The dream of any business owner is to develop a successful marketing strategy that helps deliver their message to the right audience and at the right moment. Therefore, it is very important to understand the customer’s behavior and influence their decision from the awareness phase to the moment when they click the “order now” button.
What does it mean from a marketing point of view? This means that marketers should develop a well-researched customer journey and include it in all marketing phases. This article will give you more details on how to produce the right content for each phase of your customer journey and identify the right moment to deliver it.
How to Develop a Customer Journey Map
1. Start with creating a buyer persona
When preparing your marketing strategy, you need to understand to whom you are selling your products. The first phase of the customer’s journey is “awareness”. During the awareness phase, the consumer becomes aware of a specific need and is looking for a solution or remediation.
However, if you want to offer a solution to that person’s need, you should have a strong, contextual understanding of who that person is and what they are about. Buyer persona development exercises differ depending on whether you are selling to businesses or direct to consumer, but the process typically seeks answers to questions like:
- What is your buyer’s typical demographic makeup?
- What is their job function and what role do they play in the buying process?
- What challenges or trigger events are driving their need to seek out your solutions?
- How do they typically seek out information when researching solutions?
- How to they prefer to interact with vendors?
Depending on the complexity of your offerings, you may end up with multiple buyer personas. Each persona may require its own customer journey mapping exercise, but just take it one at a time to start.
2. Identify your customer’s decision stages
No matter what type of product or service you offer, a buyer is going to go through some form of decision-making process. The more you understand about that process, the more opportunity you have to influence their decision along the way.
From the context of an online business, the moment your target customer reaches your website to the moment they finalize the purchase, they will go through several phases. These phases are:
- Awareness phase – prospect become aware of a need and begin to seek out solutions
- Engagement phase – prospect explores the brand
- Evaluation phase – prospect identifies and evaluates applicable solutions
- Purchase phase – prospect becomes a paying customer.
- Post-purchase phase – offering customers support and complementary services.
Buyers of offline products will likely follow a similar path, but each stage in their journey may require research and evaluation, and include specific touch points from brands. This is where content becomes a key asset for businesses.
3. Identify the touch points
A savvy marketer should be able to identify the moments when you need to deliver the right content to engage your audience. Each phase of your customers’ journey requires different types of content.
“Knowing what your customers expect from you is crucial. You can push out your content to the customer by using relevant keywords and hashtags to attract their attention.”
– Daniela McVicker, Editor – TopWritersReview
4. Establish a timeline
Timing is very important when you want to create a successful customer journey map. Deeply analyze your customers’ buying behavior to identify each stage they follow through your sales funnel. Moreover, you should also monitor how long it takes for a customer to move from one stage to the other. This will help you quantify your content creation efforts.
5. Don’t forget about emotions
Your customers are human beings, which means that they are influenced by emotions when they make their buying decision. Once you know how to identify customers’ emotions, you should craft your content so that it appeals to these emotions and convinces your audience that they are doing the right thing if buying your products.
Real-world example – Customer journey mapping for a tax service
Customer journey mapping for a consumer ordering tax services has the following structure:
Example Buyer persona – “Sarah” is a 40-year-old, female, business owner who needs a professional tax consultant. Her goal is to find a consultant that can deliver results within the deadline and that will be willing to maintain strong communication during the process. Her main problem is finding someone who is responsible and reliable. Due to past issues with unresponsive vendors, she is keen to find someone who will respond timely to her requests and questions.
Decision stages – Sarah identifies the need for tax services and starts researching vendors. She starts her search in Google and types related search words such as “professional tax consultant in (location).”
Once Sarah arrives on your website, she evaluates your services and determines initial fit and viability. Due to the nature of her needs, she specifically reviews your “About” page, testimonials, and price information. Once satisfied that your service appears to be a fit, she looks for her desired method of engagement.
The thing you need to consider in the purchase phase is how she would prefer to book your service. The research performed during buyer persona development should help inform your options, which may include and online contact form, by phone, email, and in-person.
The post-purchase experience will depend on your performance. She will look at whether you completed the work on time and offered an excellent customer experience such as being available for consultations when she needed it. She will return for more services if you met her expectations.
Define touch points – When starting a search for a tax service, Sarah may likely search the internet using certain keywords or ask for recommendations from friends and colleagues on social media sites or specialized forums. So early touch points are likely to reside online and you should be strategically placing content or have a presence on those sites.
If much of your new business is driven by referrals, perhaps you should consider some form of referral or customer advocacy program that includes resources and incentives for those who may be positioned to regularly refer business to you.
Other touch points (email marketing, sales calls, etc.) may be needed to nurture prospects through a longer sales cycle.
Think about emotions – Although Sarah’s needs are squarely focused on managing her taxes, there is always a human, emotional side to what your services are really providing. Your services provide piece of mind, improved financial outcomes, less stress and worry about something detrimental happening to her business because her taxes are being done correctly.
You should incorporate these emotional benefits within your touch points and content. One way is to leverage past/current customer feedback, which can trigger positive emotions and build trust in your brand. Additionally, providing content that explains your process and what you plan to deliver can present you as a trustworthy company. And sharing positive reviews will motivate them to join the group of happy customers.
Content is essential for guiding consumers through their buying journey and should be developed for each stage. In addition, customer journey mapping will help you carefully plan your activities related to marketing, sales, and customer experience.
Your content should answer your buyers’ questions, address their pain points, and offer competitive solutions during each phase. Thus, mapping your customer journey is extremely helpful in producing engaging and successful content.