This is a contributed post from Content First, an ActiveCampaign Certified Consultant.

Winning more customers and driving business ahead faster.
That’s why we’re all here, right?
What if I told you that a literal “blueprint” for the optimal communication pathway for trust and relationship building has been discovered.
One that when followed…

  • Engineers intimacy and trust
  • Ignites business growth
  • And keeps customers loyal, while actually having them do your marketing for you

(At Content First, we first rolled out this new framework in 2017 for one of our childcare clients, and it drove over $16M in annual revenue – with a 11,762.52% ROI on marketing spend).
Shout out: Credit where credit is due—as a Digital Marketer Partner we were introduced to the Customer Value Journey by Ryan Deiss and the talented team at Digital Marketer. They introduced us to the framework and in this article we’re going to explore how we’re applying it to our childcare clients (and getting them great results)!

The Parent Value Journey

parent value journey
The Parent Value Journey has become our go-to planning framework for assessing how effectively our client’s communication strategy moves parents from being ‘cold prospects’ right through to becoming ‘raving fans’ of the business.
Why this works so well:

  • This process gives parents the time and space to make ‘micro-commitments’ and progressively build trust as they move along their journey
  • We setup our clients with strategies that deliver value to parents at each stage, systematically moving them down the funnel
  • Most of this journey is setup once (via ActiveCampaign) and automated, saving our client’s tons of time

Here’s what the process looks like from a parent’s perspective:
parent value journey expanded
What you’ll notice:

  • Each stage includes measurable actions (we can use to benchmark and assess how well the stage is performing)
  • This framework drives what Jay Abraham calls geometric business growth – by working on getting more customers, getting them to spend more, and getting them to spend more often – ALL at the same time
  • The journey is just a guide – sometimes parents will skip steps or go back to previous stages – that’s where marketing automation comes in to deliver a quality user experience

The ultimate goal of the Parent Value Journey is to drive enrollments into the centre, and support customer retention. In other words, revenue.
When opening a shiny new childcare centre, clients can often get to 50% enrolment in the first 6 months, but without a smart marketing strategy in place the next 50% can be harder to acquire—not to mention the opportunity cost of this taking 12-18 months vs 8-9 months.
Let’s take a look at the specific stages of the journey and how we’re using ActiveCampaign to move parents through this funnel.
ActiveCampaign plays a pivotal role in our Parent Value Journey, especially once a new prospect becomes a subscriber.

subscriber value journey

Subscribe stage

Since email continues to deliver some of the strongest ROI amongst all marketing channels, we emphasize the need for our childcare clients to build their email database of parents in local areas and begin opening relationships.
To give our client’s prospects (potential childcare customers) the ability to get a ‘taste test’ of our clients without a major commitment, we employ a range of strategies to win new subscribers:

  • We develop and offer a Lead Magnet such as a ‘Parent Info Pack’ that parents can download in exchange for their email address
  • We feature an email newsletter subscription box on our clients’ websites
  • We use on-site chat (a Facebook Messenger bot we have created) to engage with parents and answer any questions they have
  • We stream social media feeds on to our client’s websites (this provides a ton of social proof)
  • We encourage parents to follow our clients on their socials

Meaningful metrics for this stage:

  • Lead Magnet conversion rate % (visitor to download rate)
  • Email newsletter conversion rate % (visitor to subscription rate)
  • On-site chat engagement rate % (visitor to engagement rate)
  • Social platform new followers growth rate

How ActiveCampaign helps automate the Subscribe stage

Voyagers CTA form
Email newsletter subscribers are integrated into ActiveCampaign and tagged with ‘Joined Newsletter.’ We also add them to a specific deal stage in the sales pipeline which means they’re not ready for the sales team to engage, but we should keep nurturing them.
Voyager handbook
Parents get instant access to the Parent Handbook with the help of ActiveCampaign. New requests get tagged ‘Requested Parent Handbook’ to trigger automation.
Parent handbook automation
With this automation, we create a deal and add it to a specific deal stage pipeline (below). This stage indicates to centre directors that this is a new lead in their sales pipeline, but they are still in the nurturing stage.
nurturing stage pipeline
Automation that sends the parent handbook
This automation instantly sends our clients’ prospects access to the Parent Handbook.
Email that gives people the parent handbook

