footsteps in a forest

The 4 Stages of a Social Media Customer Journey

By: Franklin Goldberg, Founder, Amplify Marketing Services

December 11, 2019

Many of the world’s most successful companies share a common focus that drives everything they do—they obsess over customers. Apple, Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft—they’re all devoted to being customer-centric.

Some soundbites, for context:

Franklin Goldberg, Founder, Amplify Marketing Services

Businesses that optimize the customer experience are seeing radical growth. That begs the question, if the secret to success is no secret at all, why isn’t everyone obsessing over customers?

Many say they are customer-centric but clearly aren’t. Some put a lot of effort into forcing customer experience management (CXM) into the mix of other priorities vying for their attention. But few companies succeed in creating a culture driven by authentic obsession over customers.

It sounds simple, but it’s actually very complex. To be customer-centric, marketers need to be acquainted with customers’ entire experience. We can’t optimize what we aren’t intimately familiar with.

Marketers need to know every touch-point and pain-point. We need to walk in our customers’ shoes, closely analyzing each step of their journey to reveal the areas with the greatest potential to bring immediate, radical growth. Then, we start over and do it again, day after day.

Obsessing over customers is more than just a mantra—it’s a way of doing business. Customer journey mapping (CJM) is how marketers get it done, on social media and beyond.

Customer Journey Stages

Most customer journey maps factor in between four and seven stages. When I was at HarperCollins Christian Publishing (HCCP), my marketing team used a four-stage map starting with awareness, then consideration, conversion and ultimately, advocacy. But any multi-stage CJM framework can be effective if it addresses every customer touch-point.

There are many types of touch-points and they differ from one industry to another. Some are digital and some are physical—but social media is one of the most powerful and effective digital examples that impacts each of the four CJM stages, below:

  1. Awareness: There are few channels as effective as social media for creating awareness. With the ability to segment and target the billions of customers engaging on social media, it has to be part of the awareness stage.
  2. Consideration: Social media is also instrumental in the consideration phase of a CJM campaign. At HCCP, this is where we focused most of our attention. We created an average of 10 touch-points, each one progressively building upon the last. The impulse buy is dying; “surgical” shoppers are on the rise. So, this second stage is necessary to help customers investigate whether a product will solve their problem and meet their need. The type of touch-points created for the consideration stage include interactive media, infographics, social quizzes, videos, digital samplers and more. The key is to have each step go into a little more depth until we’re ready to call for a sale.
  3. Conversion: To use Gary Vaynerchuk’s vernacular, the consideration stage is where we jab, jab, jab. The conversion stage is where we land that right hook. Social media plays an important role at this point as well. Through Facebook, we retargeted qualified leads with ads that offer incentives to buy.
  4. Advocacy: We need to constantly remind ourselves that the customer journey doesn’t end with a purchase. We want to produce loyal customers who love our products, use them often, return for more and tell others about them.

The Importance of Agility

One of the most powerful benefits of integrating social media into CJM is that strategies can be split-tested and monitored in real time for maximum agility. In the first few weeks of a campaign, it’s crucial to track data on a daily and even hourly basis.

Marketers can’t afford to wait for a postmortem meeting to learn what didn’t work and why. They must adapt on the fly so as to later prove how they hit their goals instead of explaining why they missed the mark.

A final customer journey map always looks different than the original one and that’s OK—because as digital denizens, marketers are constantly learning.

It’s difficult to imagine running a CJM campaign without social media. Other channels play important roles but social media is instrumental in product marketing, customer lifecycle management and brand management campaigns.

Franklin Goldberg is the founder of Amplify Marketing Services and the former senior director of marketing at HarperCollins. An earlier version of this article was published in What’s Shakin’ in November 2019.

Follow Franklin: @JMappingWorks 

At The Social Shake-Up