From awareness to advocacy: Mastering the 5 steps of the customer journey

As a marketer, you fulfill a crucial role in the growth of the business you work for: converting prospects into qualified leads for the sales department. The best way to do that, is to provide your contacts with relevant content at exactly the right time and place. This is what we call moving your communication from ‘push’ to ‘pull’. And the best way to get there is to map and use a ‘buyer journey’.

The buyer journey is the active process which leads a potential buyer to an actual purchase. This online scenario runs through 5 different stages. Ideally, the first three (awareness – consideration – decision) are consolidated by stage four and five (retention – advocacy).

During each of these stages, your prospect will be looking for specific information. The type of content you provide in each stage is crucial to hand people the answers they are looking for.

Now let’s look at the stages of the customer journey, one at a time.

1. Awareness

Your prospect has a specific need or problem. Yet he can’t clearly define what it is. In response, he or she will do some broad research, trying to get the right answers. At this stage, it is way too soon to expect a purchasing decision.

During this stage, prospects are looking for general information and solutions to their problems. They may not be aware of your brand yet, so it's important to create educational content that addresses their needs. For example, if you sell skincare products, you could create a blog post on "10 Skincare Tips for Healthy, Glowing Skin."

2. Consideration

The need or problem has been clearly defined. Now your prospect extends his or her research to different angles and approaches to solve the problem or fulfill the need. The result of this research is a longlist or shortlist of options. Your job as a marketer: be on that list!

At this stage, prospects have identified their problem and are actively researching different solutions. To capture their attention, you need to provide detailed information about your product or service. For example, if you sell digital marketing services, you could create a whitepaper on "The Benefits of SEO for Small Businesses."

3. Decision

The prospect has chosen a strategy — an approach or a solution — to solve the problem. Now he or she will most likely make a list of providers/suppliers. After comparing the different options, the prospect will make a final purchasing decision.

At this point a sale is closed and you could consider the cycle to be finished. From a brand and business perspective however, there is still an immense value in what follows.

Prospects have narrowed down their options and are ready to make a purchase. At this stage, you need to build trust and provide social proof. This can be achieved through customer reviews, case studies, and testimonials. For example, you could showcase customer success stories on your website or social media channels.

4. Retention

At this point you have worked hard to gain your prospect’s trust and to turn them into a first-time buyer. At this stage of the customer journey you’ll focus on follow-up purchases.

The good news is, that it’s far easier and 5 times cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. However, this means that some of your most important work is still to be done. Make sure to follow up with your new client and encourage repeat purchases by:

  • thanking your client for his or her purchase

  • getting their feedback on the product/ service they purchased

  • showing them that you appreciate their loyalty and are willing to reward them for it

Once a customer has made a purchase, your focus should shift to building a long-term relationship. This can be achieved by providing excellent customer service, sending personalized follow-up emails, and offering loyalty programs. For example, you could send a thank-you email after a purchase with a discount code for their next purchase.

5. Advocacy

This is the last stage of the customer journey and the hardest one to achieve: to turn your customer into an active advocate for your brand. They give you great reviews, refer their friends and family, and generate the most powerful kind of marketing there is: word-of-mouth.

How do you get your customers to advocate for you?

  • By nurturing them every step of the way with personal value, attentiveness and respect.

  • By delivering a great product or service that does exactly what it promises.

  • And surprisingly: by simply asking them to recommend what you’re selling.

This is the most challenging stage, but also the most rewarding. To turn customers into advocates, you need to provide exceptional products and service, and make it easy for them to recommend your brand to others. For example, you could offer a referral program that rewards customers for bringing in new business, or encourage customers to leave reviews on third-party review sites.


Prospects and customers have a different need for information in every stage of the buyer journey. It is crucial for your business to deliver the right content at the right time and place. Tailoring your content to your audience’s needs enables you to gain insights and steer the purchasing decision process. Map out a buyer journey and design your marketing activities accordingly. This is the foundation for every successful Inbound Marketing strategy.

Contact us to see how we can help you design a successful inbound marketing strategy tailored to your buyer journey, and convert more prospects into loyal customers.

Dit blog is geschreven door de specialisten van Raak.

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