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Written by Ellie Keft

February 20, 2021

Although Facebook’s news ban currently only applies to publishers of news media, this massive-dick-swinging-flex has shown us that big tech can and will do whatever they flippin’ want on their platform. Here I’ll explain why mapping out your customer journey will help you understand that, while most of us do rely on social media as one of our primary acquisition streams, there are other things we can focus on. By diversifying the ways in which customers find us, as well as focusing on the many other phases of the customer journey, we can see that there’s plenty of other work we can do to nurture the people who’ve already found us.

How about that Facebook dummy spit hey? The level of power they have, to be able to ban all Australian news media overnight, is mind-blowing.

And honestly, I don’t like to think too deeply about the repercussions of this authoritarian act on our democracy, our fight against misinformation and conspiracy theories, and our general ability to have robust public discourse between normal, otherwise geographically separated, people.

Or I guess, Facebook’s gross incompetence in accurately defining and identifying what ‘news’ actually is, leading to shutdowns of important pillars of safety and wellbeing in our society, like emergency services and community organisations like 1800RESPECT.

Or that this heavy-handed, yet mismanaged approach could indeed allow misinformation and hate speech to prosper, unchallenged, in the void created by banning content by credible media sites staffed with qualified journalists.

Buuuuut this is all NOT what I came here to write about, and it has very little to do with your marketing 😂 😂 😂

Well, little in the sense that you and I aren’t going to solve the world’s issues with our marketing! But also big because well, as I mentioned, the faith we put in Facebook (and Instagram, which is owned by the same company) is out of control.

We trust that we will always have a fresh stream of new leads coming in through these platforms. And we trust that we’ll always have the power to communicate with our people the way that feels right to us.

But this just isn’t realistic, as shown by Facebook’s recent news blackout.

And so instead of wedging our head in the sand and coming out when it’s all over, I thought I’d explain what Aussie small business owners can be doing that both prepares us for future Facebook dummy spits, AND refocuses how we do marketing.

From a set of siloed tactics, to an integrated, well-oiled content marketing machine, where you can simultaneously attract the people that are perfectly aligned with your brand, and serve the people who are already part of your ecosystem, your customers.

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What’s the ACCC, Facebook, Google Conundrum All About?

So just to get you up to speed, on February 18th 2021, in response to the News Media Bargaining Code, Facebook restricted media publishers in Australia from sharing and viewing news content—a full ‘news media blackout.’ They kept it airy fairy and lacking transparency, in true Facebook fashion, and so the definition of ‘media publishers’ and ‘news’ was verrrry loose.

Developed by the ACCC, the code would see big tech like Facebook and Google compensate Australian news publishers for the content that is shared on their platforms. But with the bill currently sitting in parliament, big tech and big media companies moved quickly to the busy work of negotiating payments and terms, with Google agreeing to millions of dollars in payments. 

These agreements have been heavily criticised due to the expected knock-on effects—big media getting bigger. There was already a beastly (and growing) monopoly in the sector, and these negotiations simply bolster these companies.

And when the subject matter of many of these companies is so heavily skewed toward right-wing political agendas, it’s worrying. As Jim Morrison said, “Whoever controls the media, controls the mind”, and it’s true.

With COVID-19 misinformation running rife and far-right politics and extremism growing rapidly, smaller, independent voices are so essential to provide educated, factual resources. A media monopoly is a scary thing.

But what does all this mean for your marketing, you ask.

What Does Facebook’s News Ban Mean for Aussie Small Businesses Like You, and Your Marketing Strategy?

While I don’t really use Facebook and actually kind of hate it, this ban was a stark reminder of the absurd amount of power they hold, and also what they’re willing to do to make a point.

And that while you think you ‘own’ your social media audience, you don’t… they do!

Think about this for a moment, if they’d done the same thing with Instagram, and not just for news media companies but for your industry, how would you be feeling right now? How would you find customers? How would you communicate with your existing ones?

Bit scary, right?!

So what I do with my clients is called ‘content marketing.’

The premise behind content marketing is that, by using a robust and tailored strategy, you can build systems that integrate your channels and platforms rather than having them all work in their own little silo.

Rather than relying on one platform for all stages of the consumer journey, or spending a disproportionate time at one end of the journey, or one end of the sales funnel, the idea is to have a diversified and well-balanced system.

Later on I’ll chat about how you can map your customer journey, so that you can begin to track and monitor it, identifying weak spots in your systems so that you can focus more on those, essentially ‘plugging up’ your leaky sieve!

