Here at 8 SIGNAL, we believe the Customer Value Journey is *kind of* a big deal.
Using this framework has the potential to take your business to the next level and turn total strangers into raving fans who want to tell everyone about your services — all by building meaningful relationships with your audience.
In this post, I’m going to walk you through how each step in the Customer Value Journey can get digital marketing solutions that take your business to the next level. I have a whole video that goes way more in depth that you can watch here.
And if you don’t know what we’re talking about when we say Customer Value Journey (or CVJ), check out this blog post!
But like we said, it’s a big deal. Here’s how you work through the process.
Working Through the CVJ
Before we start, I HIGHLY encourage you to document each step in your buyer persona’s customer value journey.
It’s important because:
- Documenting the CVJ optimizes the content so you can analyze what you’re doing.
- Documenting the steps makes sure you’re not skipping steps in the sequence — because lazy shortcuts and skipping steps often lead to shoddy work and failure. #ToughLove
- The CVJ is the bedrock of your strategy. Literally everything else we recommend for your marketing efforts and digital marketing solutions are referenced in this document.
- Documentation aligns your goals with your end results (and makes sure your internal team is on the same page!).
3 Guiding Key Principles for the CVJ
Alrighty-roo. Now that we’ve established why we’re doing this, let’s review three guiding principles in going through the Customer Value Journey:
- “Simple” wins.
- People make sales.
- Sequence matters.
“Simple” wins. “Complicated” confuses.
Key principle number one: Simple wins — because I said so. But also because complication leads to confusion, and a confused mind always says no (in both your target market AND your internal teams).
In mapping out your Customer Value Journey, go big. Or go small. But DON’T get complicated — that’s never good.
Remember: Simple wins because simple sticks. And you want digital marketing solutions that stick like gum to the bottom of your shoe.
You work with the people in a business.
In marketing, we enter into human-to-human relationships. What you sell doesn’t matter. How you sell it doesn’t matter. An LLC doesn’t decide to work with you; it’s a human working in that LLC that decides.
The order that you do things is important.
If you see a beautiful, romantic scene with a guy on one knee holding a ring and a girl in awe, we assume that they’ve been dating awhile and enjoy each other’s company. He has a *pretty good* idea that she’s going to say yes, and she’s known this was coming and has been hearing wedding bells for awhile.
We assume (and hope!) this isn’t their first date. AWKWARD!
So if we think it’s a HUGE red flag when someone proposes marriage on their first date, why do we think it’s totally normal to make a business proposal and ask for the big sale the first time our prospects learn about us?
In order to understand business relationships, we need to understand human relationships.
Stages of Intimacy
A PhD zoologist named Desmond Morris studied the different stages of intimacy in humans.
He documented twelve stages (that spanned across cultures and societies) that take a human relationship from being total strangers to candlelit dinners and Barry White music.
We’re not going into all the stages here; I’ll just point out the applications that apply to your digital marketing solutions.
Dr. Morris discovered that it didn’t matter how quickly you moved through the stages of intimacy (as seedy dating apps and websites can confirm!). What mattered was the sequence.
Dr. Morris made a bigger discovery too: that if you skip any one of the steps, especially after the “Hug Stage,” your chances of success plummet. It’s why huggers (GUILTY!) can make new friends uncomfortable the first time you meet!
Even worse, if you skipped two more steps, in many cases, it was considered assault.
Let that sink in for a minute.
How many times have we assaulted our prospects without even realizing it? We think that when it comes to our work life, some of these rules don’t apply, so we go for the jugular and come across as sleazy used-car salesmen. EWWW!
So DON’T. SKIP. STEPS!
The Stages of Intimacy in the Customer Value Journey
Dr. Morris has twelve steps.
We don’t want to get weird in the later steps… so let’s go with eight. These steps are Aware, Engage, Subscribe, Convert, Excite, Ascend, Advocate, Promote.
The Customer Value Journey outlines the stages your customers go through, from initial awareness to becoming loyal advocates. It’s the basis of the digital marketing solutions you implement. Let’s dive in.
I’m going to do exactly what I told you NOT to do — and skip some steps. The CVJ starts with “Aware,” but let’s “reverse-engineer” your value journey.
We’re going to start with the end result you want and work our way back to really hone in on the desired impact.
Now, the goal here is to map out what you are currently doing, not to start brainstorming and coming up with a million different digital marketing solutions to implement.
Okay, on to
Stage 1 Stage 6 (and then we’ll go over steps 7 and 8)!
This stage is where you want to end up: moving customers up the value ladder and coming back for more. In this stage, you’re using digital marketing solutions that encourage customers who are already BIG fans of your company to purchase higher-priced products or services.
If you’ve been in business for at least a year, this one’s easy: What’s your core, flagship offer — and how do you KEEP delivering value after the first sale?
List out all of your products or services, bundles, upgrades, upsells, etc. (list categories and product lines instead of individual items).
