The Learning Stage of the Journey

The Learning Stage of the customer journey is incredibly important for consumers as they begin to shape their brain with new ideas and opinions about a category, but this stage is also incredibly underserved by advertisers. This is the stage of the journey where people are uncovering their options. They are asking important questions to understand better how to shop a category. Most importantly, they are doing it because something just happened in their life that moved them from category indifference to category engagement. They experienced a trigger moment, perhaps a major life event or perhaps something much smaller that moved them to action. Regardless of the importance of that moment for them, the importance for an advertiser is critical.

Speaking to them in a way that relates to their trigger moment is more impactful than speaking to them based on what they look like or how they generally think about the world – traits covered by typical segmentation studies, which tend to be incredibly unactionable in real-world marketing. Sure, its even better if you can pull segmentation elements through your marketing to fit each unique audience, but starting with trigger relevance is the stronger starting point for performance.

Advertisers should invest in the Learning Stage of the journey for their brand’s top trigger moments long before they think about sinking valuable dollars into wider brand awareness campaigns. The filters to apply to these audiences are Addressability, Volume Potential, and Brand Fit.

  • Addressability: the ability to find them “in the wild” and reach them with a marketing communication.
  • Volume Potential: the scale of the audience, likelihood of conversion, and typical revenue generated from the conversion.
  • Brand Fit: the ability for the advertiser to speak uniquely to that audience with an offering and proof points to substantiate it.

Take the example of a cleaning service. One prospective customer might getting ready to list their home for sale and anticipate needing a regular service to come by before showings and open houses. Another customer might be getting ready to entertain some guests for a special occasion and be open minded to a more intensive, one-time service to prep their space. Both of these customers have a Trigger Moment and are in the Learning Stage, and both of them are likely doing some pretty common things related to these trigger moments. These are addressable audiences with unique perspectives and a high likelihood to make a purchase soon. These events happen quite often and certainly have volume potential, and the right cleaning service might find these shoppers to have strong brand fit to their offerings.

The best a cleaning service advertiser could do is relate to these two customers based on their trigger moments. One is met with marketing that finds them in relevant touchpoints as they think about selling their house, with a message and offering that speaks to their needs. The other is met with marketing that finds them in relevant touchpoints as they plan for their party or event, with a different message and offering that speaks to their different needs.

When advertisers set out down a path to intersect more closely with customers based on what they need in the Learning Stage of the journey, they outperform those that scream from the rooftops about their brand or simply wait for those same customers to search the category on Google.