Everyone has their own unique journey to get to a purchase, visit, or an activity. This ‘customer journey’ brings a person with his questions, problems, needs, or opportunities for improvement via several phases to you, the problem solver. But how do you identify these phases, and what does your target group encounter? In this blog, we’ll walk you through the customer journey and experience how you can offer the exact things your target group is longing for.
What do I need to pack for my journey?
In an earlier blog, we’ve told about laying the focus on the customer and taking your customers further than a purchase. But before people actually buy something from you, they complete a whole journey in which they encounter several questions, problems, or opportunities. Marketers know this journey as the customer journey or the buyer’s journey. But not every organization focuses on customers making a purchase. The travel business focuses on guests, museums focus on visitors, dental clinics on patients, and so on. That’s why we call the customer journey, the ‘experience journey’. Because every target group is unique, and in the end, it’s all about creating an experience.
Within the experience journey, your target group goes through several steps that are identical to the funnels you use in your strategy. The only difference is that these steps are seen from the customer’s perspective: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Experience, and Promote instead of Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.
As you can see in the image above, the experience journey can be looked at from different perspectives. The first row is the journey’s stages seen from the funnel’s perspective. The second row shows the same journey but seen from the customer’s perspective. The third row shows which phases a customer goes through from the organization’s perspective, and the final row shows which department of your organization is responsible for which step in the experience journey.
In each stage of the experience journey, someone discovers he has other questions, problems, opportunities, or needs. You start with finding all the questions someone that might be interested in your organization, brand, or product may encounter. You can use multiple tools for this:
- Google suggest: When you use Google to search for your keywords - words you want to be found on in search engines - Google shows suggestions that are linked to the used keyword. These suggestions are based on what other people have searched for.
- Google Trends: You can also use Google Trends to see how popular your keywords are, and shows suggestions you can add to your keywords.
- Answer the public: Answer the public is a convenient tool that shows all the questions someone can have when searching for your keyword. These questions are based on items that have been searched for in search engines like Google.
After you’ve written down all the questions, you can think of which touchpoints (moments when a customer gets in contact with your company) your target group has in each stage. On what platform or activity do they get insights? How and where does someone try to find the answer to his questions? These are your touchpoints.
In the end, each phase should look somewhat like this:
In the Awareness stage, someone is aware of a potential problem or opportunity.
- Questions: Questions someone has in this stage are, for example, ‘how do I solve problem X?’ or ‘how do I improve Y?’
- Touchpoints: In this stage, people are using social media and search engines like Google to get more information. So they can define their problem more clearly.
In the Consideration stage, that same person is more aware of his question and clearly defined it.
- Questions: Questions like ‘what are the best solutions for X?’ and ‘what are the benefits of solution Y?’ show up.
- Touchpoints: Because the problem or opportunity is clearly defined, a person searches more specifically for the solution. He visits websites, goes to exhibitions, and subscribes to newsletters to get to know more about an organization and their solution.
The Decision stage is the stage where someone has clearly defined his/her strategy, method, or approach.
- Questions: In this stage, that person has problems like ‘what are the delivery conditions of X?’ and ‘how is the service of agency Y?’.
- Touchpoints: In this step, the customer immerses himself even more. He knows the organizations and solutions and wants to consider them to find the best solution. He does this by having 1 to 1 contact with someone inside the organization, visiting events, taking a good look at the websites, and reading the newsletters.
After that, he uses his strategy, method, or approach in the Experience stage.
- Questions: Questions someone has in this stage are ‘how do I use X?’ or ‘which support can I use?’
- Touchpoints: The user is looking for the user manual and support, which can be found in his online portal.
Finally, in the Promote stage, someone is so enthusiastic about the solution that he wants to tell others about it.
- Questions: The questions in this stage are like ‘how can I reorder X?’ and ‘where can I find support?’.
- Touchpoints: Finally, the user wants to know more about the solution, and this is your chance to offer the best service possible. Your service team can turn a customer into a promoter.
In each stage, there are several questions on which you, as an organization, have to offer the solution. And each step, your approach should be different. You have to create unique content in each stage so that you can help your target group through their journey. For this, you can get started with content mapping. But before we get started with creating content that appeals to every unique person, it’s crucial to segment your target group and create personas.
Of course, the journey you’ve read about earlier is the ideal situation. But not every person goes through the experience journey the same way. It’s essential to keep in mind that every person is unique, and therefore has its own questions, problems, and needs. To know what every segment of your target group is looking for, you need to create a persona.
A persona is a fictive person that represents your target group or a part of it. You can use several methods to create your persona. You can create one based on your knowledge and experience you’ve had with this focus group, for instance, and use statistics. A helpful tool to use is HubSpot’s persona tool: https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona.
At Sterc, we always use Myers Bridge Type Indicator (MBTI) and the BSR model to create personas. With MBTI, you get insight into someone’s behavior, based on four personality characteristics. You can appeal to more emotional people by creating more humanistic content, and show factual people more facts, figures and statistics. That’s how you create marketing propositions that appeal to everyone. In another blog, we’ll tell you more about creating a persona.
Content & functionalities mapping
Now that you’ve envisioned your focus groups better, you can get started with content mapping. Content mapping is, as HubSpot describes it, a process in which content is planned in a thoughtful, nuanced way, where you consider the amount of awareness of each persona. We’ve created a template to help you get started with content mapping. You can download this template here.
Stop selling, start helping
The experience journey runs parallel to your funnels - the foundation of your strategy. With this, the experience journey is also identical to the flywheel, which puts the customer first. With this flywheel, you notice that every department of your company has to work together to help the customer, patiënt, guest, or visitor in the best way possible.
The starting point for this is: stop selling, start helping. A sale does not have to take place immediately, or yield the most. When you work on creating a long term collaboration, your customer will think of you and the service you offer, when searching for something. He’ll tell his friends and colleagues all about your organization. That’s how you can recycle invested energy.
To show you how the funnels, flywheel, and the experience journey coincide with each other, we’ve created a more extensive model based on HubSpot’s flywheel.
The outer ring shows the experience journey from the funnel’s perspective. You attract people, let them convert, close the deal, and turn your customers into real promoters, so invested energy doesn’t have to go to waste. The second ring focuses on the stages of the experience journey, which we talked about in this blog. The third ring is the different stages a customer goes through before, during, and after a purchase, visit, or activity. Finally, the inner circle shows how the various departments work together to help the customer through the experience journey.