How to Map Your Customer Journey and Acquire New Customers Profitably

How to Map Your Customer Journey and Acquire New Customers Profitably

Ecommerce sales grew 14.9% from 2018 to 2019. Based on those numbers, the expectation for 2020 ecommerce sales was around $691.4 billion. 


What really happened? Klaviyo called it that ecommerce sales would grow 85% and hit $1.1 TRILLION. 


On the surface, it could seem like massive ecommerce growth is going to be good for all ecommerce businesses. 


But the problem is that this resulted in more competition for all online stores. And customer acquisition is more expensive than ever. 


So how do you beat the competition and acquire customers profitably? By following Merchant Mastery’s playbook for accelerating year-over-year sales.

When it comes to acquiring new customers profitably, the most important thing to understand is that the Ascend stage is your number-one profit opportunity. 


So what is the Ascend stage?

Part 1: The Customer Value Journey

Adapted from DigitalMarketer’s original Customer Value Journey, Merchant Mastery’s founder and CEO Scott Cunningham breaks down the customer journey like this.



1. Aware
The customer discovers you can get them from a pain state to a gain state.

2. Engage
The customer gets a deeper sense of trust and familiarity with your brand.

3. Subscribe
The customer is interested in continuing the conversation.

4. Convert
The customer commits to giving the relationship a try.

5. Excite
The customer experiences value and becomes a believer.

6. Ascend
The customer purchases more products that complete transformation.

7. Advocate
The customer vouches for you on your behalf.

8. Promote
The customer tells friends and family how you delivered their transformation.

And that sounds GREAT in terms of marketing theory, but how does that break down into tangible ecommerce tactics? What is your profitability as you advance the customer through their journey?


1. Aware 
The customer discovers you can get them from a pain state to a gain state.

  • Use Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube Ads, and Affiliate marketing to build this awareness. Lean into their pain state in your ads and tease what’s possible with the transformation your product offers. 

  • ❌ As a brand, you’re not going to be profitable at this stage. 

2. Engage 
The customer gets a deeper sense of trust and familiarity with your brand.

  • Develop a compelling product page, presell page, and retargeting pixel + ads that validate your authority and remind the customer the value you can provide. 

  • ❌ Like with the Aware stage, you’re still spending to get the customer to the Convert stage.

3. Subscribe
The customer is interested in continuing the conversation.

  • Use an “always on” opt-in to access offer (ex. 20% off your first purchase when you sign up for our newsletter). Implement pre-purchase and abandoned cart flows to keep the conversation going. 

  • ❌ The customer hasn’t invested yet, so you’re still spending to advance them through the journey.

4. Convert
The customer commits to giving the relationship a try.

  • Have a front-end offer (that would be silly to pass up on) and offers to increase AOV so your customer’s first commitment feels like a safe one. 

  • ▶️When customers start buying for the very first time, you start to offset the advertising investment that you’ve made in them.

5. Excite
The customer experiences value and becomes a believer.

  • Use a post-purchase upsell by confirming their order and asking if they want to add anything to their cart! When they receive the product, they get the “White Glove” treatment. They love unpacking it and fall in love with the product before they use it. 

  • ▶️ As a brand, the goal here is to break even.

6. Ascend
The customer purchases more products that complete transformation.

  • This is all about Customer Lifetime Value. Invite them to join your loyalty programs, send broadcast emails and “hot ads” to make sure they continue to enjoy your product more.

  •  ✅ ✅ ✅ Finally, this is your real profit opportunity. This is when you can resell to those customers again and again throughout a lifetime and start to earn better margins. There’s no more customer acquisition costs when you sell to a customer who has already bought from you.

7. Advocate
The customer vouches for you on your behalf.

  • Set up automated flows that collect testimonials from your best customers. 

  •  ✅ These testimonials lead to more customers trusting you and buying from you for the first time.

8. Promote
The customer tells friends and family how you delivered their transformation.

  • Invite your customer to share friends and family discount codes, referral bonuses, or prizes for sharing on social!

  •  ✅ They’re sending you more referrals, more leads, and everyone is happy.

Part 2:  The Offer Strategies


Here’s the thing. You want to grow your online store profitably and sustainably. But the reality is, at the bottom three stages, you’re not making any money. You’re just spending in order to get them to the Convert stage. 