At this stage, your buyer persona is asking, “How many ways can you help me?” The overall goal at this stage is to increase customer value and increase purchase frequency.
In the Excite Stage, the goal is to increase retention, increase customer loyalty, and sell your core offers (using digital marketing solutions) to new customers.
Essentially, your buyer persona is saying, “Prove that you can solve my problem better than anyone else.” What are some of the “Ah-Ha Moments” that take your product from “Hmmm… maybe that would be nice…” to “Omigosh, I NEED it!”
Ah-Ha Moments are when you deliver an amazing experience to your buyer persona and help them learn something.
Think: Finding out that a Tesla car can go 0-60 in two seconds (“Ha” — knowledge), and then being thrown back in your seat when you experience it for yourself (“Ah!” — experience).
Now, in the Convert Stage, your buyer persona is asking, “Can you solve my problems or help me achieve my desired goals?” Any digital marketing solutions you use should help potential customers know that you can!
In this stage, your goal is to secure micro-commitments. These small steps pave the way for delivering the “Ah-Ha” moment that your buyer persona wants.
Micro-commitments are baby steps toward transforming a stranger into a friend or buyer. A micro-commitment isn’t a closing sale, it’s initiating a first “date” as an opportunity to unveil that exciting “Ah-Ha” moment.
Micro-commitments might be a small commitment of time, money, or both:
- A short phone call or coffee date
- Free trials
- Splinter offers (selling a part of the core product at a lower price)
- Anything that’s valuable in itself to your buyer persona
So, focus on getting that first “date” to create an unforgettable “Ah-Ha” moment.
On to the Subscribe Stage, where your buyer persona wants to know: “Can you solve my problems or help me achieve my goals?” This stage can sometimes overlap with Convert.
In this stage, you offer something of REAL VALUE to users to get them to subscribe to your email list (or other form of communication). It’s a way to build a direct relationship with them and use digital marketing solutions to deliver relevant content and offers.
Think about times you’ve (willingly) shared your contact information with a company. What valuable content are YOU offering in exchange for your buyer persona’s contact information?
Our goal is to boost subscribers, gather qualified leads, segment for relevance, and re-engage past prospects.
- Coupon codes
- Webinars (which are high-value but effort-intensive)
After becoming aware, customers engage with your brand. They explore your content, visit your website, and interact with your social media posts. Engagement (using digital marketing solutions) is all about capturing their interest with your content.
So let’s jump into the Engage Stage, where you start a conversation with your audience using content that explains that you understand their problems and goals. Buckle in, ‘cause there’s a lot to talk about!
Your goal here is to boost engagement: the user’s time on your site, social actions (likes, shares, comments), and ad clicks. Segment your audience based on their site visits for more relevant follow-ups.
In the digital world, think content marketing: how-to guides, case studies, FAQs, etc. It takes various forms: website pages, blogs, social posts, videos, print, and yes, even in-person chats.
Because content is so important, let’s take a minute to talk about the effect of content marketing and 8 SIGNAL’s approach.
Content Is King
It’s hard to overstate the importance of content marketing. After strategy, we believe content is one of the MOST important parts of marketing. It’s everywhere. It impacts every stage of the CVJ. It’s in social media blurbs, ads, website landing pages that highlight your services’ value over the competition, the “thank you” page after you sign up… and all of the other digital marketing solutions you implement. It’s EVERYWHERE!
Here are some examples of what content marketing might look like:
- We partnered with the Southwest Coalition for Life to create a video featuring one of their interns, highlighting the impact of donor support.
- We’re developing FAQs and providing valuable information for Envision Hospice to help families during the challenging process of planning loved ones’ end-of-life care.
- We created a resource library for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Steinborn & Associates to allow realtors to share valuable digital marketing solutions with potential clients — and help those potential customers choose the right realtor.
- We supported Doctor Rich in starting his women’s health-focused YouTube channel. Our efforts helped him gain enough subscribers and watch hours to monetize his channel while also sharing valuable information.
- We’re repurposing Appleton Moving’s reviews to create shareable social media graphics that provide a glimpse of the experience when you choose Appleton for your next move.
8SIGNAL’s Approach to Content
Here at 8 SIGNAL, we have a unique approach to content. We learned the “They Ask, You Answer” framework from our friends at Impact Plus. The “They Ask, You Answer” approach is OBSESSED with answering the questions that your customers are asking before they choose you… or one of your competitors!
The Big 5 Questions
Customer questions almost always fall into one of these “Big 5” questions that your content needs to answer:
1. Cost: Addressing pricing questions
2. Problems: Discussing product/service drawbacks
3. Comparisons: Comparing your offerings to alternatives
4. Reviews: Sharing what others say about your solution
5. Best in Class: Identifying the best available solution
Weirdly, many industry leaders avoid answering these questions because they’re afraid it’ll scare people off or be too complicated. But in reality, this approach leads to better-qualified leads, focused digital marketing solutions, and faster results.
