It’s hard to grow a business. There are just so many different things that can be done to increase awareness, engage customers or even shoot up sales.
The trouble is deciding what to do. With so many tools to promote our company, which one is the best one to use? Which one will be more effective?
Answering this question may sound daunting, but it’s not actually that hard at all. On the contrary, in this post, we’re going to take a look to see how you can do wonders for your brand by leveraging the secret power of the customer journey.
By leveraging the customer journey, and planning a touchpoint-based strategy you can both: acquire new customers, and retain existing ones. That’s a double win for you and your company’s revenue.
Want to learn more? In this post, we’re going to tell you all about it. Here’s a quick index to help you navigate our content.
- What is a Customer Journey a Why It Matters
- How to Develop a Customer Journey Map for Your Business
- How to Use the Customer Journey Map to Increase Sales
- How to Use the Customer Journey Map to Increase Retention
1. What is a Customer Journey a Why It Matters
The customer journey is a very useful visual tool that helps us ‘see’ a customer’s journey.
A customer’s journey is a framework that allows us to see how customers search and find relevant information that helps them make up their minds about the products and services they need to purchase in order to address their daily needs.
The customer journey is comprised of 5 stages:
- Awareness. In this stage, customers are finding out about your brand or company for the first time.
How to Succeed at this Stage: Given that many companies compete for your customer’s time and attention, getting awareness can be costly if a brand is only spending money on advertising. What many brands decide to do is to utilize a content marketing strategy to create entertaining, informative, or helpful content that attracts their desired customer to their website or retail store.
- Consideration. In this stage, customers are moving past the simple awareness of the existence of your brand and are shortlisting your product as a possible solution to their needs.
How to Succeed at this Stage: In this stage, a very effective approach to convincing your customer of the benefits of your brand is connected to knowing how to leverage your social media presence. Social media platforms are in fact seen as spaces where people are sharing their honest and unbiased opinion on products they’ve bought or services they’ve received. For this reason, social support proves very convincing to newly acquired customers.
- Purchase. In this stage, customers have made up their minds and are going in for the purchase. The purchase stage is also called the “Moment of Truth” this is in fact where the brand’s communication is put to the test: if the customer is persuaded of the quality and use of the product then, a transaction will happen, otherwise, the acquisition cost to ‘win’ the customer will be lost.
How to Succeed at this Stage: What matters at this stage is making sure you’re providing a smooth, frictionless experience, where you are reinforcing all of the post-purchase services you’ll be providing, to make sure that customers can feel lighthearted about their decision to buy.
A lot of people think that the purchase stage is where the customer journey ends, but they could not be more wrong, in fact, two more stages have to be considered to fully take advantage of your newly acquired customer.
- Retention. In this stage, customers are actually experiencing your product or service. This is what we call the “Second Moment of Truth”. In this stage, the product or service itself needs to provide proof of its qualities, regardless of what the communication strategy said about it to make it look appealing to potential customers.
How to Succeed at this Stage: At this stage, a company needs to build great products or deliver exceptional services. If the company succeeds it will be able to tap into customers’ lifetime value.
- Advocacy. If a brand is able to get customers all the way to the advocacy stage, then it means it is succeeding. In the advocacy stage, customers are so excited about the experience they had with your brand that they simply can’t stop talking about it. As a result, your delighted and loyal customers will spread the word and contribute to creating new awareness. This will in turn restart the cycle.
How to Succeed at this Stage: Ideally your business needs to provide meaningful and memorable experiences to its customers. There is a lot that can be done in order to increase the chances of a referral, and we address the topic in detail in this post: 6 Business Actions to Make Your Word of Mouth Marketing Skyrocket.
Great! Now that we’ve learned the foundations of this framework, let’s make it actionable and see what can be done to use it to achieve your goals.
2. How to Develop a Customer Journey Map for Your Business
First of all, you need to make this model your own. You need to give yourself time to think about what types of needs your customer has and how these needs lead him to your business. It’s important to consider that in fact there are three types of customer journeys and the first decision is to acknowledge which of these three better represents your business:
- Fully physical customer journey. In this case, the customer will move into a physical space to collect information, recommendations, and advice. It’s less common to have a physical customer journey as most products are sold, or at least discussed online, however, there can be exceptions like antiquities or rare objects.