So if you want to acquire customers profitably, you need to think about your front and offer. Scott calls these the “Always on” offers.


In general, your “Always on” offers have two goals. 

#1 Always Grow Your Email List


#2 Always Get the First Time Purchase


Here are some examples of different types of “Always on” offers:

  • “Just Pay the Shipping!”

  • Free Gift with Purchase

  • Spin to Win

  • Free Shipping Threshold (ex. Free shipping on all orders over $30)

  • Welcome Discount (ex. Take 10% off your order when you join our newsletter)

  • Exit Intent Cart Savers (10% off a $200 cart, 20% off a $500 cart, etc.)


Now that you’ve got your customers to convert with your “Always on” offers, you need to get your customer to the Ascend stage, where the profitability truly lies. 


And for that, you need to focus on two things:


#1 List Building and Email Strategy

#2 Scaling on Facebook


That’s exactly what Scott covers in this video, so you can automate your revenue-generating marketing and maximize your audience targeting. Check it out and implement their strategy for growing a sustainable, scalable online store.

4 Insights to Attract More Customers During the 2020 Holiday Season

4 Insights to Attract More Customers During the 2020 Holiday Season

Amidst changing consumer preferences, new COVID-related safety measures, and supply-chain setbacks, many marketers are adapting their playbooks in preparation for an unprecedented holiday season. With the majority of consumers working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) events are bound to be unprecedented.

Big retailers are also closing brick and mortar locations to address public health concerns and to decrease overhead costs. As a result, the current climate is quite unpredictable and at times unsteady. How can brands cut through the noise ahead of the Holiday season to win big?

It’s important for advertisers and brands alike to take a close look at the recent consumer trends in order to properly pivot in order to have a successful Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Holiday Season. Read on for key pre-Black Friday insights and findings.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Starts Early

Due to the unprecedented and sometimes chaotic nature of the global pandemic, it’s no surprise that consumers may feel overwhelmed or indecisive. A recent consumer report by Fluent revealed that 59% of consumers are unsure when or how they will conduct their holiday shopping.

Holiday shopping and black friday

This presents advertisers with a keen opportunity to help consumers make a holiday shopping plan. By making sure online offers and shopping experiences closely mimic in-person shopping experiences, advertisers can tap into consumers’ needs for a sense of normalcy and familiarity.

Further, many brands are launching their holiday and BFCM deals earlier this year. Walmart started promoting their annual Black Friday sale on the 4th of November. Some brands are even planning on continuing to have BFCM offers beyond the thanksgiving weekend as an incentive to get indecisive shoppers to engage.

This may be an advantageous tactic, especially because as we draw near to the holidays, shipping times are expected to increase because online orders have doubled during the pandemic — pre-Holiday season no less. As a brand, it’s important to be very vocal about shipping times. Having constant reminders on websites, in ads and on social media will help to ensure that consumers know when they need to place an order by to receive their delivery in time for the holidays. Recently, there’s also been a shift towards offering free expedited shipping, as opposed to just free standard shipping.

Was Amazon Prime Day Too Early?

Another big change this year was Amazon Prime Day. Amazon typically holds their annual 2-day savings event during the summer. This year however, they opted to have it in October.

According to Fluent’s consumer Pulse report, 22% of surveyed consumer didn’t shop this prime day. Prime day was likely too close to Black Friday to make it worth it for consumers who didn’t participate this year. These consumers are likely waiting for better deals, like the ones typically seen during BFCM. What does this mean for your brand? COVID-19 has led to individuals being placed on leave or furloughed. At this time, shoppers may be putting a greater emphasis on the value of offers and sales. As a result, there has been a recent shift towards deep discounting with some marketers promoting 70% off first-time purchases.

Amazon Prime Day

Another reason for the reduced Prime day participation could be that certain consumers could have been waiting to make up their mind. As we saw from Fluent’s findings, users may not know how to go about shopping this holiday season. This is an opportunity for advertisers to reduce friction and to remove barriers to entry. Making their holiday shopping as painless as possible is sure to be a strong motivator.

Lastly, those who did participate in this year’s Prime day savings event spent more than in previous years. This suggests that consumers who do have the means may be spending more online than ever before. There’s also been an uptick in ‘self-gifting’, likely as a result of restrictions and health guidelines and the impact they’ve had on people’s ‘self-care’ routines.

