The ultimate goal for any business website is to encourage customers to convert. However, the journey your potential customers take will play a major role in whether or not they make that final decision.
Fortunately, it’s possible to better understand the digital journey your customers travel, and improve it to increase the odds of conversion. This will provide them with a more seamless experience, and enable you to meet your sales goals more effectively.
In this post, we’ll introduce the digital customer journey and the various stages it includes. Then we’ll share some ways you can better define that journey. Let’s get started!
WHAT IS THE DIGITAL CUSTOMER JOURNEY?
In short, the digital customer journey is the path your customers take from initial contact to conversion. For strategic marketers, this journey is guided by a ‘map’ with easily distinguishable stages, so as to improve and streamline the process.
A well-defined digital customer journey enables you to deliver the right content at the optimal times, to increase the odds that a lead will eventually convert (i.e., make a purchase). This can be done manually, but technologies such as automated marketing software can also improve the process.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF A DIGITAL CUSTOMER JOURNEY?
While the customer journey will differ for every industry and website, there are a few basic stages that just about every consumer will travel through.
STAGE 1: BROWSE
During the browsing stage, the consumer probably hasn’t decided what to purchase, and may not even know what they’re looking for yet. This means they’re likely casting a wide net, with the help of search engines and social media.
This is where your website’s position on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) will play a key role, as will your approach to audience targeting. In this stage, you’ll want to focus on attracting those indecisive consumers to your website, so you can then ‘hook’ them.
STAGE 2: COMPARE
At this stage, the consumer has pinpointed a specific product or service they want, but they’re not yet invested in any particular company. This is where you need to focus a lot of your efforts, with the goal of wooing the potential customer into choosing your business.
While the browsing stage required you to use broader targeting techniques, you’ll now need to segment your audience so you can offer them exactly what they need. This may involve email marketing segmentation, and even geo targeted advertisements.
STAGE 3: CONTEMPLATE
Even once your company has made an impression on the consumer, they may still have some concerns or fears. These may be connected to the product itself, but it’s more likely that the consumer is wondering whether that product is worth the cost involved.
It’s crucial that you address consumer concerns at this stage, so as to put their minds at ease. You can do this by initiating follow-up contact via email or phone, with the sole purpose of answering questions.
STAGE 4: PURCHASE
When all questions have been answered and concerns addressed, the final stage is the purchase. This happens once the consumer has committed to the process, and it constitutes a conversion. However, the customer journey isn’t done at this point.
You’ll now need to consider how you can get the customer to share your product with their friends and family, and how you can get them to return in the future. Surveys and follow-up contacts are useful at this stage, and they can also help you improve your purchase process for future transactions.
HOW TO DEFINE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ DIGITAL JOURNEY
Now you have a greater understanding of what a customer’s digital journey involves, it’s time to create a customer journey map to ensure that process is seamless and consistent. Let’s talk about how to do that.
STEP 1: THINK LIKE A CUSTOMER
As mentioned previously, the digital journey that customers take will vary by company and website. You need to clearly define your own customers’ journey, by taking their thought processes and needs into account.
One way to achieve this is to go through the journey yourself. Keeping an unbiased opinion, begin your ‘customer journey’ on the home page of your website. What steps seem most natural to an indecisive customer, and where do they lead?
Continue through this journey all the way to completion, and make note along the way of any improvements you can make. For example, consider how you can make the steps easier to travel through, and look to pinpoint any obstacles you can remove.
STEP 2: MAKE INTERACTION A PRIORITY
Once you have a customer’s-eye view of the digital journey on your website, it’s time to offer support during the most critical stages of the process. The best way to do that is via direct customer interaction.
You should always make it easy for potential customers to contact you whenever the need arises. However, it’s also smart to initiate contact at the most crucial points, to ensure that the customer continues through the process. You can do this via phone, email, or even live chat.
STEP 3: IMPLEMENT YOUR CHANGES AND MAKE ROOM FOR GROWTH
This final step requires you to implement the changes you’ve identified, in order to create a more seamless digital journey for your customers. However, you’ll also want to leave room for growth, so future adjustments are possible.
It’s inevitable that your customers’ journey will change over time. This is especially true when you consider that the technologies you use and the best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will continue to shift. For those reasons, it’s important to periodically revisit your customer journey, and update it as needed.