Social media has the power to influence potential customers at different stages in the journey of becoming a customer. Customer’s journey is the process involving a brand building a relationship with potential customers from the start until the stage of a purchase and beyond as well.
Each stage of a customer journey is different and brands have to customize their social media marketing efforts to match the requirement.
At the start, customers need awareness about the brand and its offering. At a later stage they have started to narrow down their choice and now need more of a influencer to convince their choice. A social proof might help further to move towards a purchase. And towards the end of their journey, they expect ongoing support and channels to share their experience.
Social media plays a crucial role in each stage to offer the customers their desired outcome.
Here’s how to use social media at each stage of the customer journey.
STAGE 1: Building Awareness
The first stage of a customer journey is the awareness building stage. Here your audience might not even know that you exist. Hence this stage is very important to start building awareness about your brand.
Social media is a blessing to businesses irrespective whether it’s big or small, new startups or established brands. In today’s competitive world, social media marketing has become an indispensable medium to create brand awareness and attract more customers.
When you want to launch a new product or market your existing products/services, it becomes essential to create awareness for your potential customers by engaging with them on social media.
Creating awareness starts by being more visible and available on social media. The higher your online visibility, greater are the chances for your audience to look out for your products and services.
In simple terms, online visibility refers to the easiness with which consumers can find your company and its products in online locations.
An effective online visibility campaign enhances brand awareness. This awareness will happen when the customer comes in look out for you, rather than you looking out for customers. So ensure that your profile is easily visible to the potential customers. Amazon is a great example on online visibility. It has attracted insane amount of customers due to its online visibility.
STAGE 2: Exert Influence
Once your audience knows about your product or service, you have successfully built awareness around your brand. Immediately you should next use influence from peers, industry leaders, celebrities and influencers to drive these potential customers towards a purchase.
A huge 92% of online audience trust content written by other users above all other forms of marketing.
Hence brands should use social media and user-generated content to exert influence over potential buyers.
In this stage marketers should use influencers. Influencer marketing can work wonders for your brand. Many marketers are replacing celebrities with YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat influencers. These online stars are providing unfiltered feedback on products, and consumers love it.
But finding influencers can be a task by itself. There are quite a few impressive tools that will help you in researching influencers in your niche.
STAGE 3: Drive Purchases
This is the third and the most important stage of a customer journey. When your customers have already travelled through the awareness stage and also have had influence from influencers on social media, but still they are hanging there close to a purchase, then social media can give that much needed nudge to push them to hit the ‘buy’ button.
Social media can help to win over the hanging audience by offering them attractive discounts, offers, gifts, prizes and free subscriptions. Social proof can be used as an effective tool to further push them towards a purchase decision. Social proof refers to a tendency to imitate behaviour of people around us or people who have influence over us. It can turn out to be a powerful influence, more so if it comes from people who we know.
Social media has resulted in evolution of social proof as a greater force for buying decisions. Marketers are making social space more transparent by sharing reviews, comments, likes, tweets and pins of their happy customers to generate brand trust and drive huge sales.
Social marketers looking to sell their products should have a solid social proof in form of case studies, images, video, pod cast interviews and influencers as part of their selling strategy.
STAGE 4: Build Loyalty
Most of the brands stop at stage 3 soon after a purchase is made. But there is a stage 4 in the customer journey that revolves around building a strong and a long-term relationship with the customer. Focus on making the customer experience management a priority. Make sure that they remain engaged with your brand for a long time even after a purchase.
Customers are likely to share their experience on social media. Respond to their comments with a like, comment, tweet and retweet. This helps in nurturing the loyalty.
Encourage your customers to share their experience on social media by offering loyalty programs. They should be offered an incentive for sharing a post on social media. Such posts from customers who have actually used your products will usher new users into the brand awareness stage.
Loyal customers are profitable customers.
It is cheaper for brands to market to existing customers than to new customers. Unfortunately only about 27% of initial sales go on to become repeat customers.
Hence the stage 4 of a customer journey should not be ignored by companies and they need to invest in building loyalty among their customers.
A customer goes though many stages starting from brand awareness to finally purchasing the product. Social Media is helping the marketers at each stage to identify the exact moments that can be captured and converted into a purchase decision for customers.
Most customer journey goes through 4 stages. It starts from awareness, influence, then leads to a purchase and finally to building loyalty.