Mimic In-Person Shopping Where Possible

The pandemic has brought on quite a few unique shopping experiences. More than ever, there is an emphasis on Click and Collect, Buy Online Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup orders to ease tensions around shopping in stores. There is also a big emphasis on highlighting any changes that have been made to ensure in-store safety protocols.

Holiday shopping black friday

Where pickup or in-store shopping experiences aren’t possible, it’s important to make sure that online shopping experiences feel familiar and comfortable to shoppers.

This includes:

  1. Adding deep links to your emails, ads or app notifications and push notifications will make it easier for shoppers to find items they’re interested in.
  2. Adding a pop-up before users check out can entice users to grab a few more items like they would in a check-out aisle in stores.
  3. Offering ‘at-home kits’ for experiences users can no longer have in person (for example, a pre-cooked Thanksgiving meal or an at-home gel manicure set) can increase the bottom line by tapping into new audiences while filling a gap in the market caused by restrictions and closure.

If you’re pivoting, pivot with intention. This is a great time to do it!

Christmas Compassion – Give the Gift of Giving

Since a large number of people are concerned about savings, it’d be greatly advantageous for advertisers to lean into that; people are looking for help this year given that loads of folks have been affected by COVID-19. Any deal or offer that will lower a barrier to entry for shoppers will yield better results.

holiday gifting black friday

There has also been a shift recently where brands are leaning in to more philanthropic and ‘here to help’ messaging and offers to ease concerns around holiday spending and expensive items. Others are actually giving back (via their offers) to COVID relief initiatives, unemployment, or homelessness relief programs. There’s also a big focus on helping small and local businesses who may be struggling due to the pandemic.

Ensuring that messaging and collateral leverages these points where possible (and in a genuine way) is a great way to help consumers get through their gift lists while simultaneously giving back to the community.

Hit the Ground Running this Holiday Season

Given these insights, advertisers should aim to offer more aggressive deals, start Black Friday deals earlier and potentially after Thanksgiving to catch late buyers, and add ‘up-selling’ campaigns to their media plans to capture multi/big purchase consumers.

For more holiday shopping tips and tricks, make sure to watch Fluent’s latest webinar, Holiday Shopping Insights: Trends & Insights for Marketers.

If you are interested in taking your performance to the next level, let’s chat. We’re here to help!

The State of Local SEO and How to Get More Local Customers

The State of Local SEO and How to Get More Local Customers

Do you want to acquire more local customers from search?… Of course, you do!

First, you need to understand that SEO is no longer the way it used to be. A lot of has changed. In fact, the impact of these changes are more glaring in local search engine optimization.

When it comes to Local SEO, you need to get serious with Google My Business Page and citations.

When you implement both practices, you’re telling local consumers and search engines alike that you’re open for business. And your sales will possibly increase.

Remember that local searches are more likely to lead to sales, compared to non-local searches. According to a research study by Google, 18% of local smartphone searches generated a purchase within 24 hours.

Of course, links are still important to search rankings, but the approach has changed a lot in the last 3 years. You now need to understand the on-page technicalities first, before moving out to get links.

Make no mistakes about it. Modern SEO boils down to listening to and attending to your website’s visitor – people who consume your content, after clicking on your search result from Google organic listings.

It’s no secret that you have to do more to thrive in the search these days. If you choose to manipulate search using blackhat techniques, you may end up losing your precious rankings.

That’s why I created this in-depth article, to help you understand the State of Local SEO & where to pay attention now.

Your SEO is not all about ranking #1

If you think that SEO is all about getting ranked in #1 position, then you’re making a deadly mistake. Of course who wouldn’t desire that spot – but that’s not the focus.

At the end of the day, the focus of SEO is to build sustainable rankings for your target keywords. You want to rank today, tomorrow, and even next year.

For this to happen, you need an effective social media strategy – because social signals have become an integral part of organic ranking factors.

Once you pass some social juice to your web pages, every other effort would yield better results. In fact, your CTR will weigh more – because you have a lot of people engaging with your content on social media sites.

So the #1 result in Google may not always get the most clicks. Remember that majority of your searchers, especially those outside internet marketing field don’t know the difference between organic and paid search results.