Convert (tour) stage

The fastest way to a new enrollment is getting prospective parents into the centres. Meeting the team, seeing the facilities and getting a feel of the vibe of the centre is crucial, so in our digital marketing the focus is on booking parents into centre tours.
Of course, some parents will be ready to enroll or join a waitlist without seeing the centre (and we use strategies to capture these parents too), but they are more the outliers than the typical.
The convert stage strategies revolve around how well we book parents into centre tours. We do this by:

  • Conversion optimisation on our client’s websites to drive parents to book a tour
  • Integrating our ‘Book a Tour’ webforms into ActiveCampaign to enable automation campaigns for tour confirmation and reminder campaigns (via email and SMS)
  • Showing offer forms using ActiveCampaign’s form triggers and inbuilt form styles
  • Using Facebook Ads to remarket to website visitors with a Book a Tour call to action
  • Feature a ‘Book a Tour’ CTA on all lead nurture emails

Meaningful metrics for this stage:

  • Tour Booked conversion rate % (visitor to tour booked rate)
  • Tour Booked and Reminder Email open rates %
  • Conversion rates on Facebook Ads % (click to tours booked rate)
  • Click Through Rate % on Tour Booked CTA on nurture emails

How ActiveCampaign helps automate the Convert stage

Book a tour experience form
Book a Tour forms on the client’s website are integrated right into Active Campaign to support Centre Tour confirmation emails, Tour reminders and automated Tour follow-ups.
Tour custom fields in ActiveCampaign
We created the following custom fields to help us manage the Centre Tours.
Tour booked automation
Then our automation moves the deal across to the ‘Tour Book’ stage so Centre Directors have a visual on who’s booked in. Finally, the automation sends the parent a Tour Confirmed email.tour confirmed deal stage
tour confirmed email
Getting parents to attend tours is crucial, so we make sure we remind them every step of the way.
tour date segment builder
We start by sending a reminder 1 day before, using the above logic.
tour reminder email
Then on the day of the tour, we send an SMS reminder:
tour SMS reminder automation
With a handy SMS that gives them a link of Google Maps to make it super easy to find the centre.
SMS message

Excite stage

Once we’ve had a parent attend a tour, then the focus switches on either having them apply for an enrollment or join a waitlist (depending on the occupancy level of the centre).
Ideally the team in the centre have done such an amazing job during the tour that parents are fighting for a spot. Other times, parents are looking at other centres or might not be quite ready to make a decision.
That’s when our Excite strategies come into play to nurture the relationship and get parents ready to make a commitment, these include:

  • A Tour Follow Up email asking for feedback
  • An enrolment maximisation email nurture series
  • Using Facebook Ads to Remarket to custom audience of parents who are in ActiveCampaign’s ‘Tour Attended’ deal stage

Meaningful metrics for this stage:

  • Open Rates and Click Through Rates % on tour follow up & enrolment maximisation emails
  • Click Through Rate % on Enrol Now Facebook Remarketing Ads
  • Monthly enrolments tracked to Excite campaigns

How ActiveCampaign helps automate the Excite stage

Nurture automation
Our induction email series is designed to educate parents on the benefits of enrolling their children in our clients’ centres. The goal of this sequence is to have parents ‘know’, ‘like’, ‘trust’ and ‘commit’ to enrolling with our clients.
introduction email series
We personalise this for parents based on whether they have attended a tour. If they have attended, we tag the parent ‘Tour Attended’ then we can optionally show content in our email creative. This makes sure we are prompting them to the most logical call to action for their stage in the sales process.
Tour attended deal stage
Once a parent has attended a tour, we make it super easy for centre directors to move them down the sales pipeline. All they need to do is move them to the stage ‘Tour Attended’ to trigger automated follow up (and trust building).
tour attended automation
Then we send a follow up that does a couple of important things, 1) it asks for the parents’ feedback, and 2) it conditions parents that we’re going to continually ask for feedback to improve. This builds trust, helps parents feel like their voice will be heard, and finally, makes it e