Improve your digital experiences with a better customer journeySiw Grinaker on
A good customer journey is vital for improving your organisation’s digital experiences. Get some ideas on how you can accomplish just that.
It is no longer a controversial statement: A great majority of people now conduct most of their research online before buying products or services—be it digital or physical.
The process people go through to gradually get familiar with your product is called the buyer’s journey, or the customer journey. In every step of his information gathering the buyer should be delighted by great user experience.
How to improve your buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey is a process consisting of several stages, from a person’s first awareness of your brand to the continuous delighting of your customers. To create truly excellent user experiences you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you need to know what he’s thinking and why—at each stage.
You need to ask yourself questions like:
What type of information is needed at each stage?
What questions are your potential customers asking at each stage?
What kind of content and services makes the most sense at each stage?
What terms might the customer be searching for at each stage?
For example: at an early stage, a potential customer—let’s say a restaurant owner—may have come to realise that he loses market shares by having an outdated website and CRM system. The information he needs at this awareness stage is to find out what the latest technologies are, or what the latest restaurant business trends are.
The restaurant owner may be asking questions like: “what digital solutions exist for restaurants?” or “what is digitalisation?” When he finds out more, he may ask questions about how to modernise his restaurant with digital solutions, and what digital platform may be best suited. The information the restaurant owner needs gradually changes from purely factual to increasingly helpful, and then increasingly selling.
After obtaining a general overview of your digital experiences and your customer’s situation, you can start working on concrete steps to map the buyer’s journey. Here are some examples, as specified by Weidert Group:
Brainstorm questions buyers are asking
Identify members of the buying team
Choose the right format
Be where the buyer is
Optimise your content with keywords and relevant terms
How to improve your digital experiences
There are several ways of categorising a buyer’s journey. For our purposes, we have decided to split the journey into four stages: awareness, consideration, decision, and delight. Now we will show how you can improve your digital experiences at every stage of the buyer’s journey—especially with the help of a dedicated web platform.
Awareness stage (attract)
In the awareness stage, the buyers realises they have a problem. You should try to attract them with content that identifies their challenges, in the right channels. Common channels, or touchpoints, in this stage include PR, radio, TV, print, outdoor billboards and posters, word of mouth, online ads, viral email, digital signage, social media, search, landing page, and blog.
When you know what your potential customers are thinking about in this stage, you can start to tailor your digital and owned touchpoints with your digital platform, or content management system:
Online ads: While online ads are usually managed through its own system, like Google Ads, your digital experience platform may include an integration or analytics part, allowing you a neat way to see your ads in tight connection to your content. Also, the content your ads direct to are, of course, usually created and maintained in your digital platform.
Social media: The social media platforms are obviously not a part of your owned digital experience package, but they are nonetheless an integral part of your buyer’s journey. Make sure that your digital experience platform has the option to integrate with social media in one way or another, either through the plain, old sharing functionality or a tighter integration in the forms of posting and viewing statistic from within the platform.
Search: Searching for keywords, terms, and topics is something you can cater to with search engine optimisation tools in your digital platform, whether they be native or through an extension. Any digital experience should leverage the importance of SEO.
Blog: Your digital experience platform should support blogging in order to attract people who are trying to identify their problems (which, of course, you provide answers to). In a good and user-friendly CMS, a blog content type allows for a fixed blog post layout (so you can concentrate on writing great copy), tags, scheduling options, rich text editing, and easy image handling.
Landing page: A landing page content type differs from a blog by being more customisable in appearance and being more timeless, not being included in the constant stream of new blog posts. Your digital platform should support this content type, too, and include great drag and drop tools for easy and visual management to create the best-looking landing page with the best chance to compel your visitors to do certain actions, which leads us to the next stage.
Consideration stage (convert)
In the consideration stage, the buyers define their problem and researches options to solve it. Here you should provide guides and solutions to how they can overcome their challenges. Common touch points here also include search, landing page, and blog, with the addition of call to action, form, premium content, third party sites, and direct mail.
Call to action: A call to action is a button, box, or text goading your visitors to perform a certain action, usually in the form of downloading premium content, ordering a product, or booking a meeting. Again, even if your digital platform doesn’t natively support the creation and management of CTAs, it should at least have the possibility to seamlessly integrate with third party actors who do.
Form: Forms may seem old fashioned, but think about this: Behind the glitter and glam of modern digital experiences, from rich services to fancy apps, are databases and forms. So don’t downplay the forms, they are the building blocks of digital society, so to speak. And in this case a form is used to fetch and store information about your potential customers, preferably on a landing page, in order to take them further along the buyer’s journey. And your digital platform should support the integration with forms, in the same way and for the same reasons as CTAs.
Decision stage (engage and purchase)
In the decision stage, the buyers choose a solution to their problem. Now it’s the time to promote your solution as the right fit, and while this stage shares some touchpoints with the previous stages, it also includes store, call centre, and website.
Website: It may already be too narrow to focus on the “pure” website as a means to array your services and offerings to potential customers.In the future it certainly will be an obsolete way of looking at things. The reason for this is that several channels that were traditionally separate, like desktop websites, apps and self service machines, are continuously merging into one, holistic digital experience.
The reason we’re elaborating on this point is to make sure that your digital experience platform is future-proof in the sense that it supports this fusion. The fusion involves responsive websites, progressive web apps, and APIs that can be used and sent to virtually any type of device and channel.
Delight stage (service and loyalty)
The delight stage is where the buyers are delighted and serviced ad infinitum—becoming loyal ambassadors of your brand in the process. Common touchpoints for service and loyalty include mobile, IM, chat, call center, self service, promotion on invoice, blog, email, newsletter, and coupon.
Email and newsletter: A method of delighting your current customers is to identify what their interests and future challenges are, and then use their behavioural insights from your digital platform as a guide to create and dispatch content via emails and newsletters that helps them further along their way.
Self service: Delighting your customers isn’t the task of just the marketing department, with their distribution of helpful articles, premium content, coupons, and so on. A very central part of delighting your customers fall to “business as usual”, in this case a well-working service. People love that things just work, although they don’t express this explicitly all the time. A digital offering with excellent self service functions, like ordering a taxi or transferring assets, is vital to your digital experiences and must not be overlooked.
Your digital experiences and customer journey are two sides of the same coin, and can work in tandem to let you reach out to more relevant people with helpful content. When you have control over your customer journey and why you are doing what you are doing, take a look at your digital experience platform, or CMS, to determine if it is the right platform for your endeavours.
Frequently asked questions
What is a customer journey?
The touchpoints and overall experience for a customer—from the first task solving to buying and recommending your product.
Why is a customer journey important?
It identifies potential friction, dead ends, and issues with the current state, and allows you to identify and enhance positive customer experiences.
How can a customer journey help my business?
It can help you identify useless or obsolete touchpoints, and the ones generating most revenue—thus cutting cost and generating more income.
How do I map the customer journey?
Perform an inventory of all your digital and analogue channels, offerings, products, and services, then place them according to where in the sales process they belong.