The customer journey at the heart of digital marketing

The customer journey is fundamental when working in marketing and sales. The awareness barrel is one of the most important things to understand when creating a digital communication or marketing plan. It is based on the customer and the customer’s problem and how aware they are that they have a problem. This is the basis for shaping your communication.

The sales funnel – or sales funnel as it is also known – is a long-established concept in sales. At the far end, it is wide and symbolizes the lack of interest of many. At the far end, the tunnel is narrow, symbolizing that there are not nearly as many people interested, but that the few remaining are very interested in buying.

The awareness tunnel is based on the same principle. It consists of five levels:

  • Unaware of problems
  • Problem-oriented
  • Solution-oriented
  • Product awareness
  • Fully aware

Actually, the awareness tunnel is a decision-making tool. However, as marketing is about getting potential customers to make (buying) decisions, it can be used in your marketing and communication.

Building on the customer’s problem at the center

Good digital marketing – and something like storybranding is based on the idea that everything is about the customer and the customer’s problem. Your task as a company/brand is to solve the customer’s problem.

The five levels are quite clearly distinct:

Unaware of problems

Your potential customer does not even know that they have the problem that your product or service can solve. Your communication to this target group should make them aware that there is a problem. The communication is in no way about your products or services.


The customer is aware that there is a problem. But no more. It does not know what the solution to the problem is. Communicating to this audience is also not about your offer.


Customer understands what the solution to the problem is. But not what the best product to solve the problem is.

Product awareness

In this phase, the customer understands where the solution to the problem is. Now they are focused on and receptive to communication about the benefits of your product or service.

Fully aware

The customer is fully aware that there is a problem and a solution and what the best product is. The customer does not need more knowledge to make decisions. The communication to this target group is about classic sales with good offers.

Communication adapted to the tunnel of consciousness

Depending on where the customer is in the awareness tunnel, the platform and medium for communication is different. For example, there is little point in creating content for Google to attract those who are not even aware that they have a problem. Then it is better to try to meet them on social media with clear target groups.

However, Google is brilliant when the customer is problem- or solution-oriented.

If they are product-conscious, your company website is the main channel.

If they are poorly aware or ready to make a decision, your contact page on the site is the most important channel for you.

As you can see, where the customer is in the awareness tunnel is directly related to how and what you communicate.

Worth noting: in the first four steps there is very little selling. Instead, it is about communication similar to classic editorial communication. This is why content marketing is so important in modern marketing.

The awareness tunnel – example

The Swedish gazelle champion engcon is a good example to describe the awareness tunnel. The Jämtland-based company is a world leader in the manufacture of handrails for excavators.

When I briefly worked for them, much of the focus was on breaking into the US market.

There, in the US, the market did not even know that there is such a thing as a tiltrotator. This should be compared with Sweden where over 90% of all excavators have a tiltrotator and the big question is whether to buy from engcon or the main competitor Rototilt. Here, the market is almost entirely product-conscious. If not fully aware (most people know that Rototilt is good with engcon better).

In the US, however, communication was about making the market understand that they have a problem, that they can work much more efficiently.

In Sweden, communication is about getting the market to choose engcon over any other alternative (which the market already does to a large extent).

The awareness tunnel – example engcon

Applied to engcon tiltrotators, the awareness tunnel looks like this:

Unaware of problems

The owner of the excavator does not know that there is a way to work 30% faster with the excavator.


The owner of the excavator has realized that the way he has always worked is outdated and inefficient. But he has not understood exactly how he can be more effective.


Customer understands what an excavator wrist – a tiltrotator – is and how it works.

Product awareness

Customers know that engcon is the largest with over 50% of the world market and that Rototilt is the second largest with about half the size of engcon. And that the rest of the market is made up of a number of smaller players who do not have quite as good products. The customer also knows the different relevant models of each option.

Fully aware

The customer knows the pros and cons of engcon and Rototilt. They know engcon’s safety mindset with the automatic fastening system with EC-Oil. They also know what engcon and Rototilt cost.

In other words, all the question marks are reduced to exclamation marks.

From a knowledge perspective, the customer is ready to do business.

Understanding where the customer is in the tunnel of consciousness is fundamental to effective communication.

And effective sales.