The customer journey is no longer linear; what was once a relatively simple process has become increasingly complex with the introduction of online reviews, ecommerce, social media, and other technology. No two journeys are alike, making a marketer’s job more difficult. While modern marketers want to do everything they can to communicate with customers, they get lost in the shuffle and forget the main point of it all: the customer.

What marketers need to do is put themselves in their customers’ shoes and consider what information or promotion they may be interested in based on where they are in the buying process. This will open the doors for creating and offering the right content in the right place at the right time to engage people at every stage and move them further through the journey.

Continue reading to see the buying journey through your customers’ eyes, step by step.

Discovery/Research Stage

What your customers are doing:

In the initial stages of the customer journey, people decide they want a particular product or service and start their search. They might be looking online, browsing different websites; physically traveling to different stores; or reaching out to friends, family, and other peers for recommendations.

What you should be doing:

With this in mind, how can you make sure your brand is taken into consideration? The first step is awareness. A person can’t buy your product if they don’t know it exists. Paid ads via search or social media target audiences based on their search terms, location, interests and other demographic or behavior criteria. Leveraging paid advertising tools ensures your brand and products or services get in front of the people most likely to purchase from you.

You shouldn’t just be thinking about the ads themselves; think about what a person will want to see after clicking on them. Ads should lead users to related landing pages that reflect the content within the ad. Don’t play games with customers; give them the information they want as easily as possible in order to encourage a purchase.

Consideration Stage

What your customers are doing:

In this stage, consumers have identified the need for a certain type of product or service and are weighing their options. This means researching not just you, but your competitors as well. They are reading reviews of your brand and specific products and comparing them to others, and may even be adding items to their cart to revisit later.

What you should be doing:

It’s not enough to make a person aware of you; don’t let them forget you! Provide consistent communication that keeps your brand top of mind as they consider all their options. If a person browsed your site, remind them to come back; if they engaged with a social media post, target future social ads toward them. Just make sure you don’t overdo it; too much communication may overwhelm or irritate potential customers and turn them off to your brand.

Finally, send triggered cart abandon emails. If a person added something to their shopping cart, that means they are considering buying it, so give the final push that gets them across the finish line. This can be an email reminder that they have an item or items sitting in the cart, or even a discount on those products.

Purchase/Conversion Stage

What your customers are doing:

This is when your customers complete the action you’ve wanted from them all along; they have purchased something from you, either in a physical store or online via your website. If online, they have added something to their cart, filled out their billing and shipping information, and are ready to start using their new items.

What you should be doing:

A person has decided to make a purchase, and it’s vital that the purchasing process is as simple as possible for every customer. This means an intuitive storefront that is easy to navigate, with a straightforward order form and seamless transaction processing. An overly complicated checkout process will leave a person frustrated and less likely to want to buy from you again.

Post-Purchase Stage

What your customers are doing:

The customer has received their product! Hopefully, the buying process and the product itself have met their expectations, and as they start considering making another purchase, the personalization and ease they experienced with your brand has you in the running once again as they begin the next buying journey.

What you should be doing:

Just because a transaction is complete doesn’t mean your work is done. Ideally, a person will return to your store time and time again to make additional purchases, whether it be replenishing the last product or buying something new. Increasing your customer retention rate by just 5% can increase profits by anywhere from 25 to 95 percent.

The first step you should take to maintain ongoing engagement with a customer is to follow up with a thank you email; this should take place some time after the previous purchase was made, and should be specific to that person and the product they bought. A simple email that says, “Thank you for your recent purchase-here’s 15% off your next order!” can influence future customer behavior.

Additionally, you can leverage the information you’ve uncovered about a customer to recommend other products or encourage a repeat purchase. Let’s say you sell beauty products; if you know customer X bought face cream a month ago, it may be time to replenish their supply. Tracking and leveraging not just transaction amounts, but also dates, gives the opportunity for you to be front and center when the time comes for a customer to buy again.

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Advocacy Stage

What your customers are doing:

After purchasing and using your product, a customer might feel strongly enough about their experience that they post reviews and/or talk to their peers about your brand and products.

What you should be doing:

Incentivize a customer to review you and your products or to refer a friend with a special discount. Offering a promotion for referrals helps to keep existing customers and find new ones.

Once a customer publishes a review, you must respond to it in a timely manner, regardless of whether the review is positive or negative. If a person has a complaint, apologize, thank them for sharing the information, and continue the conversation offline to determine the best solution. When a person leaves a nice review, respond with kindness and appreciation. Not only will responding show the reviewer that you value them and their business, but it also will show you in a good light for other consumers in the consideration stage of their shopping journey.

Putting yourself in your customers’ shoes will allow you to produce better interactions and experiences. Having awareness of customer touchpoints, and knowing what information to provide at each, is critical for customer satisfaction and retention.

Maropost fills in the gap between commerce and marketing, simplifying customer engagement and allowing B2C marketers to reach their audiences in a meaningful way to drive loyalty and revenue. See it for yourself by requesting a demo today.

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