If Your Marketing Mix Doesn’t Match Your Customer’s Journey… You’re Gonna Have a Bad Time | 5-Minute Whiteboard

Imagine that you have perfect knowledge of how every potential customer starts their journey to learn about the kinds of solutions your business offers. And that in that hypothetical, 25% of those potential customers learn about solutions in your space by typing keywords into Google. That’s a pretty reasonable average across most industries, but… guess what? You’re putting 75, 80, even 90%+ of your marketing & advertising budget into Google search (SEO & PPC), ignoring every other channel that folks use to learn about, engage-with, and participate in your field.

That mismatch is something you need to fix if you want to grow your marketing opportunities and compete outside of the few, over-saturated channels (mostly SEO, paid search, and social advertising) that the vast majority of brands over-index on. The real kicker? 99% of companies don’t have perfect knowledge of their customers’ journeys… Maybe this week’s 5-Minute Whiteboard can help.


Howdy SparkToro fans, and welcome to another edition of five minute whiteboard. This week: if you’re marketing is not matching your customer’s journey (the journey that they take to learn about your products, to check out your brand, to decide whether they’re gonna buy from you) you’re gonna have a bad time.

I’ve been complaining about this—most recently in last week’s 5-minute whiteboard, specifically about things like putting all your content marketing efforts into just SEO keywords, or going to the wrong social media channels, or ignoring podcasts and webinars.

And all of these are problems because of this…

So, let’s let’s walk through sort of the classic customer journey. I’ll… I’ll use the marketing funnel. I know some folks don’t love the marketing funnel for a bunch of reasons, but I find it valuable as an illustration and analogy, right?

And the idea is that your customers start in—before they ever get into your funnel. They start their journey by being in a group of people that you a target or reach, and by being an audience that you wanna reach. And this pre-funnel, right, this area of pre-funnel activity is essentially: “Where do I go to learn about this topic that I have interest in or this problem that I have or might have in the future?”

It could be things as broad as, you know, their Google Discover feed or their Apple news feed. It could be subreddits that they pay attention to. It could be industry events that they go to. All of these different things that happen before they ever get in your funnel.

And then there’s top of funnel: how people learn about your brand. It’s places where you might participate or engage folks so that they learn about you. E.g. “okay, you know what? SparkToro solves an audience research problem. So, when I have an audience research problem, I’m gonna go to SparkToro because I’ve heard of them.”

Middle-of-funnel is where folks often talk about, you know, qualified leads. Whether folks are from your audience that you reach or are actually qualified for your product, and this is how customers might investigate your offering.

And then, there’s bottom of funnel, the inputs and triggers that cause them to go from “I’m interested in your solution to this problem that I’m having” to “what is it that’s gonna trigger my conversion?” Conversion could be lots of things. It could be a conversion to an email list. Right? But let’s let’s think about this from the perspective of where you do your marketing.

Now if you’re smart, hopefully, you are putting all your marketing efforts in the same places where all these activities are happening for your customers and potential customers. But for a ton of marketers, that is not the case. And that’s potentially a problem. I say potentially because… well, first let’s break this down.

Here’s a super simplistic pie chart of perhaps where people who are in the pre-funnel for, let’s say, a B2B SaaS software product might go and listen, pay attention, and learn about this problem space. And it could be that a lot of it is email newsletters. Oh, okay. People in this particular niche, maybe it’s a finance niche, turns out email newsletters are huge in the finance niche, especially for folks who are selling and buying software.

And maybe it’s some percent Google search and, you know, some percent industry publications, blogs and podcasts and webinars and videos. And then there’s a big events sector too.

Great. Wonderful. Alright.

But… What if the only kind of marketing you do is SEO and PPC?

And so the only people that you could possibly reach in the pre-funnel are the 25% who use Google Search to learn about this space?

That’s a big problem.

The only reason, the *only* reason I could possibly see to do this is if you, you as a marketer, and your marketing team is better at Google search, i.e. SEO & PPC, than anybody else in the field, and that’s your bread and butter. So, you don’t care you’re intentionally ignoring all the rest of these and doing no marketing in those places. That’s actually okay. I don’t have a problem with that. I think that’s fine to say, hey, this is where we’re gonna kick butt. This is where we’re gonna have unique value, and our marketing is all gonna be centered around this.

But if Google search is only 25% of how people learn about your sector, (and let’s be real, this is not 2005 or 2010 anymore; Google search is no longer 90% of how all trade and commerce on the Internet works) then you’re in trouble. Right?

I would suggest you pick at least two, probably three, maybe even four of these channels to invest in. And you should know what this is for your top of funnel, your middle of funnel, and your bottom of funnel. It looks completely different. Right?

It’s not gonna be all Google search at the top of the funnel and no Google search in the bottom. No. In fact, there’s probably gonna be a bunch of bottom of funnel Google searches around your brand. There’ll probably be a bunch of Google searches around comparison stuff and industry publications that compare and contrast.

What I’m saying here is: You have to know how this pie chart, this distribution applies at each of these stages so that you can make intelligent decisions about where to put your marketing effort and energy. And if your CMO, your VP of marketing, your client’s VP of marketing, if they’re not telling you what those are, it’s your job to do audience research and figure those out.

Alright. See you again next week for another edition of 5-minute Whiteboard. Take care.