The Awareness Stage – Touchpoints In Your Client’s Decision Journey

Previously, we discussed the mapping of the consumer decision-making journey and suggested digital channels effective in communicating with a prospective buyer. The initial stage is the awareness stage. That is the stage that a consumer first becomes aware that they have a need or a problem to solve. They have already been exposed to messaging from friends, family, traditional, and digital media. They also have or may not have experienced the purchasing process to solve that need in the past. All these elements come into play when a consumer moves from the passive stage to the active stage in solving their needs.

In a McKinsey white paper on the consumer decision journey they state, “Faced with a plethora of choices and communications, consumers tend to fall back on the limited set of brands that have made it through the wilderness of messages. Brand awareness matters: brands in the initial-consideration set can be up to three times more likely to be purchased eventually than brands that aren’t in it.”

McKinsey consumer decision journey diagram

If this is true, then it is well worthwhile for local businesses to make a significant effort to create brand awareness with their target consumers before they have the need. However, it goes without saying that local small businesses do not have unlimited resources to create awareness when target consumers are not in the market. 

Fortunately, digital marketing allows a small business to slice a very specific audience in their geographical area for a very small investment through behavioral targeting. Behavioral targeting is a strategy that allows an advertiser to deliver a message to a prospect who is highly likely to have an interest in their service or product based on that consumer’s online activities. Different online platforms offer different types of behavioral targeting depending on their technology. However, they all offer the ability to deliver a message that is more likely to create awareness because of the relevance of the message to the consumer.

For example, a contractor that specializes in custom kitchen, family room and bathroom cabinets in Pasadena, California can deliver three distinct and effective messages to homeowners in Pasadena based on keywords that they have used in past searches, remodeling articles and images that they have viewed on apps and websites that they have visited. They do not pay for delivery to an audience that has demonstrated no interest in cabinet and remodeling related topics. They also do not pay for any delivery outside their relevant geographical area.

While different behavioral targeting terminology and applications change depending on the marketing platform provider, these are popular types of behavioral targeting:

Site retargeting – they visited your website, and you dispatch a follow up message to offer them more information and generate awareness.

Search retargeting – the prospect searches topics related to your product or service, and you dispatch a message creating awareness that you can provide a solution when they are ready.

Keyword contextual targeting – the prospect is reading articles about topics related to your products and your message is delivered “contextually” adjacent to the article that they are reading.

Category contextual targeting – the prospect is browsing articles in your general category such as remodeling, and your message is delivered adjacent to the category content browsed.

Geo fencing – Your prospect attends a home improvement show at the convention center and returns home in Pasadena. Your prospect is delivered a message about your custom cabinet services.

Addressable Delivery or Mail List Targeting – Your prospect is on your mailing list already. A digital message can be delivered to their smart phone, their home computer, and their smart TV through something called cross device matching. This is an excellent way to remind clients that have bought from you in the past that you are ready and able to serve their needs again.

All the above methods can deliver content in the form of sponsored articles, animated display ads or video on all digital devices. Therefore, using two or three of these tactics can help any small business build awareness with their target prospect while in the passive stage without a big budget commitment. That will set the advertiser up to be three times more likely to get the sale when the client is ready to buy.