In the Internet age, many companies have become increasingly obsessive about providing the best customer experience. Marketing professionals look at every detail of their branding to make sure it’s perfectly targeted to the intended audience, while web designers go in-depth on things like micro-animations to make users feel a particular way. And with the wealth of data we now have on our customers, there are seemingly infinite ways to tweak and retool the experience we’re delivering to get closer and closer to the ideal.
But on a macro level, people are rethinking how they conceive of their consumers’ long-term relationship with their brand. If you’re interested in grasping your customer’s brand journey and taking steps to make it as profitable as possible, you’re not alone.
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Here are five tips for understanding and optimizing the customer journey:
5 Tips for Understanding and Optimizing Your Customer’s Brand Journey
1. Create Accurate Customer Personae
Your journey map has, as its traveler, an imagined customer (or customers). Your customer persona shouldn’t be a complete abstraction. Instead, it should come from data about the people that actually buy what you’re selling. Take a look at your demographics and identify your average customer. Note that we didn’t say ideal customer! You want to take an objective look at the people who buy from you, even if they’re not who you set out to market yourself to. Research your customers and identify some key types of buyers.
You might have some consumers who fit your target market, and others who don’t, but you need to map out a customer journey for both. Develop these personae, including things like the technology each uses to connect with your company and the advertising they respond to, in as much detail as possible. Once you understand your traveler, you can start to visualize the journey.
2. Identify Points of Contact
A point of contact is any time a customer interacts with your brand. That’s not limited to the times that they willingly connect with you via your website or phone number; it also includes the times that they’re presented with your marketing materials.
Identifying these points can help you understand how a customer’s perception of your brand changes over time, from initial discovery, to purchase, to follow-up. Don’t make the mistake that many companies do and stop looking for touch points after the sale is made. Delivery of the product and use of the product are also key points.
3. Optimize Your Key Points
Once you’ve got these all figured out, examine each and see if there are ways to optimize it to make the journey smoother. Are you targeting ads to people who fit your user personae, or are you casting too wide of a net?
Is your checkout system easy to use, or are you missing out on conversions because you’re forcing customers to make an account to buy? Are customers being reconnected with after they make a purchase, or do they feel forgotten? All of these are things you can improve on to work toward the ideal customer journey.
4. Consider Every Path
Not all customers take the same route to buying your product. When mapping out the journey between the different points of contact you’ve identified, don’t limit yourself to the most conventional way that someone moves from discovery to awareness to conversion. Look at your individual user personae and consider how each type of person might navigate your brand. Enabling different types of customers to follow their own unique path toward a purchase is an important part of optimizing customer journey.
An instructive example: let’s say you initially visualized customers clicking through to your site from an email, learning about an individual product, then buying it. But your data shows that a lot of people are bouncing from the email to your blog, instead of the product page. If you don’t have a link to your product pages on your blog, you’re missing out on conversions from these customers. But if your blog includes a hyperlink to every product that you mention, these customers will be more likely to buy something.
5. Don’t Be Myopic
Something that hurts many people when mapping out customer journey is short-sightedness. If you sell a product that people only need to purchase once, you might think the journey ends after delivery or a satisfaction survey.
But customers who connect with your brand are more likely to recommend it to others if you gently remind them that they connected with it in the first place. Keep an eye on the lifetime value of your customers when mapping out their journey, and don’t cut it short prematurely.
The customer journey is a very useful concept for marketing, particularly online. Instead of looking at each transaction as a discrete entity, made in a vacuum, the customer journey visualizes customer personas and maps out how they relate to and identify with the brand over the course of their awareness of it. Follow the suggestions above to make your customer journey the best it can be.
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