The customer journey is a buzzword on everyone's marketing lips. In addition to great fears about how to track users' activities, one myth in particular persists in many people's minds. Social media is a pure awareness channel.
But as each network matures, there are so many more opportunities - you just have to be aware of them. Social media influences all stages of the customer journey, from awareness to purchase. The platforms provide venues for creative content, visuals, and interactions that deepen engagement. We take this as an opportunity to dispel this myth and take you on a deep dive into the possibilities of the full social media marketing funnel.
What is a customer journey?
The customer journey describes the path from first contact to purchase and beyond. It provides valuable insights into customer behavior, needs, and decision-making processes that support effective marketing and sales strategies. The idea and origins of the customer journey go back to the classic AIDA model. This admittedly very old model still has a strong influence on modern marketing. AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.
The customer journey here is a very linear process - also called the marketing funnel (fair enough, because it's a model). While the basic idea of the AIDA Customer Journey has been retained, the approach to customer interaction has evolved significantly to reflect modern and now networked market realities. It is important to understand that the complexity of customer decisions can rarely be mapped to a single touchpoint per stage. Rather, the customer journey is evolving into an increasingly complex interplay of formats, channels, and experiences, requiring a holistic view.
Stages of the customer journey, also known as the social media funnel
Here are the five stages, along with challenges and best practices.
Stage 1: Awareness
The first stage of the customer journey, awareness, marks the pivotal moment when a potential customer first becomes aware of a brand or product. As mentioned in the introduction, this is a home game for social media, and the importance of social media in the awareness phase is already well known.
The challenge for companies in this phase is to capture the attention of their target audience and, at the same time, generate interest for further interaction.
Customers want to discover and become aware of products, and they need materials that allow them to do so.
So: strong visuals and videos.
These content formats allow companies to combine maximum attention with emotional resonance. The awareness phase is a unique opportunity to lay the foundation for a deeper relationship between brand and customer. By creating targeted content and skillfully using visual media, companies can capture attention and lay the groundwork for ongoing interactions that drive the customer journey forward.
So, get away from the mindset that something is just "top of the funnel". Figuratively speaking, the top of the funnel is important, because if you pour everything else in, nothing will come out the bottom.
Now, this sounds like a lot of help - but don't forget: Keep your communications targeted. By tailoring your messages and visuals to the demographic, psychographic and behavioral characteristics of your target audience, you increase the likelihood that your messages will stand out from the crowd.
Different social media platforms offer you different ways to do this. On most networks, you can use interest targeting to determine who might be interested in your product. So if you're selling soccer shoes, you can target ads to people who list soccer as a hobby. In addition, Custom audiences or lookalikes are a way to create statistical twins of your existing customers and target them.
Want to measure awareness? This is also important! Review and focus on analyzing reach, impressions and engagement rates. This will give you insight into how to tweak your formats to get even more attention from your target audience.
Phase 2: Interest
After potential customers have heard about your brand or product for the first time in the awareness phase, it's time to pique their interest and satisfy their curiosity.
At this stage, customers are motivated to learn more. They want to know more about your product and how it can meet their needs. This is your chance to turn their attention into real interest.
Video also plays an important role in creating an emotional connection. Images and videos have the power to tell stories, and that's what matters. In addition, you want the person to interact with you first, not just consume content. Therefore, use interactive formats such as surveys or contests.
Many users want to know a lot about the products at this stage, so explainer videos, tutorials, webinars, and infographics are great. Measuring interest in your content goes beyond reach. Pay special attention to click-through rate (CTR), follower growth, and number of downloads/webinar attendees.
Phase 3: Consideration
The consideration phase is a crucial stage in the customer journey, known as the "middle of the funnel," where prospects are actively considering whether a product or service meets their needs and requirements. At this stage, they've already shown interest in your brand and what you offer, so it's time to persuade them further and provide them with the information they need to decide.
How do you do this on social? Post comparison posts that compare your product or service to others in the market. This will help users in their decision-making process. Post positive reviews and testimonials from satisfied customers. Authentic experiences from others can build trust in your brand. Influencers and expert opinions are also secret weapons in the consideration phase. In addition, use targeted ads to engage users in this stage. You can help them make a decision with special offers or discounts.
The consideration phase is a critical time when users are actively weighing their options.By providing relevant information and encouraging social media interaction, you can help them make decisions and ultimately move them to the conversion stage.
Phase 4: Purchase
The purchase stage, also known as the buying phase, is the critical moment in the customer journey when prospects are ready to make a purchase. At this stage, they have already developed a strong interest in your product or service and are on their way to conversion. Customers in this stage are looking for easy and convenient ways to purchase the product or service.
They expect clear information about pricing, availability, payment options, and delivery terms. Clear CTAs, appealing product presentations and optimized conversion paths are a must. Keep in mind that you may lose some potential buyers with every click and every redirect. What sounds easy is not easy in practice and many companies fail in the last meters before the conversion. So keep your paths simple to keep the conversion rate high. The simpler and more trustworthy your buying process is, the more customers you can convince at this stage.
So how does that work in social media? If you are a retailer, you should take a look at social commerce, as almost all networks now offer direct checkout on social media or even have their own stores on the networks. Offering new customer discounts or discounts for subscribing to newsletters can positively influence your conversion rate in this phase. Many customers now explicitly search for discount codes before making a purchase, so it is advisable to display such codes directly at the checkout, so that the order process is not interrupted by the search.
Attention: We do not recommend a 10% coupon only for app users, as the download of the app (which is also a major inhibition threshold), the renewed search for the product, and the time delay usually cause the conversion rate to drop into a bottomless pit.
Phase 5: Post-purchase
Once customers purchase and receive the product or service, they enter the post-purchase phase. The post-purchase phase is crucial for building long-term customer relationships and strengthening brand image. Social media provides a great platform to stay in touch with customers, meet their needs and build strong customer loyalty. During this phase, make sure to deliver a positive and helpful brand experience.
In the after-sales phase, customers expect fast delivery and responsive support. This is another area that social media can help you address. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other channels even have chatbots that can handle many inquiries for you. Messenger services are not a one-way street, so use complaints for positive experiences as well.
Show dissatisfied customers how valuable their feedback is for the future, and feel free to use discount coupons so they can see your feedback culture in action the next time they shop. Many social media platforms offer built-in review features. Ask your customers to give you reviews, as this can positively impact your business in the future. Future customers in the awareness, interest, and consideration stages need these social signals of other customers' satisfaction.
The real trick in the post-purchase phase is to get customers to make repeat purchases. To do this, they need to be continuously provided with information (e.g. on the correct care of shoes) or offers. Loyalty programs or refer-a-friend programs are also great touchpoints for renewed exchange. This may sound like a lot of work, but with most social media management tools, it can be almost completely automated and integrated into your customer database.
Conclusion: The customer journey is more than awareness.
The customer journey in social media is a breathtaking journey through the digital cosmos, where brands and customers come together in a harmonious dance. From awareness to post-purchase, there are endless opportunities to build relationships and create memorable experiences.
With creative content, tailored interactions and ongoing support, any brand can build a lifelong relationship with its customers. The possibilities of this journey are limitless, with ever-changing trends and technologies that will revolutionize our relationship with social media and the customer journey.
If you don't share my euphoria because it sounds like a lot, a lot of work, take the next step and visit us for a free demo. See for yourself how Facelift can help you along the customer journey.