The Four Stages of Customer Acquisition

Out with the old and in with the new: traditional marketing funnels and linear pathways to purchase are a thing of the past. The customer journey now consists of four interconnected stages of customer acquisition: Find, Buy, Ask, and Advocate.

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Based on years of customer acquisition strategy refinement, Clearlink has defined and optimized each stage of the journey for our partners and customers:

  • Find: In the Find stage, customers become exposed to a brand, goods, or services via organic search, targeted ads, word of mouth, and more. Brands that excel in the Find stage analyze past conversion paths to inform future strategy and tactics to increase their appeal to more customers.
  • Buy: If brands have marketed correctly, shoppers take action and become customers. Depending on their preferences, individuals pick up the phone, engage over chat, or order online. The Buy stage directly impacts revenue, so brands must maximize performance and remove friction during this stage. Up-selling and cross-selling—when applicable—are also key strategies in this stage.
  • Ask: When they have questions, customers reach out to support services. If a company does it well, and consistently, customers are more likely to stay on with the brand long-term. The Ask stage is done best by brands that are able to provide clear customer care content in a variety of formats to meet their customers where they are.
  • Advocate: Individual consumers transform from customers into ambassadors. Ambassadors—both intentionally and unintentionally—help build brand reputation online and in person. Their advocacy helps drive interest back to the Find stage, perpetuating the cycle.

Each stage can stand on its own and can be identified by a customer at any point in time, so in order for a customer acquisition and retention strategy to be successful, strategies must focus on all stages—not just one singularly.

Plus, today’s customer demands more from their buying decision processes, which impacts a brand’s ability to identify, target, and empathize with existing and potential customers. This change means the stages of customer acquisition must connect seamlessly—and function independently of each other.

In order for a customer acquisition and retention strategy to be successful, strategies must focus on all stages of customer acquisition.

We’re committed to discovering, refining, and optimizing the customer journey and defining customer acquisition best practices for our partners and customers. As such, we’ve identified four companies that have showcased the ability to improve the Find, Buy, Ask, and Advocate stages from a marketing perspective. Stay tuned for more in our upcoming series on Customer Acquisition Best Practices.

Monique Seitz-Davis

With ten years of professional marketing experience, Monique brings a passion for telling brand stories to her writing for Clearlink. Prior work includes collaborative projects with companies like Merrell, Backcountry, Cotopaxi, and Wit and Delight. When she’s not copywriting, you can find Monique trail running, rabble-rousing with her pups, or practicing her bird calls.

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