The Selling 7 Videos
Another core component of the “They Ask, You Answer” framework that we LOVE are “The Selling 7 Videos.” Video is a powerful way to drive traffic, leads, and sales. A whopping 70% of buyers watch a video before making a purchase, and buyers spend 80% more time on a website with video than without.
Here are the seven types of videos that jumpstart traffic, leads, and sales growth:
1. Pre-sale meeting videos: Addressing FAQs (answering the 80% that isn’t customer-specific)
2. Employee bio videos: Building trust with potential customers
3. Product and service fit videos: Helping leads know if you will (or won’t) be a good fit
4. Landing page videos: Increasing conversion rates of qualified leads
5. Cost videos: Explaining pricing
6. Customer journey videos: Showing that your products or services actually work!
7. “Claims we make” videos: Showing how you’re different from competitors
When your company fully commits to making these seven types of videos as part of your digital marketing solution, it won’t be long until you see a boost in website traffic, conversions, and sales team efficiency.
There’s more to the framework, but hopefully this overview shows the power of this approach.
What content are you using today to start the conversation with your ideal buyers?
Okay! We’ve made our way down to where it all begins!
In the Awareness Stage, your potential customers are finding out about your brand through advertising, social media, or word-of-mouth. It’s about getting noticed in the right places. Do you know where to find your ideal buyers?
Our goal here is to boost your brand and get noticed. Social metrics (while they don’t bring in the actual $$$) are very important because it’s where you have the opportunity to be seen.
Here are some examples of activities during the Awareness Stage:
- Digital Advertising: Utilizing Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram ads for rapid visibility
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Working on ranking in Google (although it may take time)
- Social Media Posts: Sharing content to generate awareness and visibility
- Other strategies like participating in associations, networking, and cold-calling for brand awareness
We at 8 SIGNAL implemented these kinds of digital marketing solutions with Appleton Moving’s social media posts, Supplement Xpress’s ad campaigns, American Finance & Investment Co.’s successful ads in a regulated industry, and Doctor Rich’s YouTube monetization through SEO.
How do qualified prospects discover your brand? Do you know where to find your ideal buyers?
Now that we’ve worked down from stages six to one (Ascend to Aware), we’re going to move into the phase after Ascend: “Advocate.”
Here, we dive into encouraging customer advocacy to boost customer retention, loyalty, positive reviews, and referrals.
Tools that you might use in this stage include:
- Merch giveaways (pens, shirts, coffee cups, decals, etc.)
- Net promoter score surveys (ask “1-10, how likely are you to refer a friend? What could we do better next time?”)
- Digital marketing solutions (like online review campaigns)
- Case studies
- Video testimonials
Satisfied customers can become advocates for your brand. They share positive experiences with others through referrals, reviews, and social sharing.
How do you inspire happy customers to speak positively about your brand? Why should they give you referrals?
In the Promote Stage, we focus on turning satisfied customers into marketing partners. It’s nice when this happens organically, but this stage is about optimization.
You have the same goals as you did in the Advocate Stage (customer retention, building loyalty, generating positive reviews, and encouraging referrals), but you’ll use different tools:
- Referral programs
- Affiliate programs
- Internal champions
- Value-added resellers
At this stage in the CVJ, it’s not really worth going deep (you’ve already done that!). And it’s also important to note that “happy” customers don’t refer, SUCCESSFUL customers do — because the results from digital marketing solutions speak for themselves. Think about a very out-of-shape person who gets uber-fit. EVERYBODY wants to know how they did it!
Your greatest job is to focus on delivering value and changing lives through your products and services.
With the Customer Value Journey, we want to deliver value in the buyer’s journey in such a way that the value we get in return is also maximized. And that is how we create successful customers.
The goal of the Customer Value Journey is to provide value throughout the buyer’s journey and maximize the value we receive in return. This approach is integral to fostering successful customer relationships.
How do you turn your best customers into your marketing partners?
Mapping Out the Value Journey
And now (drumroll, please!) for the final stretch and one of my favorite parts of this entire process!
This is where we document the process for YOUR buyer persona and figure out the digital marketing solutions that will make the most impact. If you’d like to go through this process for your company, we can schedule a session to help you do the heavy lifting.
Up until now, the goal has been to document everything and dump your thoughts.
Why do we do this?
- To see missing steps and missing links (NOT Bigfoot, but please let us know if you see him!)
- To identify bottlenecks where people are getting stuck and you’re losing potential customers
- To optimize the steps in your CVJ and see growth faster
The last step is to take inventory of all the half-built bridges (projects you’ve started and not finished or abandoned altogether) and identify the ones that are worth completing!
Finishing the CVJ and Starting Your Journey To Marketing Success
Once you’ve done this, congratulations! Going through the Customer Value Journey is the most valuable thing you can do for your organization.
If you’ve got questions about YOUR Customer Value Journey (or want to find out more about how the CVJ can take your business to the next level), contact 8 SIGNAL today.