Is your customer journey a road to nowhere?
That question started off a recent presentation by emfluence teammates Sara Theurer and Alex Boyer. Their discussion revolved around how marketers can help build engaging and memorable customer journeys. To answer the question, though, one had to know what a customer journey is. It is the journey customers take when interacting with a business. Boyer noted it happens in 5 steps: Discovery, Education, Trust, Conversion & Advocacy, yet these days, those steps aren’t navigated from start to finish in that order. There are multiple entry points to the journey because customers are experiencing so many different forms of messaging. Any of the behaviors we want customers to perform aren’t just instinct, customers need to be guided through the journey and we do this through customer touch points, whether indirect like blog posts or direct via emails.
Conduct a Customer Journey Audit
To help sculpt the customer journey, and the Discovery & Education of your brand, Boyer shared some best practices to put in place. The first is an audit of what you believe the current customer journey is as it relates to their experience with your brand. You need to ask where each of your current customer touch points fits as they interact with your brand. Boyer questioned where the customer starts and where the journey take her. He asked if everything work together and present a unified brand image? Is there anything that can be eliminated? Mapping out this journey helps you understand where customers could potentially drop out of the journey, but it also helps you think about how customers think instead of how you think. In doing this, Boyer noted that you also can create customer personas to help yourself see the journey in the eyes of different types of consumers. He also encouraged frequent review of the journey and asking for an outside opinion to confirm the findings or expose you to things you may not have seen.
Understanding the Discovery & Education steps through a customer journey audit is important, but then comes the Trust & Conversion. Boyer offered a few insights on how to nudge customers to take the action you want them to take. Sometimes, according to Boyer, it just takes a personal touch. In a world where we are being inundated with messaging from all fronts, building trust with a voice, face, or handshake can get the deal done. When that may not be possible, Boyer introduced the idea of retargeting through emails or ads. He made sure to express the need for subtlety here, as not all customers want to realize they are being tracked, btu giving customers special offers when they are on the fence can sometimes lead to the action being completed.
Once the sale is complete, your customer has reached the last step in the journey: Advocacy. Your job isn’t done though, says Theurer. This is when you have the opportunity to create even more memorable experiences around your brand. According to Theurer, email marketing has one of the highest ROIs when it comes to marketing tactics and since email is an opt-in tactic, customers are expecting you to send valuable information to them. Part of this value resides in the actual way the email appears. Theurer says it must be mobile responsive and if it isn’t, customers might think it is spam, which could lead to unsubscribes. Email must also start to include enhanced data, content and personalization. It is no longer enough to send the same promotional emails to everyone, you have to send to customers based on their preferences or purchase history to make the most impact. At two different points of the spectrum, Theurer also advises sending a welcome email to new subscribers and feedback surveys to converted ones. This closes the loop and helps customers feel they have a role in your journey creation. Finally, if you do lose a customer to an unsubscribe, it may not always be for a bad reason, says Theurer. Consider adding social media icons on unsubscribe pages because that customer may be simply discontinuing an email address or wanting to follow along in a different way.
By following these tips from Boyer and Theurer when it comes to building a customer journey, you aren’t guaranteed success with customers, but you just may be further down the path.