The Customer Journey

Wouldn’t it be great if customers simply decided that they needed your products or services, found your website, and purchased on the spot? That speedy process may be the dream, but as most businesses know, things don’t usually happen quite so quickly. The reality of converting people into customers typically has a much longer timeline. The customer journey—from brand awareness to an initial purchase to a lifelong customer—is complex, and for long-term success, there are no shortcuts along the way. Mapping your customer journey is critical to achieving the best results as you grow your brand. Here is what you need to know about the customer journey and why it matters for long-term success.

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey refers to every interaction that a customer has with your brand. This journey is far from linear in today’s digital marketplace. Customers can encounter your brand in multiple formats, across multiple platforms. There is also near-constant interference from other brands that are encountered on the journey, which can impact the speed of the customer journey as well as the impression that customers have about your brand along the way.

Consider all the ways that customers may come across your brand online. They may learn about your business while reading a branded blog post. They may see your brand on social media, either through following you or by seeing another user talk about you. They may also find you by searching for your products or services on the web. Each of these encounters are part of the customer journey with your brand.

How do I manage the customer journey?

The most effective way of managing the customer journey is to create a customer map. The map helps you understand how customers interact with your brand and how and when they transition from learning about your business to becoming a customer. When you create a customer map, you get a visual representation of how customers move through the sales funnel, that you can then apply to your digital marketing strategy.

Having a customer journey map is critical to your marketing success for many reasons. Though customers may have interactions with your business offline, the vast majority of the interactions will take place in the digital space. Focusing on those online interactions is much easier when you have a picture of the overall journey. Additionally, a map lets you see which digital platforms and types of content are most effective for your customers, so you can direct your resources more efficiently.

Today’s customers don’t simply look at the features of products and services anymore. They want to have a vision of a brand as a whole and understand how the brand aligns with their needs and lifestyles. Mapping the customer journey lets you create the most efficient strategies possible for telling your story to customers.

How are customer journey maps created?

Because customer journey maps won’t look the same from brand-to-brand, it’s important to take stock of your brand identity, your current customer profiles, and the cohesiveness of your existing messaging to ensure you get a map that works for your needs. However, these are some general steps to take to create a customer journey you’ll take.

  • Look at your sales funnel: Before you create a customer journey map, you should have already created your sales funnel. The sales funnel gives you information about customers move through your digital marketing efforts through the point that they make a purchase. The information from your sales funnel will give you important details about how many interactions are usually required before a customer makes a purchase from you and which types of interactions lead customers to more interactions.
  • Consider things from the customer’s perspective: If you think about the things that customers are looking for when they go on a journey with your brand, you will be better able to predict the steps they will take. Try going through your sales funnel like a customer. Does each step logically lead to the next step? Does part of the process feel rushed or off-message? Are you getting distracted by messaging from competitors at any part of the process? Challenging yourself to follow your brand as a customer will help you pinpoint areas of weakness.

    If you’re struggling to embrace the customer experience, consider reviewing transcripts of support calls and customer service emails. Patterns frequently lurk in these documents, which can help you uncover bumps in the customer journey.

  • Understand your brand’s touchpoints: Every time a customer likes a social media post or clicks on a link in a branded blog is a touchpoint. Identify all the touchpoint opportunities that exist online with your brand, and make sure they are all clear and engaging. Track which touchpoints get the most attention, so you can see the most significant points on the map. Nurturing those touchpoints that get the most engagement will keep customers coming, while tweaking your strategy for touchpoints that are lagging can increase interactions.
  • Create your map visually: Once you understand your funnel and touchpoints, create a visual representation of your customer journey that is accessible to all your team members. Focus on fixing any problem areas you see in the journey, and then continually track your results. Tracking lets you see when a touchpoint starts lagging or when new content isn’t getting the intended interactions, so you can adjust as needed. It is also important to update your map regularly. As the web and your competitors evolve, so will your customer journey. Be sure to optimize it regularly to maximize its effectiveness in the long-term.

There are no shortcuts to success in the customer journey but hiring Salem Media Group and Salem Surround to assist with your digital marketing efforts can make the road much smoother. We help clients of all sizes across the country surround their market online and connect with customers to develop long-term brand relationships. Find out how we can help you with your customer journey by calling (469) 586-0080.

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