It’s not always an easy thing for businesses to get inside the minds of their customers. Even if a company believes it has figured out all of its target audience’s wants and needs, there are going to be new trends, preferences, or technologies that emerge which change up those wants and needs. To figure out why consumers are taking a long—or even a short—time browsing through products before they make a purchase or leave the website, companies should understand the customer journey.
The customer journey is the process where a customer interacts with a company to achieve a goal—make a purchase. These days, consumers tend to interact with many brands in ways that aren’t easy to narrow down. Some consumers might gain brand awareness through social media, while others might learn about the same brand through word-of-mouth marketing.
There are plenty of steps that can lead consumers to the ultimate goal of making a purchase, and those steps can differ for different customers. This journey isn’t something that companies can predict or assume based on their own perspectives, because the customer journey is specific to the experiences that each customer has. That’s why one of the best ways for companies to understand the customer journey is to simply ask the customers about it.
The customer journey should be a visual representation of all the steps a customer goes through to make a purchase from a company. However, that’s not always the goal for each company. For some businesses, the goal can be to get the customers to join a loyalty program, while for others it might be to sign customers up for an email newsletter. No matter that goal, every company needs to map out their customers’ journey to get a better understanding of what motivates the customers to achieve the company’s desired goals.
The first step in mapping out a customers’ journey is to define the company’s objectives: the goals it wants to achieve with the customer journey map. Most of the time, once a company defines its objectives, it moves to create a buyer persona, which is a fictitious customer with their own psychographics and demographics that represent an average customer. Having this type of persona is helpful in staying on topic and creating a customer journey that leads consumers toward the end goal.
Buyer personas and goals
As Miami based entrepreneur Marc Roberts has noted, “Audience research is the best way that companies can learn more about their markets in order to create buyer personas. People that are already interested in making a purchase, or who have already made a purchase, are the best people to learn from. Companies can send out surveys or look through customer feedback to learn more about their buyers. Companies need to learn more information regarding how their customers learn about them, what attracted them to their businesses, the amount of time they spend on their websites, what made them decide to make a purchase, and more.”
Everywhere on a company’s website that customers can interact with the business is considered a touchpoint. Based on the company’s research, it should list all of the different touchpoints that the customers are currently using, as well as any others that the business thinks they should be using. Other touchpoints include email marketing and social media efforts, paid ads, as well as third-party review websites.
Finally, the company has to list every action consumers perform when interacting with their business. Anything from searching on Google using relevant keywords to opening a link inside an email is considered a customer action. Then, it’s important to reduce the number of steps, as that leads to higher conversion rates for the business. After everything has been defined, it’s important for the business to go through the map and analyze it frequently, and to update and upgrade it and optimize it for the consumers’ experience.