- Blended physical and digital journey. In this case, the customer blends both digital and physical experiences. This is a very common journey format, and is relevant in many sectors, from real estate to fashion (when we are not sure what size to buy). In this latter case, in fact, a store’s distribution strategy takes into account how customers may need a mixed distribution approach, leveraging both physical and digital distribution. These needs are what inspired the development of an omnichannel distribution approach. If you’d like to read more on fashion distribution we’ve got the right resource for you here.
- Fully digital customer journey. In this case, the customer is conducting all of the research and data collection online. In this case, your web presence is able to make or break your business. In this case, the management of your online presence is essential, and building content mimics the steps your customer will go through in order to purchase your product. In this regard we discuss this in further detail in a post focused on the development of your web presence. If you’d like to look into this, here’s the link.
This is a simple input to help you get started with planning the journey. Following the image at the top of the post, it is a good idea to look into what communication strategies create the right mix for your customer. It’s not necessary to invest in every possible touchpoint but identify at least one per stage that can reliably drive profitable customer interactions.
The next step is to then look at some fine-tuning, based on your specific business goals. Do you want to increase sales? Do you need to retain more customers? Look ahead to explore our advice!
3. How to Use the Customer Journey Map to Increase Sales
What to do to plan and tweak your customer journey to increase sales? In this case, there are a few tips to consider.
- Develop a content strategy. If you want to increase purchases start working on the customer journey from the purchase stage and move backward. There is absolutely no point in increasing the awareness of customer journey that does not work as it should.
- In order to increase purchases, in the awareness stage create a broad content marketing approach that simply increases the number of customers going through the funnel. Building free content is a long-term strategy that despite requiring effort, allows you to escape the high bidding cost of search and display ads.
- Work on Your Points of Parity and Points of Difference. The journey step that provides the most influence on the customer is the consideration stage. At this level, customers are interested in understanding what makes your product different, what makes it stand out. To successfully engage them, make sure you’re clearly communicating both your points of parity and your points of difference. Your points of parity are those elements that make your company compete at the same level as the rest of the competition, by providing all the services and benefits the customer has learned to expect. At the same time, however, make sure you are emphasizing what makes you different, and tailoring your communication to those customers who will benefit from your specific value proposition.
- Online Reputation Control. Last but not least, make sure you’re keeping your online and offline reputation in control. Sometimes it takes just one bad review to make a customer lose confidence. Social media in this sense is a double-edged sword, and it’s relevant that your regularly tracking what people are saying about you. It’s not the end of the world if you are getting a bad review, but make sure you do address the matter and suggest a viable solution to your customer’s issue.
Great, let’s now focus on something even harder, increasing retention. We’ll look into this in the next paragraph.
4. How to Use the Customer Journey Map to Increase Retention
As we say in business: it’s cheaper to retain a client than to acquire a new one. This is why retention is such an essential step to building a successful business. If your business is not able to grow a reliable flow of regular customers, your marketing spending will be through the roof. This is why building a plan to retain customers is an essential component of your journey map. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
- Make it easy to share positive experiences. Good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster. This is why you need to put effort into making it simple for your customer to share their positive experiences. Pinpoint some moments in your customer’s use of the product, or experience of the service that is going to find them in a good mood and willing to share their joy. Some companies go as far as offering discounts for social sharing, but that does not fit any business.
- Make your customers the hero. If you find out by chance that some of your customers used your products and services to achieve something remarkable, don’t hesitate to use these stories to build customer heroes. This is a strong opportunity to emphasize how far your products and services can go and will benefit you in two ways. First customer heroes will attract new customers, but secondly, they will inspire pride and belonging to your established customers.
That’s it, we hope that these tips can help you navigate the challenges of competitive markets. Let’s now move on to drawing a few conclusions.
In this post, we’ve analyzed the benefits of plotting out your customer journey and making sure that your vision of how your business communicates with your customers is fully comprehensive.
Visual tools like the customer journey map help businesses break down complex problems into more manageable ones and understand what variables to act upon in order to impact your revenue.
In this post, we’ve listed some of our advice when it comes to influencing your customer’s journey and driving more customers, more engagement, and more short and long-term profit to your business. If you’re interested in learning more, please look below and find other resources from our blog. Enjoy!