The Customer Journey Mapping Process
There is no such thing as a linear path when it comes to a customer’s journey. Nothing is static, and nobody researches a product the same way. It’s clear that a lot of marketing, as we previously knew it, has drastically changed because of prospects access to digital information. Where we used to focus on the set steps of the sales funnel, we now have to reach our customers in places, and in ways, that directly relate to their own experience.
Now, it’s all about staying connected at any touchpoint, at any time throughout the buying action.
As you plan your customer journey mapping process, you have to meet your potential buyer on a path that takes an unknown amount of twists and turns. You have to take them on a ride they don’t want to get off and when they finally do disembark, they would recommend your service to everyone they know.
That customer-centric journey is all over the place, isn’t it? It’s far from the linear process that customers engaged in before the internet gave instantaneous access to whatever information a viewer desires. Here are five ways to start improving your customer journey mapping process to better fit thebuyerss of the digital age.
1. Know Who You’re Targeting.
One of the most effective ways to approach your customer’s journey is to zero in on your target audience. Let your prospects know you understand their pain points, and that you’ve designed your services to fix their dilemmas. Be their problem solver.
In Jim Connoly’s blog 4 Powerful Words The Attract Clients Like a Magnet! Jim wrote that when he said, “bring me your problems” to potential clients he could immediately feel their relief. People want to feel secure in their decisions and by offering to solve existing problems instead of offering to fix things that aren’t broken people will want to work with you.
But to do this, you have to know who you are targeting, why they care, and how to reach them. You can do this many different ways, but here are a few ideas:
- Interview your current clients and find out what really drove them to buy from you. What problems did your customer think you’d solve?
- Study your business competitors and their related industry forums and monitor news, social media and trends.
- Check your content to see what is working for you and what isn’t. Track what’s effective to see what language and topics resonate most.
- Conduct a market survey to see where your message resonates. There are plenty of online options for distribution like SurveyMonkey or TypeForm.
When you understand your audience, you’ll close the deal faster, and you’ll lead customers down the path toward loyal customer use. Need a little help getting started? Try using this buyer persona template as a guideline to hitting that target purchaser.
2. Find Your Story.
Audiences tend to respond to reliability. That’s why there is a growing trend towards storytelling in marketing. To effectively optimize the customer experience, you need to develop your story and draw the user in.
Include these components:
- Who are you?
- What is your corporate personality?
- Why should people use you?
- How have you helped other similar businesses?
- What problems can you solve for them?
Answering these questions for your potential customer will help them open up and engage with you since it’s clear you’re in the business of solving their problems.
3. Map Critical TouchPoints, But Don’t Stop There.
In an article by Forrester, Martin Gill points out that customers use many touchpoints to find you. From Internet searches to networking, from conferences to social media, businesses use a wide a variety of resources to find needed services. To make an impact on these users, identify and map the cross-touchpoints your customer uses along their journey.
And Gill suggests:
- Don’t try to please everyone. Focus only on your target market.
- Optimize the journey instead of the touchpoint.
- Manage transitions to the next stage. Use the right channels at the right time to keep your prospect engaged.
So consider the different stages of your customers’ journey, and map content to the questions they’re asking at each stage. What is their thought process when considering your services or products? What content would appeal to them at each stage? And what channels are they using?
4. Always Adapt.
Understand that your customers’ needs and expectations change and you need to continuously monitor and adapt to them. Today’s marketer has to be attentive and nimble to anticipate and respond to their customers’ changing habits and needs. It’s your job to prove to your customers that they matter to you and that you hear their issues and concerns. You have to make a concerted effort to meet their needs. So as a marketer, it’s up to you to listen and continuously adjust to reach them and engage with them.
The good news is, there is a lot of technology and data available for you to use to respond to their changing needs. This recent article from eMarketer highlights the need for marketers to use tools to achieve greater efficacy and efficiency.
There are also strategic partners, like Matrix Marketing Group, which will help map your strategy and help you predict your customers’ future actions.
5. Use the Data.
Nothing is better than research and actual numbers that tell you where your customers start, where they navigate to, what content makes them convert, and how long does all of this take?
Using a CRM is a great solution but just leveraging a service like Google Analytics to understand your customers’ journey can be incredibly effective.
Things you want to know:
- Where are your customers coming from? Organic searches, referrals, social media, or from another page on your site?
Armed with this information, you’ll have an idea of where you’re doing well and what needs improvement. If they’re staying to navigate to different pages, you have a site that encourages exploration, if they’re coming from organic search you have good SEO and so on.
- Which pages are getting conversions?
If you write a blog and you have some contact information for customers fill out with a place for their name and email why are they filling this out? What did this piece of content offer to the customer? Consider why they thought it was important and what this says about their needs.
- What is your bounce rate?
What percentage of people see your page and immediately navigate away from it? Typically this happens because the content is not a good fit for the viewer. Another possibility is that something was wrong. This can happen if a website takes too long to load or if they spot a typo in their initial scan of the page. Customers don’t want to wait, and they want content that’s trustworthy.
- Who is your audience?
Sometimes you might be attracting a different demographic than you were expecting. This could mean you’re attracting a different age or a different sex than you had anticipated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and in the future, you could consider tailoring your messages to attract more of this unforeseen demographic traffic.
- What device are your visitors using?
A huge pain point for visitors is if they visit a site on a mobile device and the site is not optimized for mobile. Most traffic on the internet today is coming from mobile devices so if you have the resources it’s worth optimizing your site to give users an optimal visiting experience. The decrease in load times will also act to decrease your bounce rate and improve your SEO as a result.
- Are people returning to your site?
Getting people to your site is one thing but getting return visitors is much more difficult. A way to get people to come back is to stick to a schedule like new posts every other week on the same day. This is a great way to increase overall traffic and gain a loyal following that will be more likely to convert later down the pipeline.
6. It’s not About the Destination; It’s About the Journey.
You may have heard it said that it’s not about where you end up, it’s about how you got there. So as you create your marketing strategy, keep that in mind. No longer is there a beginning and an end to the sales funnel. In fact, it’s not a funnel at all – it’s a dynamic, complex journey with many intersections. Be nimble, adapt to your customers’ changing needs and habits, and make it a journey your customer wants to stay on.
- Identify the pain points of your visitors
- Who is your brand? How can you alleviate their problem?
- Appeal to your target audience
- Be ready to adapt to help your customers
- Understand your key metrics with data
7. Relate Your Marketing Strategy
As you nail down the customer journey think about how it applies to your overall marketing strategy. Did you know there are over 60 inbound marketing services? That’s just inbound, not even mentioning outbound marketing activity. Obviously, different buyers will relate to different marketing tactics.
For example, the manufacturing industry still gathers a large amount of their information through print trade magazines. If you have a limited budget would it make more sense to invest it in print bylines or digital ads? The point is not all marketing content will be digested the same by different positions and different industries.
We live in the age of content marketing. Now more than ever, practically everything we, as marketers do, is for our audience. It’s the responsibility of businesses to educate their visitors, on their terms, and give them something worth their time. If customers don’t get what they need at one site they have a wealth of options to choose from, and they’ve become a lost opportunity for your organization.
If the customer journey mapping process sounds overwhelming, or you don’t know where to start let’s talk.