For years organizations have stressed about the best way to measure marketing effectiveness. While many marketing activities are becoming more measurable than ever before (especially online), mapping your current and potential customers along an engagement spectrum can help you understand the total value of your marketing initiatives and tease out which activities and messages are most influential.
In most cases (not generally including consumer packaged goods), customers and prospects do more than simply buy or not buy. They follow a series of steps and decisions, each of which requires its own strategy to move the potential sale forward. The more “risk” involved in the buyer getting the purchase decision right (high cost, high emotional risk), the more distinct that sequence of intermediate behaviors becomes.
For example, my wife and I recently purchased a new vehicle – something we hope will last us a long time, be safe for our son, hold lots of stuff, and still be fun to drive. The process involved a number of steps. We started by narrowing down the number of brands based on general knowledge and pre-existing preferences, then we read online reviews and asked around to see what people liked and didn’t like, next we test drove a smaller number of vehicles, and eventually settled on both a dealership (thanks in part to the free ice cream novelties they provided) and a specific vehicle before negotiating on price and additional features.
Certainly every product has its own purchase process, and it is essential to understand how YOUR customers want to buy. As a starting point for customization you can use a simple “customer engagement spectrum,” which includes six steps: 1) Awareness – the customer is ready to accept information; 2) Positive image – the customer is motivated to seek out information; 3) Purchase intent – the customer is moved to purchase; 4) Ownership – the customer makes a purchase; 5) Positive ownership – the customer is satisfied with the first purchase and makes subsequent purchases (either repurchases or cross-purchases); and 6) Advocacy – the customer recommends or advocates the product of the brand.
Once you’ve mapped out your own purchase process, you should ask yourself four questions to help improve develop a high impact strategy:
- How is my target market distributed across the engagement?
- What specific elements of value– the “value drivers” – will move my prospects and customers further through the process to initial or additional revenue-generating behaviors?
- What are the most effective communications vehicles for delivering the right value messages to move prospects and customers most effectively?
- What is the value, in current and future sales, of moving groups of prospects and customers through the various stages?
Armed with that information you can add in the costs of any marketing campaign to begin calculating the return on that marketing investment resulting in more confident projections and a better understanding of the value of customers at each stage of the spectrum.
Posted by Josh Mendelsohn. Josh is our VP of Marketing and loves live music, tv, great food, market research, New Orleans, marketing, his family, Boston and sports. You can follow him on Twitter @mendelj2.