But first, I wanted to touch on an important concept when we’re talking about the journey of your customer, and that is ‘Customer Lifetime Value’ or CLV.

What’s Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)?

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is the amount of money a customer is expected to spend with you throughout their entire lifetime. It’s an important metric because it helps you to understand how much you’re willing to spend to ‘acquire’ them, and how important they are to ‘retain’.

What I’ve just described are the concepts of ‘acquisition’ and ‘retention’. In the customer journey, acquisition sits right at the beginning, and retention sits a few steps down.

Now most people are heavily focused on acquisition; where will I find new customers, how will I reach new audiences, where will all these new people come from?!

And while this is important, as soon as customers enter a business’ ecosystem, they immediately ignore them, which results in high churn rates (low retention rates).

Now, the reason this matters is this: successfully selling to an existing customer is at least 55% more probable than selling to an existing one (Econsultancy). Whhaaaattt?!

So by not focusing on retention, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.

Now, retention isn’t just how you communicate to your customers, it’s also how you serve them: How was the purchasing experience? How was the refunds and returns experience? Did you go above and beyond to resolve complaints? Those kinds of things.

But an understanding of the journey your customers are on, combined with great communication, will help a lot.

On that note, let’s look at ‘Customer Journeys’—what are they, and how can you use them to nurture your existing customers.

What’s a Customer Journey (also Known as a User Journey or a Buyer Journey)?

A customer journey is just a map of the touchpoints your customer goes through from when they first interact with your brand, to when they exit.

I actually prefer the term ‘user journey’, because it more accurately describes the fact that for a person to embark on a journey with you, they don’t need to have bought anything from you. In fact, they might never buy from you and they will still be on a journey with you—it’s not ideal, you do really want people to convert as that’s what keeps your business operating, but it does happen a lot!

Some business models—particularly media publishers—actually don’t have monetary conversions as a goal for the average user at all. The valuable commodity for them is their readership, which can then be used as a bargaining chip to create paid collaborations with other businesses. Publishers can also generate an income without converting the user, through advertising, depending on how it’s configured.

So my point is, a customer journey is unique to your business, and is really just about understanding how people are finding you, interacting with you, making purchasing decisions with you and disengaging with you.

There are many different models to explain customer journeys—some super simple but lacking in utility, and some waaaaaay too complicated.

I’ve combined a few below, attempting to find a middle ground.

What Are the Customer Lifecycle Stages?

The term ‘customer lifecycle stages’ are simply the steps a customer moves through on the customer journey. The way we initially model a customer journey presents the lifecycle stages as linear and logical, but as we know, humans are anything but linear and logical! So it’s important to remember a couple of things:

Firstly, people may move forward, then back, then skip a step. And secondly, there’s no set duration for how long each stage will or should take. Someone might find out about you and buy your product 2 minutes later. Or, they could follow you for years, researching your product and engaging with your content, before making a purchase.

AWARENESS + ENGAGEMENT

The user: They become aware of and start engaging with your brand.

You: You’re building brand awareness and encouraging micro-engagements.

Which channels, platforms and media: Posts, stories and Lives on social media, blogs and other generalised content on your website (reached via both organic and paid search), email welcome sequences introducing your brand, podcasts, videos, etc.

CONSIDERATION + EDUCATION

The user: They’re considering whether to continue engaging with you and/or whether they might buy from you. 

You: You’re providing them with information that addresses both any objections they might have to buying from you, as well as any knowledge gaps they might have, both through active engagement (email), as well as retargeting (ads).

Which channels, platforms and media: Chunkier pieces of content delivered via social media and email; downloadable PDFs, detailed blog posts, reports, guides, case studies, templates and toolkits, but also webinars, Facebook and Instagram Lives.

EVALUATION + DECISION

The user: They’re weighing up their options, and they finally make a decision about whether or not to buy from you.

You: You’re giving them meatier, more detailed information that they need to know to make their purchase.

Which channels, platforms and media: External competitive comparisons, reviews, testimonials and past customer case studies, technical specifications and detailed breakdowns of value.

PURCHASE + CX

The user: They make the purchase, and now they’re part of your active customers.

You: You’re giving them the special attention they require for onboarding, any concerns or questions they have, encouragement to use the product better, and so on.

