Effectively Reach Your Customer Throughout Their Journey From Lead, to Prospect, to Buyer
The pandemic has delivered a lot of reality checks to businesses over the last two years. Among them? A massive shift in customer expectations and behaviors. Many businesses were caught off-guard initially but have gradually adjusted to accommodate a more remote, hyper-personalized, high-demand customer experience. Making these adjustments relies on refreshing your understanding of your customers and their journey, and the best way to do so is by creating a customer journey map.
Why Revisit the Customer Journey Because of COVID-19?
The pre-pandemic customer was a lot different in many ways. In-person service was conducted without a second thought, and while remote transactions were certainly common, they weren’t a sole solution or, in many industries, even the norm.
Quarantine, isolation, and extended time at home, coupled with fears around getting sick and massive job losses, have all caused consumers to shift the value they place on different aspects of their lives. A McKinsey & Company study that looked at changing consumer behaviors due to COVID-19 found numerous trends, many of which are likely to persist long after the pandemic. We’ve outlined the trends below, and detailed how businesses need to respond:
- Fierce loyalty to brands that meet their new needs and expectations: Offer seamless digital capabilities like first-class e-commerce and omnichannel experiences.
- Greater focus on personal wellbeing: Provide a safe in-store environment, offer new product assortments geared toward freshness, health, and safety.
- Decreased discretionary spending: Offer greater value for the money, with high-quality, private-label, and well-branded products.
- Increase in media consumption: Have a presence across multiple touchpoints to meet customers where they are.
- Desire to conduct business remotely: Rethink the physical store footprint and adopt accessible digital capabilities to replace in-person services.
All of these behavior shifts are indicative of a changing customer journey. As individuals alter where they engage, how they engage, and what they engage with, businesses must shift to meet them on this new journey.
For example, with people working remotely and going out less frequently, marketing departments are shifting ad spends away from out-of-home (OOH) and toward digital.
Let’s talk about how to identify the new customer journey for your target audience by creating a customer journey map.
How to Turn Leads into Prospects, and Prospects Into Buyers With a Customer Journey Map
We know that the customer journey is not linear. And even if it had been before the pandemic, it certainly isn’t now. A customer journey map allows you to understand exactly where customers are interacting with your brand so you can engage in the right way.
Read More: The New Digital Buyer Journey
Here, we’ll guide you through the steps to create a customer journey map, and fill you in on the helpful information you can gather and leverage along the way.
1. Review how customers are interacting with your brand.
Take a look at your website, social media, advertising, content, and other digital outreach activity. You’ll be able to quickly see which touchpoints are drawing customers in and moving them through the funnel to a purchase. This information is important for a few reasons:
- You’ll know which touchpoints get the most results; i.e. maybe your blog gets a ton of traffic but your monthly email has no activity. Weave the successful touchpoints into your customer journey map and plan to optimize any that might be on life support.
- You’ll understand your customers a little better. Got a ton of hits on an eBook about supply chain woes? That should tell you something about what your audience is concerned about. This knowledge will help you master step #2.
- You’ll be able to take stock of all your available touchpoints. It’s always good to know how many ways your customers have to get to you – and what those ways are. This information is invaluable for creating your customer journey map.
2. Define your target audience personas and identify their needs.
As we mentioned, you can tell a lot about your target audience by the way they’re already interacting with your brand. However, since you’re revisiting the customer journey, we recommend creating audience personas that take into account the “new normal” of pandemic life. Maybe your primary target audience is a CTO. They are now likely more concerned with network security due to remote work environments, and if your content isn’t talking about that issue, it’s a missed opportunity.
Read More: Do Your Target Audience Research
3. Map touchpoints to customer interactions based on their behavior and personas.
Once you have identified your audience personas and the pain points, buying behaviors, and expectations they hold for your brand, create a “map” that ties each persona with specific touchpoints along each stage of the buyer journey. Remember, the buyer journey isn’t linear, so you need to have multiple touchpoints for each stage that all provide useful information.
Your customer journey map for a specific audience persona might look something like this:
|Pain Points||Specific pain point(s) that would lead Persona A to your brand. Provide information and opportunities not being leveraged by your competitors.|
|Solutions||Valuable knowledge to connect with Persona A and anchor your brand in their mind.||More specific information about your brand and why you are a leading solution to capture and hold Persona A’s attention.||Customer-first information to draw Persona A deeper into considering your brand.||Helpful information and support to nurture prospects as they move toward becoming paying customers.||Customer empowerment with exclusive information, tutorials, and support.||Ongoing communication & engagement at strategic times throughout the customer lifecycle.|
|Touchpoints||Blog Posts, E-Books, Aspirational Videos, Infographics, Sell Sheets, At-a-Glance, Guides, Templates, Checklists, Social Media, SEO, PPC Ads||Webinars, Brochures, Product Comparisons, Published Articles, Demo Videos, Testimonials, Case Studies, FAQs, Solution/Product Briefs, Product Fact Sheets, Product Overviews||Educational Whitepapers, Free Consultations, Free Trials, Free Tools, Deals/Offers, Live Demos, Estimates/Proposals, Datasheets, Calculators||Articles, Videos, Solution Updates, Product Updates, Webinars, Events, Email Correspondence, Manuals, Application Notes, Trips and Tricks||Tutorials, Support, Customer Service||Review Opportunities, Surveys|
|User Actions||Desired Calls to Action to drive the user forward||Desired Calls to Action to drive the user forward||Desired Calls to Action to drive the user forward||Desired Calls to Action to drive the user forward||Desired Calls to Action to drive the user forward||Calls to Action to incentivize Evangelism|
In this example, we’ve described what each area should ideally provide. You’ll see that when it comes to addressing customer pain points, understanding what your competitors are doing is critical. If you can identify missing opportunities in a competitor’s customer journey, your brand can fill those gaps and stand out.
You’ll also notice that each touchpoint needs a strategic call to action to help move customers through their journey to another touchpoint. You should always be thinking about the next step in the journey when creating a customer map.
4. Isolate gaps in your available touchpoints.
Often, businesses will identify gaps in their available touchpoints after creating the customer journey map. You might find you have a multitude of “engagement-level” content that is helpful once the customer becomes interested in your brand, but without the right “fascination-level” content, you’re expecting them to jump in with both feet.
Weave this missing content into your overall content strategy. We’ve got some tips on how to create one if you haven’t yet! And this step is where you would look to optimize those touchpoints from step 1 that aren’t creating value for your brand currently.
Read More: It’s Time to Modernize Your Content!
5. Monitor the customer journey closely, especially as the economic climate continues to change.
Finally, and critically, you must keep tabs on the customer journey. It is always changing, especially in a climate like the one we continue to weather. Repeat step 1 as often as needed to understand what touchpoints are working and which ones need optimizing or rethinking entirely.
If you understand your customers, you’ll be able to anticipate their needs, speak to their pain points, and provide the solution they’re looking for. And you can do it all in the way that best serves them during an unprecedented time.
Our customers will always have unique needs whether there is a pandemic or not, so it is best to get a handle on how you approach and manage the customer journey for your business. We are in a business climate where customer expectations are more focused on personalized, tailored solutions than cheap prices or easy answers, and the businesses that satisfy those demands will gain lasting customer loyalty.
Want some help developing your customer journey map? Contact us today.