Customer Journey: the path before them

Seomphony - Customer Journey - Photo by Augusto Navarro

Customer Journey is the path your site visitors proceed from obscurity to becoming your brand ambassador.

In between you’ll find different stages, and also different information needs per stage.

  1. A person just having realized he needs something goes online and looks for providers.
  2. Once found, he digs deeper and looks for product specifications so that he can compare the options.
  3. After having chosen and bought, he’ll look for further instructions.

What this all means is that you need to provide different kinds of content for those different phases because the customer needs to make different kind of decisions in different phases. One general type of blog post won’t serve everyone at every stage.

A customer journey usually consists of three stages

The stages in the customer journey are usually called Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.

Awareness

Here, the customer does not yet recognize he has a need or recognizes it and becomes aware of the fact that a product or a service might satisfy that need.

  • In this stage, people look for answers, general information, education, research data, opinions, and insights.
  • They do Google searches, quickly browse through providers and earmark those, whose titles, descriptions, URLs, and copy are the most understandable.
  • Keywords used at this stage are mostly navigational.
  • At this stage, the value of the visitors as leads is low, because there’s no guarantee that any action will lead to an actual buy.
  • However, those that find a good match between what they searched for and where they ended up may move on to the next stage.

To serve people at this stage,

  1. Perform keyword research on your industry, on your area of expertise as well as on the products and services that you provide.
  2. Select the keywords that match your specific offerings and create optimized blog posts that address each keyword in a high-value way. Share the posts in social media to make yourself known.
  3. Create advertising campaigns that target the specific segment.
  4. Other content that works well include checklists, how-to videos, ebooks, courses, whitepapers, and webinars.

From there, point the visitor to a landing page that includes a short description of what it is that you are offering and a Call To Action, that is, a button to subscribe to a newsletter or to download more detailed eBook, for example. This way, you can acquire the customer’s email address and can begin to address him/her personally. Live chat also works well, and we have the data to prove it.

Consideration

Here, the customer recognizes the solution to his problem i.e. his need might be satisfied by a product or service that you, too, provide. They are trying to figure out which of the providers are and aren’t suitable for him/her and clarify whether your product/service, in particular, is the best fit for them.

At this stage, you also need to determine which of the leads is and isn’t a good fit for you. An ideal customer is one that can provide great lifetime value to you and you to him/her. To do so, you need to be prepared to engage customers in social media and other channels to determine where your and his/her objectives might match.

Support this process by providing case studies, product webinars, samples, FAQ pages, data sheets and demo videos as well as testimonials, existing customer interviews, and articles. These need to help the leads compare your products and services with those of the other providers and display what purposes exactly are the product/services suitable for.

Finally, it is likely that the customer will also check discussion forums for user experiences of those having already bought and used your product/service. You may want to participate in the discussion, but the correct way is only to correct false information and provide links to the correct one, not to manipulate the free sharing of information.

Decision

The customer is considering just before the final buying decision

This is a great opportunity to provide a free gift for the ones still hesitating. It could be a free guide, a special offer, a trial period or a product/service presentation at your or the customer’s premises.

Also, in this stage, the customer may have to convince another person (a spouse, a superior, top management). To help him/her do so, provide clear numerical content that describes the benefit or the return on investment in a presentation, white paper, price list or flowchart format. User guides and manuals are often sought in this phase. You could also provide a free consultation, a live demo or allow the customer to observe the product/service in action.

Customer journey does not end with the latest purchase

What else can you offer for the one already bought? After sales content will help your customers extract even more value from your product/service. Also, content related to your other products and services might help him/her to embark on another journey.

As you see, it’s not at all insignificant what kind of content you provide in each phase of the Customer Journey. Producing all of this may look like a huge task, but remember that you do not have to create all at once. It all starts with you identifying your ideal customer in the form of the Buyer Persona.

Further reading

In this Hubspot article you can find examples of content in each stage.

A customer journey map must move you towards more conversions AND awesome retention rates. Don’t forget the latter one.