The title of this blog is a very literal question I was asked about a fortnight ago by a client. I had purchased something online from a company and was telling her about my experience. It was amazing. They had an engaging, compelling, helpful website, their purchase portal was easy, the order tracking was convenient, the after-purchase support was amazing. When I joked that “if only every online business had created a buyer journey this seamless” the lovely business owner looked absolutely confused and asked, “What the heck is a buyer journey and how do I create a great one?”
So, my lovely friends, get your brain into gear because you’re about to get a very important, 8 minute marketing lesson!
WHAT IS A BUYER JOURNEY?
‘Customer journey’ of ‘Buyer Journey’ is a reasonably in-vogue business term being thrown around a lot these days. In simple terms, it means the customer experience your customers have when interacting with your brand right from the initial knowledge that you exist, to after they have made a transaction. It is the process that moves us as consumers from being uninformed about a brand to being a loyal customer.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
The difference between a bad customer journey and a great one can have HUGE impacts on your bottom line. Think about it… How often do you plan on purchasing something and when faced with a decision of which brand to buy from, you choose the easier, simpler one? If you’re like me, probably a lot! And that is one of the big things that has driven buyer journeys in today’s world… convenience. Most businesses now compete on customer journey, so if yours isn’t up to scratch, it’s time to fix it.
HOW CAN I CREATE A GREAT ONE?
I’d like you to go back and think about my marketing plan formula… If you didn’t read it (promise I won’t take offense!) then you might want to by clicking here. Those stages mentioned in my marketing plan formula can be repositioned into a sales funnel and essentially that is the first step to creating a great customer journey.
Let me show you…
Each stage of this funnel is smaller than the last and fewer people move down these stages of the pipeline. That is just the nature of marketing and sales. When you have a great customer journey, people are more likely to transition to the next stage.
Each stage needs to provide a certain type of value to the customer experience to keep people moving along the pipeline. Here’s what to include eat each stage when designing your customer journey…
I am going to use some examples from my previously mentioned AMAZING experience so you understand.
AWARENESS [Customer Journey Stage: Connect]
At this stage, the best thing your brand can do to encourage further interactions is convey a compelling why that a potential customer might feel attached to on an intrinsic level. If you can connect with someone in this way, you automatically create a positive brand affinity and straight away your brand has a supporter.
Things you can do:
- Be clear about the solution you provide a problem your customer has.
- Showcase deep understanding for your customers’ position.
- Convey your commitment to improving the life of your customers.
- Ensure your messaging reflects your brand and your purpose but also aligns with what your customers really want to hear.
- Ensure your website and marketing channels convey this message well. Professional copywriters can do wonders in making sure your message is on-brand, high impact and well-received. Create a brand that people want to work with.
My experience: The brand I recently purchased from has been a favourite of mine for a long time. I initially fell in love with the clothing from this company because their ethos was about being a free spirit, being wild, daring, creative and walking to the beat of your own drum. These are all things I love to feel – it’s sort of empowering. So, I have always loved this brand. This connection to their big ‘why’ is how I fell down their pipeline.
INTEREST & DESIRE [Customer Journey Stage: Engage and Invest]
At this stage, you have to give potential customers value before they even buy from you. They already like your brand and ethos, so engage with them by making them feel like they are cared for. Use technology to leverage data and provide a personalised experience. Try to preempt the problems they have and provide solutions before they even know they need it.
Things you can do…
- Remarket using social media advertising with highly personalised ads.
- Ask newsletter subscribers to pick the interest areas most relevant to them and serve them this content only.
- Use personalisation in your communications and encourage two-way interaction so they feel valued.
- Give away everything (including the kitchen sink) in a way that compliments your services or products so people start to understand the value you can provide.
- Make it easy for potential customers to hear from you across your marketing channels, ensure your website is well designed and your social media profiles complement one another.
My experience: I have actually purchased from this brand before, however I haven’t in about two years (very expensive… Husband would be cranky if purchases were too frequent). I receive their newsletters and they used their geo-filtering to send me a personalised email saying, “We know you’re getting ready for Summer in the Northern hemisphere, why not celebrate the warm weather with a new look?” with some of their new-in stock and their sale stock. This put the products right in front of me and make me *feel* like they knew me – obviously if I’m going to buy a new dress it would be from this company!
ACTION [Customer Journey Stage: Compel and Sell]
This is where you make it easy and simple for customers to buy from you. Give them everything they need in an easy, no-fuss, simple way with a straight-forward process. Regardless of whether or not you are in professional services or a product sales business, make buying from you easy. Give the right support, the right education about your products or services and make sure your pricing is appropriate.
Things you can do…
- Give enough information about the product or services to your customers before they decide to buy.
- Ensure your pricing is appropriate for the market.
- Provide complementary support such as product or service selection tools.
- Ensure your payment portal or contracting and on-boarding process is simple for the customer.
- If you are a service business, ensure your on-boarding process reflects your brand and the nature of the working relationship – include extra value if possible here.
My experience: When I decided that yes, I was going to buy a new dress from this brand I jumped online and found one I love. I used their feature that allowed you to choose the type of outfit you were looking for. Think; beachwear, occasion wear, dressing up, dressing down. When I looked at the one I love, I referred to the sizing guide that was clear and straightforward. Easy, simple, the payment gateway was great and the tracking information came through the next business day!
SATISFACTION [Customer Journey Stage: Follow Up and Support]
Now, a customer journey can end at Action… But a great one will go further. This is what I like to call customer “aftercare”. Think about it as the first step to making them come back again. What can you provide the customer with to make their purchase more enjoyable? What complementary services or products could you recommend to them? How can you encourage two-way dialogue to ensure they feel valued again – even after they’ve made a purchase?
Things you can do include…
Ask for customer feedback but position your questions around the next engagement… i.e. “next time we work together, what would you like us to do the same and what would you like us to do differently?”
- Provide additional product recommendations.
- Provide a guide for product use.
- Provide a free complementary service or value add (like a checklist or similar).
- Send them a personalised thank you message after their products or services have been delivered or executed.
Customer Experience: The day after I received my purchase, I also received an email saying thank you for buying with a free style guide with wearing examples and styling attached. Even though this was simple, it was INCREDIBLY valuable and there was an invite to reply and provide feedback to the customer service email address.
When you sum all of that up (PS.. to anyone that is still reading, thank you!) customer journeys are really the little things you do to make your customers a little bit happier, make their life a little bit easier and make them feel a little bit better about buying from your brand. The more of these little things you do, the more likely you are to convert them into customers. Any good marketing plan should address these stages!
Now go forth and enhance your customer journeys, friends!