To a large extent, what determines whether a search result (both organic and paid) gets clicked on is the title, meta description, and page URL. And more importantly, the local map packs with reviews and star ratings.

For example, I searched for “plumber” but I don’t feel excited with these results. So I’ll skip them and scroll down a bit.

Scrolling down the same page, a search result in the Google maps caught my attention. I thought I should click on this one. With all these reviews and ratings from real customers, how can I go wrong?

Your localized link is your new advantage

In today’s local rankings, where you got your inbound links play a vital role in the search rankings.

More so, if you get more links from relevant directories and websites in the same geographical area, Google may reward you better.

And for that to work, you need to gain links to your brand social media, to your product page (or specific service page), and pass more link juice to your video content. [image

To surmount your competition, you don’t need the best website design or a huge marketing budget. You need compelling content and trusted backlinks. It’s your new advantage.

Compelling content will help you rank for several long-tail keywords that you’re not directly targeting. And being on Google’s first page drives more clicks to your local business landing pages.

Note that when you get few inbound links from a website with high domain authority, this can improve your rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

On the flip side, low domain authority websites can result in a nose dive for your web pages that are already climbing the top of organic listings. Ahrefs conducted an exclusive research study in this respect.

If you look at it closely, you’ll agree with me that modern SEO isn’t about keywords, but on the searcher’s intent.

For example, why do people search for “small business tools” in Google?

Are they looking for tools to buy, or they just want to learn how fast new tools are being released in the small business field?

An in-depth market research will answer that question.

Higher Organic Rankings depends on how much you engage your site users

Truly, links are the lifeblood of local search rankings.

But all links are not created equal.

Since 2014, brands that proactively research authority websites, build relationships, and eventually earned links to their web pages, have seen a spike in organic rankings as the year goes by.

The imminent challenge that local businesses face is the time and expertise to build these links. If you’re in the same both, the solution is to:

Build engagement with site visitors.

Engagement is so important.

For instance, when website visitors are engaged, they’ll share content, cite it, leave valuable comments, write honest reviews, and push your brand to the spotlight through word of mouth.

When I did a search for plumber earlier, did you notice what inspired me to click on a search result?

Reviews and star ratings.

You’ll often find reviews and star ratings in rich snippets of the organic search results.

Reviews are hard to get.

Reviews speak volumes and show how responsive your customers and website visitors are towards your content or product.

Customer reviews may not improve your search rankings (at least Google hasn’t made it clear yet), but it improves user experience.

Consequently, the more reviews your local business garner, the more inspired and ready your customers will be. It can increase your product orders.

From the results above, I can boldly say that the trust level you have with customers can be directly or indirectly traced to how engaging your content is.

Yes the term “content engagement” has become a buzzword. So many local businesses throw it around, but only a few people truly knows what it means.

Of course engagement could mean several things at the same time. But when it comes to getting more local customers through content, the engagement that you want can be summarized in these few points:

  • Get local clients to click on your headline and read your content.
  • Your content inspires local clients to call your business.
  • Your ideal customers find your physical business address, and take steps to visit you now or later.
  • Get customers to place order on your online store.

And so forth.

At the end of the day, you want to track conversions, not some vanity metrics like reach, comments, and so on.

However, you can increase content engagement if you understand the consumer engagement cycle. This is more or less the various paths that your ideal customer must tour, before deciding on your business.


Local SEO is all about telling great story of your brand without rambling endlessly. You don’t have to be a natural-born storyteller.

Great storytelling entrepreneurs thrive on a simple secret:

They understand their audience more than the average Joe.

In your page title, page description, and within your content, find reasons to tell stories that pique the user’s mind. Don’t stuff keywords. Instead, stuff your content with stories.

This is Marcus Sheridan’s strategy. Though he’s known as a pools guy, but by telling stories of his brand and the struggles he had to go through, his local business went international.

And guess what? Today, he generates more traffic from organic searches. Every challenge that you’ve experienced is a goldmine when creating content.

Tap into it – and tell the story – while driving your brand message home. Your local customers will understand it better.


This article was a contribution from Michael Chibuzor, who is a seasoned freelance writer. If you’re looking for long-form articles that drives traffic and sales, visit