You Need to Understand the Customer Journey

Published: Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

If you wanted to take a road trip, let’s say across the USA, you wouldn’t just hop in your car one day and head off with no preparation at all. At the very least you’d get yourself a road map or a sat nav. The same logic applies to online marketing – you need a plan Stan! A good way to create a road map is to start with your typical customer profile, or what some refer to as understanding your buyer persona. So, let’s begin here.

Buyer Persona

This just means being able to describe your customer as accurately as you can. The more details you can add about them the better – age, gender, interests, problems they face etc. You need to know who your customer is to create the right digital road map that will help them find you. Put another way, you need to understand the modern digital customer journey. On that journey, there may be several points of contact the typical customer will use to find you before making their first purchase. Let’s look at some of these touch points now.

Google search

When it comes to promotion, Google search is still the number 1 touch point on the customer journey. It’s the most powerful way for businesses to target customers today. People search Google with a specific intent, they already have a developed interest in a product or service. That’s why your business needs to rank well on Google. It’s why 95% of us still use the Google search engine. Google replaced the Yellow Pages and even newspapers for many people, because it’s easy, it’s fast and for businesses willing to invest in a sound SEO strategy, it can be very effective as a first point of contact on the customer journey. Appearing on page 1 for local searches for your product or services helps drive serious traffic to your website and it is quality traffic – these are people searching for you.

Google search ads

Like Google’s search engine, their ad platform is another very powerful way to drive quality traffic to your website, particularly to your product and sales pages. Seeing as we Google so often for information on products and services it makes sense for businesses to consider Google Ads to drive even more qualified traffic to your website. Unlike radio or TV, Google does a good job matching its ads to the searcher’s query (although they don’t always get it right!). Definitely worth testing.

Display ads

Have you tried display advertising yet? You should, as these ads are another powerful way to connect with the right audience at the right time. Display ads are like search ads but contain images or play videos to create a richer experience to attract potential customers. Typical examples would be image ads with a URL link and a call-to-action message, or interactive banner ads and video ads. The ads target people based on their search history, their interests and search queries but there is also a retargeting option to target people who have previously visited your website. How great is that?

Check out DoubleClick, Google’s Ad Exchange for businesses

Social media channels

Promoting your brand on social channels is a little different. People use social networks like Facebook to connect with family and friends, not really to look for products and services. However, don’t ignore the power of social channels as a first point of contact on the customer journey. Utilized correctly, they can be a great way for businesses to connect with people and build an audience. Ipsos MRBI research shows the breakdown of social media usage in Ireland with Facebook still clearly leading the pack.

Facebook 64%
Linkedin 29%
Twitter 29%
Instagram 28%
Google+ 26%
Pinterest 19%

Chances are many of your potential customers may be using one or more of these channels on a regular basis, so don’t you think it’s worth your while to develop and test a social media strategy for your business?

Social media advertising

Another first point of contact on your customer’s journey may be an ad you take out on social media. Social media ads should not be ignored as a potential revenue driver for your business. Pay Per Click (PPC) adverts are a part of the social media landscape now and will continue to be. Social ad targeting capabilities have evolved and are now quite sophisticated. Today you can design your social ads by region, location, interests, age, gender and industry. You also have total control over your ad spend.

Email Marketing

We’ve said it before and we’re saying it again, email is still the most effective way to promote your business! People who sign up to your email list, say through a newsletter form, do so because they like your content. For them it has real value but the power of email marketing is not just the impact on your subscribers. Those subscribers may want to share your email content with others in their networks and organisation if they feel the content is relevant to them. They are all potentially new points of contact for you. For them the customer journey might just begin with that email so make it easy for your list, add share buttons to your emails.

Go to our email marketing blog to find out just how powerful email is to your customer journey.

Networking

Becoming an online influencer is another way customers will come to know about you for the first time. Linkedin is often cited as a great place to network as it has a distinctly business focused community. Sharing your expertise with insightful business articles and offering constructive comments on other people’s content, could turn into a winning lead generation strategy. Not everyone is comfortable with personal branding though. It does require a certain amount of confidence but for those of you with the knowledge and personality to pull it off, networking can act as a vital first point of contact on the customer journey.

Tip: if you are not comfortable in the influencer role you might consider nominating someone in your team. Someone you trust to deliver your brand message within your social networks.

Your business website

So, what are all these digital marketing activities and points of contact for? Well it’s not just for brand awareness! The ultimate purpose is to drive more people to your website and convert more of them into customers or leads when they get there. This may be an obvious point to some of you but for those of you who are still trying to understand internet marketing, remember that your website is the ultimate point of contact on the customer journey. Think of it as the last stop on the journey. That’s why it’s crucial to have a technically well-built website, with well-designed landing pages that make it easy for visitors to convert into customers.

Check out this web design article, it explains why professional web design is such a crucial part of the customer journey.

Call Us

So, as you can see there’s more to the customer journey than you thought but don’t panic, help is at hand! We’re a web design and digital marketing agency ready and able to help you figure out your customer journey. Get in touch with Digitaledge today.