Marketers often talk about funnels and customer journey maps, but it’s all marketing jargon without a useful explanation. There are many ways to define the concept of a customer journey.
Customer Journey Maps: Define the step by step experiences of your customer beginning with the initial discovery of your business, getting to know you, deciding to buy, and then becoming loyal. That is a customer journey. High-tech friends often talk about user experience, and that concept is tied specifically to the way a customer uses your website during their customer journey.
Most small business owners I speak with understand this concept of customer journey maps very well, but they have not taken the time to map it all out. Each step in the customer journey is a reflection of the business’ brand. Your business is under scrutiny by prospective customers at each step of the way. Why not put your best foot forward and present the business brand in the best possible way?
The Beginning of the Customer Journey
What are the most common ways for someone to first encounter your business? A better question may be… what is the big problem or pain point someone is facing that causes him or her to have a need for your business? Perhaps the prospective customer meets you at a conference or another in-person event.
If the very first touch point with your business’ brand was meeting a team member at an in-person event, the second step of following-up is vital. When someone has first “discovered” your business, he or she is going to do what comes most naturally – question and research. In most cases, this means searching for your business online and looking at competitors too. This search may be a traditional internet search or it may be within a social media platform. Yes, people are increasingly using social media and ecommerce platforms to begin their online searches before turning to traditional search engines such as Google and Bing.
As of a 2014 study, 40% of Pinterest users were starting their searches within Pinterest before going to a traditional search engine. With the introduction of Pinterest’s image search this statistic has probably grown even more. In a report from Statista and UPS, they found that 38% of online shoppers in the US began their searches for a product within a marketplace such as Amazon(29%) or Ebay, according to a recent UPS survey charted for us by Statista.
Third-party platforms play a big part in the customer journey. Are you aware of what your brand looks like on Pinterest (if that’s a place people are searching for you)? You have the ability to control your brand on most of these social media and ecommerce platforms. If you are not present there, then the platform simply becomes a barrier or a dumping ground.
A Short Story About Reputation Management
I’ve been working with a smart attorney for a couple of years now. The downside to working in the legal profession is that someone is always going to end up hurt or angry in a court case. It may not be the client, but it may be the opposing side. Those situations leave some people feeling unheard, so what do they do? They go online and complain.
In one instance with my client, the smart attorney, she represented one side in a case where her client came out with the best possible outcome. The client was very happy. However, the opposing side was quite unhappy and took to the online forums. He left nasty “reviews” of the smart attorney on FindLaw and Yelp. These websites have some, albeit small, impact on one’s decision to work with an attorney. Unfortunately, the smart attorney did not know the opposing side had taken such action until I discovered it.
We had the “reviews” removed since they were not actually reviews. During the time prior to our discovery of the comments, a prospect may have moved on to another attorney. After seeing those “reviews”, one may have second guessed their decision to call the office. For a short while it tarnished her brand of being a tough and smart attorney who guides clients to the best possible route during the stressful times of legal action.
Reading reviews about an attorney is one of the many steps in the customer journey. Setting up ways to be managing your online reputation has a big impact on your brand. Make sure to be listening and watching what’s happening.
Are you a business owner struggling to differentiate from the competition?
It’s time to think about your business brand and what makes you special.
Branding on Your Website
After completing some online research and maybe some comparison shopping, a prospective customer will visit your website. Have you thought about what the user experience is from your homepage? Does your business serve more than one kind of customer need? The answers to these questions have a big impact on conversions.
If you have multiple kinds of customers with different needs, then the homepage is an opportunity to direct them to the next best page. Guide them to learn more about what you offer based on their needs. This is what a marketer would call a top of funnel activity. Directing this prospective customer to a page that does not serve his needs is a great way to lose his interest.
Does the content of your homepage and the subsequent pages tell a story? Are you speaking to the customer’s needs and pain point? When evaluating the effectiveness of your website (in terms of the customer journey mapping), put on your “empathy eyes“ and imagine you are your ideal customer. If you can follow the steps of the website’s user experience and feel like you are getting closer to an answer or the desired outcome, then you know things are working out. If you question some of the copy, buttons or logic of the pages, then it’s time to make some changes.
Identify All Touch Points in the Customer Journey
The purpose of mapping the customer’s journey is to find ways to improve it and make sure that your brand is living up to the promise you’ve made. The image above is a very simple customer journey map. It gives you an idea about how many times an individual can come into contact with your business. It’s important to note that the customer journey is not exclusively part of marketing or sales. Customer service and other operations impact it too.
If you’d like to dig further into the various ways of creating a customer journey map, then check out this Pinterest Board. I made it for this very reason – sharing ideas.