Close this search box.

Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash


Reading time: 8 minutes

Crafting your audience journey

Building a path of value and loyalty

You, your organisation, and your brand are in the business of making money. That doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t provide value to your audience. To be honest, the only way you’d be making money is if you are indeed providing value.

One of the best ways to showcase your value and engage your audience is by providing an enjoyable and optimised audience journey across your experience. Through this they can receive the value they are looking for and you can make money to continue to offer this value.

The audience journey is the experience that your audience members go through when receiving anything you provide, it is how you’ve mapped out what steps they take when and where to get what. In essence, it’s another way of describing a marketing and sales funnel.

The audience journey map exists on both a macro level, the marketing funnel, and a micro level, the sales funnel. Within AEX design the borrowed nomenclature of the macro and micro levels of the audience journey are the 6 stages at the macro level and Nir Eyal’s Hooked Model at the micro level.

The audience journey map

To ensure effective audience acquisition, engagement and retention, you and your organisation need to have a well-crafted and holistic audience journey. And it needs to be done at both the macro level of the 6 stages, and at the micro level in each stage with something like the Hooked Model.

The 6 stages that we’re discussing here are how your audience goes through the experience step-by-step. The 6 stages consist of:

  1. Discovery
  2. Acquisition
  3. Onboarding
  4. Instructional Scaffolding
  5. Mastery/Adept
  6. Endgame

As you can see some of the terminology is taken from gamification and behaviourism. Though mastery and endgame need not mean a literal end. Within each of these stages, you can in theory add the micro level of the Hooked Model. The Hooked Model consists of:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Reward
  4. Investment

And then looping back in on itself.

My recommendation would be though that when it’s added to the first two stages, the loop is used to provide more value to your audience than what they would want to reciprocate. A simple example of this would be to offer a free eBook or Instructional PDF that they can use for an actual quick win, in exchange for their email address.

Once they see the value you are providing, they’ll move up in the stages of the macro level, and at the micro level, the exchange can slowly alter into a monetary one.

But none of this matters until their awareness matches the value offered.

Audience awareness & acquisition

To get your audience on this journey path, they need to discover you and be aware of what you offer. Your discovery stage needs to grab them, this can be done through a marketing campaign, advertising, social media, etc. When they finally become ‘aware’ of you, you will need to be able to represent their goals and show that you have understood them. This is done through market and audience research, but this information gathering is vital.

As discussed in the article on EPICQ Goals, once you’ve discovered what your audience’s goals are, they should hopefully align with your organisation’s goals. Yours is to provide a solution, and your audience’s goal is to have a problem or issue solved.

Once your audience has discovered you and sees that their goals are represented and their interests are understood, you can then move into the further stages of the journey. Within each stage, you can implement the Hooked Model concept to grab them and develop behaviours that lead to a healthy, positive symbiotic relationship of long-term loyalty.

In each stage, you give your audience a trigger to take an action that benefits them, that delivers a reward of value to them, which then facilitates investment into your brand.

Each stage can have one or multiple of these implementations, that show your audience the benefits of staying loyal to you and returning, and that together both your goals can be achieved.

The overall aim of the audience journey on both the macro and micro level is not to overtly make money but rather to gain a loyal returning audience who genuinely receives value from you and your brand. Anything else is likely to move towards a negative perception/experience and either alienate or strip mines the trust and confidence of your audience.

Adding to your audience's journey

Some additions to keep in mind when you are crafting and mapping your audience’s journey.

Firstly, the most obvious at this point should be the inclusion of loyalty programs. You will want and need to reward your audience for being loyal to you. And these types of efforts can be both visible and invisible, as discussed in the Audience Loyalty article. A program like this does not need to be over the top, but it is a good and very useful addition. As can be seen from these reports of McKinsey around regular and paid loyalty programs.

The second point, which links in well to loyalty programs, is adding in gamified elements. As your audience moves through the stages and steps of your experience, the rewards and progression of their journey can be fully gamified. As they move through your ecosystem, a loyalty program could be one gamified aspect where the rewards given need not only be the product or service they purchase but can also include redeemable points. The points can be used to further explore your offerings and gain more value from you.

A third aspect is adding more opportunities with engagement elements. Usually termed as cross-selling, or cross-pollination, you can offer multiple options for value across a variety of verticals (if you have them). Or across a variety of other offerings, this will improve your audience’s perception of you and increase the perceived value of your brand.

Final thoughts

The most obvious point that I should reiterate is that you should always be providing value to your audience. This is the only way that you can make money. And it’s the only reason that they will return to you.

The value item that the audience then receives should be something that helps them to achieve their goal(s) and solve the problem they have. What you don’t want is that your audience leaves with something useless that did not add value or solve anything, as then they will not return.

When mapping out your audience journey on both the macro and micro levels, it needs to have a well-crafted strategy that allows for a guiding policy of goals and actions to be taken, that lead to an implementable plan. For additional insight into the creation of a good strategy, I can recommend Roger Martin.

Having a good strategy and eventual plan is especially true and required when using gamification and engagement mechanics. As you need a clear vision as to why you are using certain elements and not others to bring both you and your audience closer to achieving your goals. Because just implementing ideas willy-nilly without a strategy has a good chance of leading to ruin.

At the end of the day, the audience journey should be an enjoyable and efficient experience for your audience members. Something that makes it easy to understand and respects your audience’s needs and desires will lead to higher acquisition and retention numbers for your organisation and brand.

I hope that this piece has given you some food for thought and helped improve your own methods or at least offered a different viewpoint to consider.

Do check out the other posts on æ, and do leave a comment or contact us if you have some ideas of your own that you wish to discuss or if you would like to see other topics discussed.

Please do Share if you found it helpful and if you know of someone who would it find it helpful as well. 


And if you wish to support us in any way, then you can do so by buying us a Beer or a Coffee.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

before you go!

Before you go and grab your copy of Press Start, would you like your free White Paper on how to better engage your audience and other bonuses?

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Before you go!

Before you go and grab your copy of Press Start, would you like your free White Paper on how to better engage your audience and other bonuses?

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.