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Again I am speaking on an AdAge article recently released that states that the CMO that will survive in today’s world must be able to own the customer journey.  Today I am discussing how to go about creating customer journey strategies.

They suggest a four-fold approach.

  1. Do you know your customers?  I recently wrote about how B2B businesses can go about knowing their customers in my article How To Create B2B Buyer Personas.
  2. Do you know where they are at in their journey? I recently wrote about being able to identify all the potential customer touch points that they may have.
  3. Do you have a strategy to move customers along in their journey?  Today I’m looking at what the journey may look like to customers, so that you can go about creating content and strategy for a more personalized approach.
  4. Are you able to measure the business impact?  The goal here is to be able to see in your data not only how many people are in what stage of their journey, but whether the strategy you’ve employed has moved anyone from the stage that they are into the next stage.

The customer journey to purchase is almost always the same, and follows the below four-step process.

  • Awareness – Content marketing, blogging, press releases, events, product placement, tradeshows and other activities can make a customer aware that you exist in your product category.
    • You can monitor discussions taking place online in the pre-purchase stage, where a person is not aware of your solution, thus helping you to focus on delivering early-stage information that educates customers and where this information should live.
  • Advice – Comparison shopping, looking at online reviews and talking to family/friends.
    • Monitor discussions taking place online in the stage where a person is aware of your and your competitors’ solutions, thus helping you to focus on delivering mid-stage information that educates customers on product specifics and comparative advantages, and where this information should live.
  • Purchase – Online order/delivery and in-store purchase.
    • Monitor conversations around ordering and use experience, such as your Facebook wall and customer service call-in line/emails, to be aware of problem areas that can be corrected, or whether you are doing well in delivering an easy purchase experience.
  • Experience – Use, review and recommendation.
    • If you are finding that more people are talking about the product category then usage experience, you can focus on generating more conversation around the actual purchase and experience of your products.
    • If the product category isn’t that exciting and new, so that there is more discussion around the usage experience than anything else, you can try to uncover ways to make your products seem exciting.

The main goal of a customer journey strategy is not only to get to know your customers on a human level, but to understand what they’re feeling and experiencing when they’re visiting your website.  So once you’ve identified your buyer personas, and touchpoints that a customer can have with you from awareness to purchase – using survey research, Google Analytics, and internal discussion with customer-facing teams – you can analyze what they want and need from each interaction as they move through the journey. How do they transition from one stage (such as awareness) to another (such as learning)? Communicate the buyer’s expectations at each step–and how well you are (or aren’t) meeting them.

Next identify whether at each stage someone might be thinking and experiencing, such as happy, neutral or negative emotions.  At certain “make or break” times where a potential customer may fall into a negative emotion, you can then focus in on providing value to help deliver a positive experience that will bring the customer back again and again.  In fact, you must be delivering value – as the customer defines it not you – at each step of the journey.  Value may be:

  1. Problems the product solves.
  2. Free and paid services that you provide.
  3. Information that helps the buyer make informed decisions.
  4. Access to exclusive experts, customers, events, content and other resources that are not available to the public and help the customer address their issues.
  5. Happy employees that feel valued, enabled and set up for success, who go the extra mile to help customers.
  6. Experiential marketing to create a closer bond with consumers by immersing them in fun and memorable experiences.
  7. Communities that provide a forum for discussion and create an opportunity to gather user-generated content for use outside of the community.
  8. Providing an app to make shopping quicker and more convenient for busy customers.
  9. Holding customer workshops/focus groups to gain customer feedback prior to rolling out new business opportunities.
  10. Merging customers’ offline and online worlds.
  11. Rewarding customers on a continual and personalized basis.

What strategies are you using to engage customers along the customer journey?  Let me know in the comments at bottom of the page.

The companies that will succeed are the ones that are constantly working with their customers’ inputs. Contact us to talk about how we can help using marketing automation. We’re flexible to work with you wherever you are at in creating an inbound program.