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In the digital world, the process from the first contact to final sale is a lot different than it was in the past. When all we had were telephones, televisions, and newspapers at our disposal, there were fewer variables to consider on the path to conversion. All of the steps may have been the same, but the tools and "marketing funnel" were not.
Today, the ideal sales process includes a customer journey roadmap that’s designed to help guide a customer through each step and improve their overall experience along the way. No two customer journey roadmaps will be the same, and it’s important to tailor your roadmap to the needs, wants, and desires of your ideal customer.
When implemented effectively, a customer journey roadmap will show you exactly which steps to take for each step of the buying process to engage your prospective customers and build your brand at the same time. Here is an overview of each stage of the buyer’s journey and how you can create a roadmap to increase engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately conversions.
The Four Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
1) The Discovery Stage
In the discovery stage, prospective customers are just starting to gain an understanding of what your company and your brand are about. Typically, they are looking for a solution to a problem, an answer to a question or whatever type of product or service your business offers.
2) The Consideration Stage
Being aware of your brand as a potential solution to their problem or answer to their question is a great first step, now you need to convince them that your solution is the best one for them. It is in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey that your prospects will decide whether or not your product or service is the one they want, so it’s crucial to get it right.
3) The Purchase Stage
Now that you've convinced them your product or service is the one they need, it's time to make the purchase. But it's not always that simple. Customers still need to take the required action to make the purchase complete, and quite often that means some guidance or a little push in the right direction. There are some definite do's and don'ts when it comes to this part of the customer journey.
4) The Retention Stage
Congratulations, you made the sale! But the roadmap doesn't end here. Now's the time you really get to shine and show them why they should continue to do business with you in the future. There are dozens of tactics and techniques designed to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more, and that's what you need to focus on in this part of your roadmap.
Gathering existing data on your current customer base is an important first step when it comes to creating a memorable CX. In the Discovery Stage of the customer journey, having a solid buyer persona to work with will make the process a lot easier because you can craft any communication with that persona in mind. The persona should include information such as age, gender, language, job title, income, family details, hobbies, interests, and goals. Basically, you need to know whom you are speaking to in order to appeal to the right audience make the right fit.
1) Current Customer Info
Your current customer information may include surveys, email data, personas or other data that's been collected in the past that is still relevant to your potential prospects and current target audience. Once you work through the information, keep what is useful and file the rest away.
2) Website and Social Media
When you learn about the type of people who are attracted to your website and social media channels, it will give you a firm idea of who wants what you have to offer. Using analytics, you can also see where roadblocks exist when people are looking for information, and at what stage the majority of people are leaving the site. Demographic data pulled from your social media channels will let you know who is following and sharing what you put out on a regular basis.
3) Interviews with Frontline Employees
Employees who get face-to-face time with your customers will be able to provide you with valuable insights into their personalities and behaviours. You can also include customer support personnel who have access to customers on a daily basis. Set up a brief, 10- or 15-minute interview and ask what types of problems customers mention, what kinds of questions they ask, what feelings they've had as they look for a solution, and what they've been impressed with and happy about. Once you gather the answers, analyze them and look for any recurring patterns that will help with your roadmap.
Once you have gathered all of the data you need and formed a persona that's representative of the type of prospect you want to attract, you'll be in a good position for the Discovery portion of the buyer's journey. You will have a solid understanding of what it takes to solve your prospect's problems and can craft your content accordingly. That may include online ads in places your target audience spends time online, blog posts or social media posts that lead to targeted landing pages where you capture email addresses in exchange for a free gift, report, checklist, or similar item.
Mapping Out the Consideration Stage
When you reach the Consideration Stage of your customer journey roadmap, you need to know what is motivating them to find out more about your product or service. By this time, they know you offer a potential solution, but you need to know what type of message they need to hear to determine that yours is the right solution.
The reasons will vary depending on the type of problem they are looking to solve and the types of products and services you have available. Are they interested because you offer something unique that no one else has? Is it purely because of convenience? Will it make them feel significant? Are they saving a substantial amount of money? Once you determine the reason, you can craft your message to match their feelings and needs.
It's important that the process at this stage is not overly complicated. As an example, if you have their interest, and they like what you have to offer, but one step in the process causes them to have to leave your website or landing page, that could be enough to derail your progress. In this stage of the roadmap, they need to learn the benefits of doing business with you and have those benefits backed up by features that reinforce their wants and needs.
Entering the Purchase Stage
If your prospects are about to enter the purchase stage of the buyer journey, then the CX needs to be as smooth and hassle-free as possible. It is in this stage that many marketers end up losing the sale because they make the journey more complicated than it needs to be. Another issue is if you use different language or wording from one stage to the next; make sure your messaging is congruent and consistent.
It's important to keep in mind that at this point a consumer wants to give you their money. You have done your convincing, and they are motivated to give you a try. Things like free gifts or bonuses with the purchase, time limits to get special deals or satisfaction guarantees may be enough to nudge them to the finish line. If you notice that you have a lot of people abandoning the shopping cart at the checkout, then implementing one of these strategies should make a difference.
Many companies can attract customers and make a sale, but the real art and the real money is made when you keep them coming back again and again. Creating loyal customers is what the Retention Stage is about, and it must be included in your customer journey roadmap. You can’t just assume that the customer experience was wonderful because they made a purchase, and even if it was great, there is still work to be done if you want them to return.
Naturally, you need to do an excellent job with the initial purchase for a customer even to consider shopping with you again, but there is more to it. Most customer retention campaigns include email marketing, but if yours involves physical products being shipped, you can also add special offers with your initial delivery. Your email sequence should consist of a follow-up email asking how they liked the product or service and an offer for discounts, savings for referrals, or some other tactic to get the next sale.
You may want to show similar items people have purchased, let them join a contest, buy one get one free, or just offer a coupon to save on their next purchase. The idea is to add value and to make it so appealing that they find it almost impossible to say no.
The Perfect Customer Journey Roadmap
In the end, the perfect customer journey roadmap is about knowing your potential customer inside and out. Once you create your map with each one of the stages, ask what actions they will take at each stage to get to the next, what motivates them or discourages them from getting to the next stage, what questions they may have and which obstacles, if any, are in the way.
If you’d like to learn more about creating the perfect customer journey roadmap, get in touch with us at Digital Marketing Institute today.