Which channels, platforms and media: Email sequences boosting customer satisfaction, retargeting ads to remind them to use/engage and to offer help; a quick text checking they’re ‘getting along fine’ with your product; Facebook/Instagram Live Q&As or Zoom Q&A’s; complimentary consultations; user guides that explain in detail how to use the product, or the versatility in the product. If they’ve booked in for accommodation, a guide to the area so that they can plan their trip.

RETENTION + UPGRADE

The user: They’ve completed their purchasing experience with you and will either continue engaging or will disengage.

You: You’re continuing to communicate with them while they’re still engaged, creating conversations through surveys, potentially up-selling or cross-selling if appropriate.

Which channels, platforms and media: Regular email communication with periodic perks like sales and exclusive offers, engaging social media content, useful written content tailored to their pain points, engaging and inspiring video content or podcast content, surveys, private consultations, etc.

ADVOCACY + INITIATION

The user: They’ve made it all the way to your ‘community’. They’re not just buying a product and skedaddling; they’ve bought multiple products, they engage in your content and they probably want more… 

You: You’re presenting them with opportunities that make them feel special and a valued member of the community, and will potentially allow them to benefit from their commitment and loyalty.

Which channels, platforms and media: Community groups like a Facebook group or something similar, virtual and in-person events, exclusive discounts, merch, co-designed offerings (where they can participate in the design), affiliate programs (where they can earn commission through referrals to your product).

Customer Journey Example — With Three Popular Acquisition Streams; Organic Social Media, SEO & Paid Social Media

So as you can see, there’s A LOT to get done that will ensure we’re fully prepared should Facebook and Instagram stop serving our needs in the future.

Now before you say: ‘Ellie, I am ONLY ONE PERSON! I can’t possibly do all of this.’

Oh gosh no, I’m not saying you have to do all of this!

We’re talking about identifying the channels, platforms and media that work best for your brand and synthesising them into a smooth, lead nurturing and customer retention machine.

In the case of getting leads from Facebook and Instagram, we can look at where people are starting their journey with you, and decide whether this acquisition stream is robust, sufficient and has longevity.

For example, one acquisition stream might be Google Ads. Now if you know that there won’t always be budget for this, then this stream doesn’t have longevity and shouldn’t be relied upon as the sole way for people to find you. Rather, combining it with other streams is vital. 

So let’s look at a quick example of a customer journey in practice.

It all starts with potential customers coming across your brand, in one of many ways. Here are three possible ways:

1 — AWARENESS + ENGAGEMENT

OPTION A: People find you through an Instagram post one of their friends shared in their stories, which directs them to head to your website to read more.

OPTION B: People find you through organic search, when they visit a search engine and your link shows up, and they click it.

OPTION C: People find you after being targeted with an ad on Instagram; they click on the link and it brings them to your website.

They engage with that piece of content on your website, they love it and you’re able to pick them up in your retargeting systems.

ASK YOURSELF: How are people finding you? What stream isn’t being utilised? How can you get your brand out there? Are people clicking through to your website when directed to do so?

2 — CONSIDERATION + EDUCATION

They’re curious and want to know more, as they think they might like to buy from you but want to do their research.

You run basic retargeting ads to them on social media and associated ad networks, both to keep your brand front of mind, and to deliver educational content to address their objections.

They continue to engage with your content and research your offering, returning to your website a few times, whilst also researching your competitors and comparing you against them.

While they’re on your website, they sign up for your email list—they like your content and they’re confident by now that you won’t be spamming them.

You put them on an email welcome journey that connects them with the ethos of your brand, and familiarises them with your offering; what it is, what problem it’ll solve for them, and why you’re the best brand to get it from.

ASK YOURSELF: What do potential customers need to know, feel and believe to purchase from you in the future? What knowledge gaps do they have related to the benefit your offering will give them? What objections do they have about buying from you?

3 — EVALUATION + DECISION

At the end of their email welcome journey, where they learnt all about your product from your point of view, they decide to hit Google and check that you’re legit. They browse great reviews, and notice a blog post written by an external party where your product is recommended.

They return to your website to check out the details of your product and the company once more, where they watch a few videos with past customers speaking about their experience. 

They’ve been engaging with your content for a while now, they love what you’re about and they’re confident that others think you’re great too.

They remember the discount code you provided in the welcome journey, so they go and retrieve that.

They’re excited about the discount so they make their final calculations and they buy.

ASK YOURSELF: What do they need to encourage them to purchase? What’s holding them back? What’s your external profile, your digital footprint, like? What external sources can potential customers go to to verify your awesomeness.

