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What is the Customer Journey?
What is the difference between marketing that succeeds at its goals and one that fails? What makes a customer choose one business over another?
The difference is that an effective marketing strategy considers not only the customer right now but their entire customer journey.
When someone lands on your website you need to know where are they in the buying process? How can you meet them where they are so that they are primed and more ready to buy.
If you take some time to consider where they are coming from and where they’re going next, you can create the right content inline with the customer journey to make your website a successful sales tool.
But let’s back up.
What is the Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the entire lifecycle of the customer in relation to your brand. It starts with right when they first find you – at awareness and ends with loyalty. You can also think of this as defining your sales process from start to finish.
At each stage, the customer has different needs and expectations. You can create content that meets the customer’s needs and expectations at the moment they come to your website, your Google listing, your social media, or anywhere else they find you.
Mapping the Customer Journey
Content creation for this purpose starts with mapping the customer journey and identifying each of the touchpoints.
These touchpoints, where you have contact with your audience, are specific milestones along the way. These are the steps the person takes to go from basic initial awareness to becoming a buyer and fan of your brand.
So what are “touchpoints?”
Touchpoints might be things like hearing about your business from a friend or seeing an advertisement.
Another example would be checking your website to look for specific information on your topic.
The content you offer to someone who has just heard about you from a friend and sends you an email versus a reader looking for specific help should be different.
You need to map out each of these ways that new customers may find you so you can walk them through the journey.
The Stages of the Customer Journey
Each journey is different, but typical stages include:
Awareness: where they’re just learning about the existence of your brand.
Consideration: where the person is checking out other businesses or in research mode.
Conversion: where they take action. This can be signing up for an email list or buying a product.
But the journey doesn’t end there.
After purchase, you still need to keep the person coming back for more.
The next stages here might include retention and brand advocacy.
Another thing to consider is the length of the journey. It differs depending on your business. For example, members of one market might hear about a brand, check out your website, and then they’re ready to buy and become a loyal follower.
In other markets, people might spend a great deal of time before they take action. This is especially true if your services and products are expensive, high commitment, or personal.
For most audiences, it takes several touchpoints with a brand before they buy, so be sure to consider how you can increase touchpoints with potential customers. Email automation and ad retargeting are helpful tools to boost touches.
The Right Content at the Right Time
Mapping the customer journey allows you to understand your target audience even better and allows you to say the right things and present the right content at the right time.
In order to map their journey accurately, you need to understand not just who your potential customers are but also how they go about finding information and buying products.
- Do they go on Google and research?
- What terms do they search for?
- What information do they need before they act?
- How much social proof is required for them to trust you?
The best way to get started is to write out the steps your current customer journey and and begin to define your sales process.
Think of several common ways that customers begin the awareness stage, like a google search, a referral, and seeing an ad or post on social media. Map out each step, guiding them to the next step and then the next step.
Let’s use my example looking to fix my shoulder.
- I googled chiropractor for shoulder pain.
- I looked at the google reviews for different chiropractors.
- I went to the websites with the highest reviews.
- Most didn’t offer info on shoulder pain, but only wanted to force book an appointment – I couldn’t even get more information.
- I found one that mentioned shoulder pain. They talked about how it happens, how to fix it, and said they have chiro, massage and other therapies there that helped shoulder pain.
- I could book a free consultation appointment and they would build me a plan to help my shoulder pain.
My customer journey included:
- A google search
- A need to high reviews
- Info on my injury – proof you can help me
- A free consult
- Options on my treatment
What does your customer journey look like?
There is probably more than one, so begin to map it out.
Take information from your customers and their behavior and identify the beginning, end, and touchpoints along the way. And remember, you are the guide, getting them from one point to the next. So don’t just leave them hanging.
Email is a way you can continue the customer journey, especially if your customers are researching and still making a decision. Check out this video next where we explain how to use email in your customer journey.
We talk extensively about the customer journey and defining your sales process in the Smart Arsenal; in fact, Sales Process is the S in our Smart framework. If you want to really dive in and get your customer journey mapped, your marketing message perfected and get your marketing processes set up so you can turn on the traffic and get leads and sales on autopilot, check out the Smart Arsenal.
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About Digital Marketing Expert Torie Mathis
Torie Mathis helps entrepreneurs, like you, use digital marketing to grow your business without wasting time, money, or your sanity. She is a best-selling author, Army veteran, speaker + trainer, and your digital marketing coach. You don't need crazy tech skills, buckets of cash, or dedicated staff to market your business. In fact, you don't even need a lot of time. What you need is to be SMART.
Torie hosts SMART AF, a show for non-techy entrepreneurs looking to grow their business, with her husband Sean and is the creator of SMART AF Magazine. Learn from Torie at the Smart Arsenal and on her channel.
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