If you understand the customer’s journey, you can create meaningful content that will reach them at critical points during their multiple interactions with your brand and move them forward in the buying process.
No matter what product or service you provide or whether you are B2B or B2C, a customer almost always has more than one touch point with your business before a sale is final. It can take up to 13 or more touches just to generate a qualified sales lead.
All of these points are opportunities to use inbound marketing strategies to provide customers with critical information to aid them in moving forward in their journey. Content planning is a core component in any inbound marketing strategy. An article we recently posted, “5 Strong Reasons Why Inbound Marketing Works for Your Online Strategy,” highlights these reasons inbound marketing is great for your online strategy:
- You’ll Gain Clarity on Your Real Audience
- Gives Direction to Your Social Media Strategy
- Builds Trust and Credibility
- Fills Your Sales Funnel with Qualified Leads
- Significantly Improves Your Bottom Line
Now that we know why inbound marketing works, the next step is to understand how it works.
Customers Use Multiple Channels During Their Journey
Before you can determine what content you need to create, you must first understand how the customer’s journey affects their buying experience. Potential customers typically use five or six channels to interact with a brand before making a purchase. Yet, marketers are failing to keep up with their customers’ experience, according to a Millard Brown Digital poll reported by eMarketer, which revealed that 55% of senior marketers were not confident that their company understands the customer journey.
Customers often take non-linear, circuitous journeys during the buying experience. People may see a video ad or read an online review, then use their smartphones to research more information, and move to a laptop or tablet to complete the purchase. Customers learn about your business through any number of outlets such as online advertising, social media, blog posts, consumer reviews, website research and so on.
Why Customer Journey Mapping Helps
You don’t want to lose your customers among the thickets of the many various marketing channels used to reach them. Customer journey mapping helps you find your customers to move them forward at important points along their journey. Through the process of creating a visual representation of a customer’s journey, you will be able to:
1) identify the reasons your customers are coming to your business, which will enable you to
2) effectively brainstorm content creation ideas tailored to their needs and that answers their specific questions, while also helping you
3) identify the appropriate channels customers are likely to use to access your content.
How to Begin Customer Journey Mapping
Since different businesses have different offerings and often times multiple personas they market to, there is no one right way to create a customer journey map. Harvard Business Review explains the process in its article “Use Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience.”
Begin by making a timeline of the stages of interaction customers experience with your business. These stages may broadly be defined as awareness, research, and purchase. During each stage, focus on these four areas as you fill out the journey mapping process:
- Action: Describe the actions your customers are taking during each stage. What do they do to move themselves forward to the next stage?
- Motivation: Assess the possible motivations of your customers. Why do they need your product or service? Why is the customer moving to the next stage?
- Questions: Find out what the customer needs to know. What questions are they asking? What information will help move them to the next stage?
- Barriers: Determine potential barriers that prevent customers from moving forward. Is is price? Do they fully understand the benefits of what you are providing? Do they understand the process involved and know how to move forward?
Customer Journey Mapping is for Every Business, Large or Small
Use these questions to gain clarity in understanding your customers’ journeys and to develop content that aids customers in the process of moving forward to the final purchasing phase. Data is an invaluable resource in customer journey mapping. Data generated during tracking and monitoring customer behavior are like road signs along the highway of customer experience. Customer feedback or reviews may also help illuminate pain points along the way. But you don’t need vast amounts of data to understand and map your customers’ journeys.
You also don’t need a team of marketers developing complicated algorithms to understand the journeys your customers take as they interact with your brand. What you do need is the ability to step back and gain an overarching perspective of your company’s communication channels. You must take a look at when, why and how customers use each of these channels. The actual mapping process creates a visual representation of this, and allows you to gain valuable insights as you see your company through the eyes of your customers.
We understand your need to understand your customer’s journey. Contact us to help develop online marketing content that increases your customers’ satisfaction and your bottom line.