We’ve posted several journal articles recently about customers. We took a deeper dive on the emotional journey of the target audience, the paradox of choice, and micro & macro conversion. (You can find all these articles and others here.) I’d like to take the opportunity to ensure that we’ve properly laid the foundation for all this: the customer journey.
We talk about travel a lot around here. It’s one of mine and Leigh’s favorite things. Not touching on the foundation of the customer journey is like not considering transportation when traveling. It’s a necessity! You have to use some type of transport when traveling: airplane, car, bike, a rickety raft, etc. Customers are a crucial piece of business, and is how and why a business exists and succeeds. So understanding the customer journey and the role it plays in your business is critical.
So let’s get to it!
What is the customer journey?
The customer journey is the path a business’s customers walk from initially learning about a business to making a purchase and then turning into a loyal customer. It can be broken down into specific steps: awareness, consideration, intent, decision, and loyalty. These steps can slightly differ depending on the industry that you’re in, but this will at least give you a starting point for deciding what the appropriate steps are for you and your customers.
In the awareness step, a potential customer becomes aware of your brand through various marketing channels like social media, podcast, advertising, networking or referral.
In the consideration step, the potential customer starts to research and compare your products or services with those of your competitors. They may read reviews, visit your website, or engage with your brand on social media. They may sign up for your email or attend a training you offer. Here you are building trust as an expert in your field.
Next is the intent step. You have built trust as an expert in your field, and the customer can see how your business’s product or service will meet their (related) need or want. They’re choosing if they want to make the purchase. Depending on your business model, if you are selling a product the customer likely already have access to make the purchase. If you’re selling a service, this is when you make the offer, and this is especially important with high ticket items.
Finally, in the decision step, the potential customer makes a purchase or chooses not to purchase from your brand. This is also known as the macro-conversion step. Ideally, you’ve built trust with the customer so when you make the offer or there is a sales opportunity, the customer sees your product or service as the answer they need or want and they make a purchase. The customer chooses to buy because the value of the service or product, and how it will meet their need or want is greater than perceived fear or risk.
Sometimes the fifth step is left out of the customer journey, but we think this step is essential for continued success. In the loyalty stage, a customer not only continues to make purchases from your brand, but also is an advocate for your business, and send you referrals. Yay for having customers who cheer you on!
What does this look like?
Visualization really helps me understand especially when talking about different steps. Here is the flow and how the steps build on one another another.
Why is it important for business?
Understanding the customer journey is essential for businesses because it allows them to tailor their marketing strategies and improve their overall customer experience. By knowing where potential customers are in their journey, businesses can accurately plan their marketing efforts and provide relevant information that will guide potential customers towards a conversion (ie making a purchase). Communication with potential customers can be more personalized, which will lead to stronger relationships with customers and increased brand loyalty.
Understanding the customer journey helps businesses identify any pain points or areas for improvement that may be hindering the customer’s decision-making process. If you notice customers are engaging all through the journey but not making the decision to purchase, you can make adjustments to earlier steps in how you’re showing value, building trust, and positioning your business as an expert. By addressing these issues, businesses can increase conversion rates and retain loyal customers, and also provide a smoother and more enjoyable customer experience. Read our article about aligning your content to your customer’s needs.
Another benefit to understanding the customer journey is businesses can tailor their marketing efforts towards potential customers who are more likely to convert. This leads to higher conversion rates and ultimately, increased sales. Also businesses that understand their customers’ journey have a competitive advantage over those that do not. They can provide a better overall experience for their customers, which can lead to positive referrals and a stronger reputation within the industry.
Questions to ask when considering the customer journey for your business:
How are potential customers currently becoming aware of my brand?
What steps do potential customers take before making a purchase?
Are there any pain points or areas of improvement in my sales process?
How can I tailor my marketing efforts to better target potential customers?
How can I improve the overall customer experience for my brand?
By understanding and constantly reviewing the customer journey, businesses can provide a seamless experience for their customers. You can start mapping out your customer journey today. Invest in improving their experience, and you will see the benefits in increased sales and brand loyalty.
Want help mapping your business’s customer journey and where there are opportunities for improvement? Schedule a call to chat with us! We’d love the opportunity to partner on Conversion Rate Optimization for your business.