The Integral Role of Advertising Throughout the Customer Journey

When you contemplate advertising, your initial association might be with its role in attracting new customers. Indeed, ads are a means to reach out to unfamiliar audiences, introduce them to your brand, and invite them to engage with your products or services.

However, in reality, advertising can be strategically employed at various stages of the customer journey. It's not solely a tool for reaching potential clients; it can also serve to retain those you've already converted over the long term.

In the past, we've discussed the marketing hourglass approach. As you adopt this comprehensive marketing strategy, you can seamlessly incorporate advertising into each of the seven key steps along the hourglass.

Advertising to the "Know and Like" Crowd

Before an individual becomes a customer, they must first encounter your brand and determine that your product or service is unique and meets their specific needs in a distinctive way.

When targeting prospects, it's essential to focus on individuals who resemble your existing customers. It's logical to assume that those with similar needs and preferences to your current clients likely share other common attributes, such as age, location, or budget.

Online advertising tools have evolved, enabling you to direct your ad spend toward those most likely to become familiar with and have a positive opinion of your brand. For instance, Facebook provides a service called "lookalike audiences," allowing you to upload your current customer contact list, and Facebook identifies people with similar attributes for you to target with your ads. Google Ads offers business owners the ability to target users based on geographical location and specific keyword searches.

The key to advertising to prospects is a deep understanding of your current clients. The more data you possess about them and their behaviors, the more likely you are to pinpoint a similar audience eager to discover your business.

Advertising to the "Trust and Try" Crowd

Once someone becomes aware of your company, they progress further along the marketing hourglass to the "trust" and "try" stages. At this point, your advertising efforts should assist users in building confidence in your brand and provide them with an opportunity to experience what you offer.

Consistency plays a key role in developing trust. The psychological "mere exposure effect" suggests that people are more likely to trust something they see repeatedly. Advertising across various channels, both online and offline, helps keep your brand prominently in the minds of prospects.

This implies that part of your advertising strategy involves maintaining a presence. If you don't see immediate results from your advertising spend, don't give up. While it's fine to adjust your approach, abandoning it entirely could cause your business to disappear from the view of potential customers who might have been interested if they had encountered your product or service a few more times.

After prospects have seen your brand consistently and developed an interest, they might wish to test your product or service before committing. Offering freebies, advanced content such as eBooks or access to webinars, or free trial options can be the final step before converting. While personalized interactions are recommended, it's also possible to include these offers in more general advertising. Just ensure that when targeting specific individuals with personalized messages, you offer something distinct from what's available to the general audience.

Advertising to the "Buy, Repeat, and Refer" Crowd

Congratulations! Your earlier advertising efforts have been successful, and you've acquired a new customer. However, your work is far from over—now your focus shifts to maintaining a high-quality customer experience.

Once someone has converted, your communication with them can become more tailored and personalized through other marketing channels. Still, advertising can be used to ensure current customers remain satisfied, return for more, and become advocates for your brand.

Consistency is crucial for fostering repeat business. You've worked hard to gain the trust of these customers, so you want to continue emphasizing your mission statement and maintaining consistent messaging and voice to reinforce your trustworthiness. This helps solidify your customers' understanding of your company and encourages them to return and become advocates themselves.

You can also leverage loyal customers in your advertising efforts. Including testimonials from those who are already brand-loyal in your advertising campaigns can help win over those who are still in the "trust" phase of the hourglass. Indeed, 70 percent of people say that they're influenced by other consumers' opinions shared online.

Advertising can be a potent tool to engage with both your customers and prospects. It has the ability to reach and influence people at any stage of the marketing hourglass. By identifying the right audience for your advertising efforts, crafting a consistent message that builds trust, and remaining top-of-mind with prospects and current clients, you can maximize the impact of your advertising budget.

Jeff Hecht

Jeff Hecht

Jeff is the Founder and Managing Director of the Aronson Hecht Agency. He grew up in the advertising industry at his father's' agency. He has over 40 years in sales and marketing experience. Jeff brings that experience to every client and every project we work on.