An important part of a social media marketer's job is to come up with powerful messages that can help make people buy a product or service, and put that message in front of the target customer at the right time. How do you do that? It helps to understand the journey your customer goes through before deciding to buy your product. In this video, I'll explain what a typical buyer or a customer journey looks like, and how you can benefit from understanding it. Let me tell you a story. I like to ride my bike. I grew up biking back and forth to school, and ever since, I've loved using my bike to quickly get to our local bakery, ride to the office when I can, and just go for a ride for fun. I have a trusted bike that has been serving me well for the last 10 years. One day, I walked into the local bike shop for repair and this PUBLIC bike caught my eye. I loved it. Just looked very cool. Pretty colors, and nice leather touches. It was the first time I learned about PUBLIC, the bikes brand. But I didn't need a bike, so I left and forgot about it. Then, I happened to come across an article in the local magazine about PUBLIC bikes and the founder's design vision. It reminded me of the bike I saw in the store, so I decided to look them up. I checked out the website and read a bit more information about some of the functionality of the bike. I liked how they were modeled after Dutch bikes, and how they're ideal for errands and commuting. It actually peaked my interest, but I had a bike. A few weeks later, as I was browsing Facebook, I saw a post from my friend with a picture of the PUBLIC bike she got. I went back to the website and checked out the bikes again. I even picked out a favorite model. Yeah, I really wanted one. I started following PUBLIC bikes on Facebook and Instagram. Beautiful pictures kept popping up in my feed of people like me using their bike to shop or commute. Then, around the holidays, our local bike store had a promotion and it just felt like the time was right to say goodbye to my old bike and hello to my very own PUBLIC bike. I love the bike, and I've been telling my friends about it. In fact, one of them is a colleague here at Aptly, and who now also has a PUBLIC bike. Now, I'm not telling you the story because I want to advertise PUBLIC bikes, but I think the story illustrates my customer journey that led to my buying of the bike. A customer, or a buyer journey refers to the process a user goes through when purchasing a product. The customer journey is split in five stages. First, there's the awareness stage, or the point where the customer first hears about or becomes aware of the product or service. Then, there's the interest stage, which is where the customer becomes interested in what you have to offer. A third stage in the customer journey is the desire stage, or the point at which the customer would really like to have your product or service. Then, comes the conversion stage, which is where the customer takes action and buys your product or service. We refer to that in marketing as a conversion. In other words, it's the stage where a person converts to becoming a buyer. Finally, there's the advocacy stage, which is the stage where people become advocates of the products or service they bought. Let's look back at my bike purchase. I first became aware of the PUBLIC bikes when I visited our local bike store. Then, after I saw the article about PUBLIC bikes, and went to do a little bit more research, I became interested. As I saw the posts from my friends and the cool pictures on Instagram and Facebook, I actually wanted the bike. I was in the desire stage. When I then saw the promotion my local bike store had over the holidays, I finally took action and converted. After riding my bike for a little bit, I loved the experience and I became an advocate. So I went from being content with my old bike to an advocate for my PUBLIC bike. That was my customer or buyer's journey. I went through all five stages and was, of course, suddenly pushed by marketing to advance through my journey. The customer journey is not always equally explicit or linear. In some cases, people may jump a stage, or they may go back and forth a bit through the different stages. For instance, some people may desire a product at some stage and then lose interest after a little bit, but with the right marketing messages, they may become interested again and desire the product and even buy it. Even with that in mind, it's a good idea for a marketer to map their customer journey as they plan out their marketing. Marketing is all about moving people through the customer journey. At every stage of the journey, you want to get a message in front of the people in that stage to persuade them to move on to the next stage. Depending on the stage a person is in, different types of messages will work better than others. First, you have to generate awareness for your product and get people interested. Ads that show your product and brand and the associated benefits are typical for that stage. In my bike example, this could simply be an ad or an image of the bike showing its beautiful design and some of its key features. Then, to move people from being interested to desiring a product, as that bring to life how a product may fit in a person's life, what outcomes they can expect and so on will help. In my bike example, that could be Instagram posts of people grocery shopping in the city on their bikes, for instance. They are the types of messages that help people imagine themselves with the product. Then, to move someone from the desire to the conversion stage, marketing or advertising that helps people make the jump to action helps. Promotions are typical way to do that. It could be a coupon, a sale, or maybe a gift that comes with the purchase. For my bike, it was a seasonal sale that made me decide to buy. You might think that the task of the marketer is done once people buy the product, but that's not actually true. Once someone has bought a product, it's important to turn that person into an advocate. That may guarantee more sales down the line and it could help to generate some word of mouth marketing, one of the most valuable forms of marketing, where your message gets spread by happy customers. How could you help at this stage? Great after-sale service can help. Make it easy for people to start using your product, or contact you with any questions they may have. Encouragement for people to review your product or post about a product on social media can also help. The process of moving people through the customer journey results in what marketers refer to as a marketing funnel. The funnel symbolizes the fact that not all customers at a certain stage will move on to the next stage. In fact, gradually, more and more potential customers will drop out. Not all the people that are aware of your product will also be interested, and not everyone who's interested will really desire your product. Of the people that would really like your product, not everyone ends up buying, and the people that buy don't all become advocates. Of course, marketers will try hard to minimize the drop-off at every stage, but funnels are a good representation of marketing reality. Understanding your customer's journey will help you craft your messages and reach your customers at the right time to help them move along their journey. In our next video, we'll take a closer look at how you can map your customer's journey.