Do you remember your last big purchase? During the process on the way to the actual purchase, you probably took a particular route in order to ensure that you made the right decision. You don't take such a big decision on a whim. Sounding familiar?
Consumers go on a journey in order to effectively buy a product. This journey varies depending on the type of purchase and customer. It is therefore important to get to know your customer, map his/her route and make your presence felt with the appropriate message and relevant call-to-action over the various phases. This is referred to as the customer journey.
According to David Edelma from McKinsey, this customer journey can be divided into three general phases:
Phase 1: The consumer considers purchasing a product.
Phase 2: The consumer compares and evaluates products.
Phase 3: The consumer moves to buy the product.
But, how can you map this type of customer journey? And how relevant is this to your website or online marketing plan? We'll look at this in more depth.
What is a customer journey map?
In order to better understand the customer journey, you can set it out in the form of a customer journey map. This is a visual presentation of the various steps that a consumer takes in on his/her way to buying something.
In this video, Kerry Bodine, marketing consultant, explains what a customer journey map looks like and how you can draw them up.
When making a customer journey map, you can either keep it very general or go into detail by splitting it into specific buyer types or calibrated individuals. Different customers take different journeys, so it is important that you create a summary of your buyer types and their particular characteristics.
A customer journey map visualises the opportunities for improving the customer experience. It also opens up an opportunity to discover new target groups. Target groups that you had perhaps overlooked for this analysis or that you had perhaps not taken into account.
How do I define my customer types and map the customer journey?
First and foremost, you need to know who your customers are. To whom are we selling products or services and what added value are we creating for them? Every consumer is different. Everyone has their own method of decision-making. You have consumers who take the time to evaluate products, who value the opinions of others and who make a well-considered decision. Other consumers are less rational in their decision-making and work on the basis of emotions. We also have consumers in different life-stages: graduates, a young couple, a family with children, a single person... It is important to identify these potential buyers and create relevant types.
Once you know your customer, you can figure out the pertinent questions for each phase of the journey according to what type of information is being sought and what actions will be taken. Methods that could help in this context are search word studies, website details from Google Analytics, questions that come in via email, questions that are asked in your showroom or at trade fairs, surveys, etc. It is also important to check where the consumer is sourcing their information. On a digital level, this could involve search engines, social media, blogs, comparison websites and so on.
During the significant moments of the journey, people clearly demonstrate their intentions. These are the most important moments for marketing experts; they must have a presence with relevant content on the right channels.
How can the customer journey be used for my website?
The customer journey can often be regarded as a process whereby the consumer moves from a great deal of general information to increasingly concrete data. On websites, it is important that you retain this structure and that the layout relates back to the consumer's various phases. During every phase, your customer wants to be able to find relevant information and it is up to you to make it easy for him/her to take appropriate actions that assist the search. So create pages containing information that is relevant for each phase. Make sure that you cover the consumer's questions with the appropriate pages. An effective key word study is important when defining relevant content on the different pages. In the article “SEO-tips: Optimise for your visitors” you can read more on this subject.
On every page, provide a relevant call-to-action that will help the consumer take the next step. A website should not be a puzzle; it should be clear to the visitor how to move from point A to point B. None of the pages should lead to a dead-end.
During the first phase of the journey, for example, you can focus on information rather than publicising the 'request a quote' facility. You want to encourage the customer to request a brochure or sign up for the newsletter in order to learn more about your brand and quality. In the subsequent phase, you want to invite the customer to come and see the products 'in the flesh', in your store or showroom, or refer them onto a product detail page on your site. Finally, when the customer has revealed their intention to buy, you want to enable him/her to request a quote or place an order. In this article about neuro-marketing , you can learn how to capitalise effectively on customer needs.
Are you working on developing a new website? Read the article “A new website, what are my focus areas?”. Once your website is ready to go, you can move onto the next phase.
Ok, the website's up and running. Now you can engage the appropriate channels for your online marketing strategy.
Now that you've adapted your website, you can use it as the basis for your online marketing strategies and campaigns. Once you have figured out the right channels, which the consumer will use during the purchasing process, you can promote the relevant landing pages and the appropriate channels.
This is all about providing an accurate message at the right moment and during the various phases of the purchasing process. On a digital level, this could involve search engines, video channels, emailing, blogs, social media, etc. You can also increase awareness via banner campaigns targeted at the relevant audience. Good SEO optimisation in relation to landing pages will ensure that you are found in consumer searches during the various phases. An advertising text for Adwords campaigns can be harmonised with consumer questions and then refer the consumer onto an adapted landing page. An interesting model that could help you here is the See, Think, Do & Care model from Google. This model centralises the customer and demonstrates the importance of reconciling your communication with the customer's phase.
You can elaborate customer journey maps even further by using them as the basis for setting up lead nurturing campaigns that will excite and encourage your customer throughout the process and help determine, via lead scoring, when he/she is ready to make a purchase.
But first things first. Set out a customer journey map first and then develop a phased route during which you initially overhaul your website and then harmonise your campaigns phase by phase.
If you need help linking your website and online marketing campaign along your customer's journey, feel free to get in touch to discuss the options.