Companies who understand what the customer journey is a focus on perfecting each stage within the journey are the ones who rise above their competitors. At the end of the day, your business is nothing without your customers so one of the most important factors of your business should be on dissecting and perfecting the customer experience from first interaction and onward.
67% of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally.
Surprisingly, many companies ignore the customer journey altogether which is a major blunder – especially when it comes to digital marketing efforts. Unless your company sells products or services that fall into the impulsive buying category, the customer journey should not be ignored, in fact it needs to be catered to and nurtured vigilantly.
Leads nurtured with targeted content produce an increase in sales opportunities of more than 20%.
So, what is the customer journey? In its simplest form, the customer journey is a snapshot of the entire customer experience starting from the customer’s first interaction with your company and brand and everything interaction thereafter.
The main stages of the customer journey are:
Delivering highly valuable and relevant during each stage of the customer journey has a direct impact on sales and revenue.
Before we get into what kind of content you should be serving to your customers at every step of their journey, let’s first define what happens in each stage. Your job is to understand each stage in the journey and deliver the right kind of content at the right time to your prospects.
76% of B2B buyers prefer to receive content unique to their buying stage.
Customer Journey Stage #1: Awareness
The first stage of the customer journey is Awareness where your potential customer is aware that they have a need or a problem and they are now researching information and actively seeking out answers to try and solve their problem or need. Think of the awareness stage of the customer journey as your first impression.
Related: What is a Marketing Funnel?
It’s vitally important to provide value to your prospects during this stage to build trust and rapport with them. None of the other stages of the customer journey matter if you are not delivering well in the Awareness stage. After all, how can customers buy from you if they don’t even know that you exist?
Almost 90% of study participants indicated it is important to influence buyers earlier in their journey.
81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying.
Your job during the Awareness Stage: Convey that you UNDERSTAND the prospect’s problem and provide information and resources that will help them to better navigate their problem or need.
Content to Deliver in the Awareness Stage:
- Industry Reports
- How-To Video
Since you know that your customer is looking for information during this stage, that’s exactly what you’ll want to provide for them in a digestible format that’s simple and very easy for them to find.
Customer Journey Stage #2: Evaluation & Consideration
The next stage in the customer journey is the consideration stage. By now, your prospects have done their initial research and are aware of some of the options they can choose from. However, the research phase isn’t over yet. They have narrowed down their options but they are still going to search for more information.
This is the stage where they are comparing your product or service to other solutions on the market. This is where they are doing price comparisons, reading customer reviews, checking out competitors, and learning more about the details of your product or service to see if it could be, in fact, what they have been looking for. Knowing that your customer will be comparing you to your competitors during this stage, it’s important for you to take a step back and ask yourself if you are positioned the way that you should be knowing that your customers will be comparing you to other options.
65% of consumers spend 16+ minutes comparison shopping before making a purchase.
Some great questions to ask:
- Is my product or service offering clear and understandable?
- Is my brand or company easy to find on the internet?
- Are the benefits of my product or service clear?
- Is the price point of my product or service competitive to similar offerings in the marketplace?
- What makes my product or service better than my competitors?
- Is my competitive advantage clearly stated where a customer can easily find it and understand it?
Often times it’s during the consideration stage that prospective buyers will reach out for more information by entering their information on through one of your forms, calling the number on your website, or engaging on your social media channels. If this is happening, do NOT leave them hanging.
This is your opportunity to step in a be the relief they are searching for to cure their current pain point. It is also during this stage that potential buyers are going to be very interested in pricing and what the monetary investment would be if they were to choose you as their solution. Many times your prospective buyers will need to run this information by other people before they make a decision.
Your job during the Consideration Stage: Prove to your customer that you care and that you are the best option for them and ensure that they have all of the information they need to move to the next stage in the customer journey.
Content to Deliver in the Consideration Stage:
- Product Webinar
- Case Study
- Data Sheet
- Demo Video
Customer Journey Stage #3: Decision
The third stage in the customer journey is the Decision Stage where your prospective customer is ready to select from their options and making a purchase. By now the potential buyer has done all the research they need to be well informed on which services will best fit their needs and which companies they believe will be the best fit. It’s at this stage of the customer journey when customer reviews are crucial.
97% say Customer Reviews influence their purchase decision.
Since buyers are beginning to rely on peer-to-peer reviews more now than ever before, not having any reviews for your product or service could potentially have a negative affect.
Showcasing case studies to your prospects at this stage is very beneficial and will answer the question on your prospective buyer’s mind which is “why should I choose you?” Social proof that your product or service does what you say it will do is imperative during the Decision stage. Solicit testimonials from previous customers and showcase them on your website and other places where prospects will be visiting to find out more information about you, your company, and brand.
Content to Deliver in the Decision Stage:
- Customer reviews
- Case Studies
- Free Trial
- Live Demo
Customer Journey Stage #4: Retention
The fourth stage of the customer journey is the Retention stage. Congratulations! If your customers have made it this far, then you’re definitely doing a lot of things right. But, it’s not over yet. In fact, this stage is arguably the most important stage in the overall customer journey. Why?
It’s far easier and roughly 5 times cheaper to retain an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one. It’s hard to build enough trust with a prospect to turn them into a first time buyer, so once you’ve gain their trust and their business, you should be working hard to maintain it. During this stage you should be following up with your client to get their feedback on the product or service that they purchased from you. You should be acknowledging their loyalty
Content to Deliver in the Retention Stage:
- Testimonial Requests
- Follow up Satisfaction Phone Calls
- How to’s on using your product or service
Customer Journey Stage #5: Advocacy
This is the last stage of the customer journey and the hardest to achieve. This is the stage of the customer journey is when the customer becomes an active advocate for your brand. They say great things about you and your company, they refer their friends and family to you, they generate the most powerful kind of marketing your company can ever have which is word-of-mouth. So, how do you get your customer to this stage?
The answer is by nurturing them every step of the way through the previous stages with value, attentiveness, and respect. Also, you must have a great product or service that does exactly what you promise that it will. One of the most powerful ways that you can encourage brand advocacy is by simply asking your customers to spread the word. I think you’ll be surprised.
When a person has a great experience with a product, service and company, they will want to spread the word and tell others about it. It’s human nature. Encourage this by asking them to tell their friends and let them know how much it will be appreciated by you and your business. Some of the most successful companies today are built on powerful referral and word of mouth marketing.