One of the frameworks that I like in regard to developing Marketing strategies and plans (particularly for consumer Internet sites) is the 5A’s:
Awareness (making your target audience aware of your site, and authentically communicating to them why they should care)
Acquisition (getting someone to your site – actually visit it!)
Activation (register, sign up, do something!)
Activity (engage, participate, contribute, buy something)
Advocacy* (get excited and tell someone about it!)
In looking at this framework, you’ll immediately recognize that what you want to do is constantly pump people into the top of the funnel, and migrate them all the way down into the Activity bucket, as those are the ones who are the most valuable to you. If you imagine a funnel, the funnel narrows as you migrate your target audience down the 5A funnel, and what makes it through is your core customer base. Be sure to love and worship and stroke those who make it all the way down the funnel.
You’ll also recognize that each stage of the funnel has friction associated with the migration process. You might get awareness, but no catalyst to get someone to visit. You might acquire a visitor who leaks when it’s time to sign-up. After signing up, you might lose someone’s interest who doesn’t “get it” and never actually gets engaged. There are any number of ways that your users get lost or stuck on their way to becoming an active customer.
But, at the end of the day, when you think about the successful stories out there, the best companies have loads of passionate customers who flow smoothly and easily through the funnel, and become company and product zealots in the process.
*Update (May 30, 2008): After a stimulating and vibrant discussion with an investor this past week, he shared with me an idea that he credits to John Dillon and that is the notion of “Awareness to Advocacy”. The idea, as I understand it, is to strive to ever-shorten the cycle from customers first becoming aware of a product or service, to converting them to becoming a mouthpiece for it. I like this idea a lot. See how dynamic and interactive this content is?
Hence, the 5th A, and arguably the holy grail of the A’s – advocacy.
Aside: This reminds me of my own awareness-to-advocacy experience where a co-worker turned me on to a great music stream called Radio Paradise, and within weeks, I was not only all the way down the funnel, but found myself pimping it to any of my music loving pals who would listen.
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