4 — PURCHASE + CX

A couple of days after the purchase, you send them an email just ‘checking in’, offering ways to engage with the product better, and offering help if they need it. People will have a better experience if they have fully engaged with your product or service, otherwise they may feel guilty for having spent the money, and might not get all the possible value from it.

ASK YOURSELF: How can you show your customer that you care about them, even though their money is already in your bank? How can you help them to engage with your product or service? How can you inspire them with recipes, workout guides or local tourism guides?

5 — RETENTION + UPGRADE

They get an email from you several weeks later which includes an interesting blog article and mentions another product that you offer—it could be a new one, a similar one to their purchase, or it could be the logical next step from what they purchased from you.

They’re interested, they click on the link to the blog, and while there they notice another link to that new product. They click on it and browse the product.

ASK YOURSELF: How can you keep customers engaged? What types of content do they want to consume from you? What types of products might they want/need in relation to what they’ve already bought?

6 — CONSIDERATION + EDUCATION, EVALUATION + DECISION

They then enter a micro-journey similar to what they went on with their first purchase.

They’re browsing Instagram the next day, and they see that their favourite influencer is raving about this product. Their interest is piqued.

They start to receive non-spammy, tasteful retargeting ads on Instagram about this product (like abandoned cart or abandoned view emails), they go through a period of research and consideration, and then they eventually decide to buy.

ASK YOURSELF: How can you keep this person engaged without overdoing it on one particular platform? How can you mix your own content with Influencer content to ensure there is external validation of your brand, and social proof?

7 — ADVOCACY + INITIATION

Later on down the track, they’re hyper-engaged with your brand; they fill the surveys you ask them to, they open your emails, they share your content, they continue to buy your products.

You send them an email with an invitation to join your exclusive virtual community, where they can co-design your next product, attend special events, and they’ll get an affiliate link for if they’d like to make commission on referrals.

ASK YOURSELF: What would make you feel special, if your favourite brand reached out wanting to include you in the inner fold of their brand? What is a feasible perk that you can offer to your best customers? What will come off as pure generosity, rather than generosity hidden behind a sales pitch?

So, there we have it!

Just a couple of things to note before I wrap up:

Firstly, this user journey is like, THE DREAM. Don’t expect that a customer will move from phase to phase in this way, this is simply a prototype, an ideal example.

Secondly, executing something like this in its entirety is no joke and most people get help setting things like this up. Not only is there A LOT of content to create, there’s also a lot of automated systems that need to be put into place.

And lastly, there are varying levels of complexity with something like this. Segmented and personalised communication streams to every type of customer is SUPER advanced. So, people most likely won’t receive the perfect piece of content for the phase of the journey they’re in. That’s ok!

To get started though, there are a few things you need to get in place.

Foundations for Setting up a Robust and Strategic Customer Journey

If you can start by getting these five things set up and working, then you’re well on your way to serving your customers at every stage of their journey.

  1. The acquisition stream – so either a social media following, a well-ranked blog and website, or a paid ad campaign.
  2. A content production system – a set of processes that allow you to regularly produce content.
  3. An email marketing system – a provider and the processes needed to deliver regular email comms.
  4. An email sequencing setup – automated emails for the nurture sequence.
  5. A paid retargeting campaign – Facebook/Instagram ads is (at the moment), the best option here.

Ok, so I appreciate that might look like quite a lot… but nothing good comes easily, ain’t that right?! 😂😂😂

If you want to learn about the main ingredients in a great content marketing, head over to this quick explainer on the blog: The Three S’s of Great Content Marketing. 

Next Steps for Marketing Your Aussie Small Business in a Post-Facebook-Dick-Swinging World

My advice? Just follow these three steps if you’re just getting started.

  1. Start creating content that brings people to your website—Blogs, a podcast with on-site show notes, a video series… there are endless options here.
  2. Get your on-site tracking sorted—Make sure you have your Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics tag installed.
  3. Start collecting email addresses—embed it into your buyer journey, get the quick wins where you can. And once you’ve got the low-hanging fruit, start thinking about content you could create that your audience would exchange their email addresses for.

Once you’ve done the above, it’s time to implement regular email comms, a paid retargeting campaign and email sequences.

I know it sounds like a lot—try your best not to overanalyse, OR be too hard on yourself. Just do what you can with what you have. If you can afford to get help in the form of a VA, do that.

If you did want to chat through anything, feel free to reach out on Instagram, send me an email or book in for a free 30 minute consultation with me.

If you have any comments on anything you’ve read here, leave a comment below!

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