Understanding The Customer Journey and How to Use it to Grow Your Business

What is the customer journey?

The customer journey is a series of steps a person will take, often including interaction with multiple media, that lead to a purchase and eventually customer loyalty.  Understanding this customer experience and path-to-purchase can position a company to optimize their engagement with customers at every touchpoint and lead to new sales, better customer relationships, retention, and loyalty.

There was a time in the past when the customer journey was rather simple and linear.  A potential customer would see an ad in The Keene Sentinel for a product of interest.  Over time, repeated exposures to the ad would lead to a trip to the store to buy the product.  Pretty straightforward.

With advances in technology and proliferation of media, today’s customer journey is far more complex and anything but linear.  The journey may start in a similar place, an ad in The Sentinel or www.KeeneSentinel.com might bring awareness and interest, but the journey from there is much more complicated and involves interaction with multiple media.

According to research by SalesLion, 81% of consumers conduct online research before heading out to the store to make a purchase.

Today’s consumers utilize multiple resources to inform themselves about features and options.

Consider your own experience.  You may see advertising promoting a camera that draws your interest.  From there you might go to your favorite search engine to learn more about availability and options.  You may visit the manufacturer’s website to research further.  You might visit e-commerce sites to check price comparability; review and recommendation resources to understand a company and product’s trustworthiness.  You might ask your social media network for recommendations and/or a favorite blogger or influencer for further insight. Maybe you hop onto YouTube for a demonstration on how to use the product.

What are the stages of the customer journey?

Generally, the consumer path-to-purchase moves through several stages toward purchase and loyalty. To be part of the consideration set for your potential customer, your business will need to optimize for these stages and deliver a positive customer experience:

  • Awareness: In this phase your target audience is becoming aware of available products or services that fill a need or interest.  At this stage your potential customers learn about your business (often via your website and web content), social media advertising, and influencers.  Customers are gathering information and seeking who they can trust.
  • Consideration: In this phase, ideally, a potential customer begins to consider your product and brand as a possible solution to their problem or interest. They’re now comparing your product to other available alternatives, so you need to give them a reason to continue to consider you.
  • Decision/Purchase: The customer is now ready to make a buying decision. At this stage you want to persuade the customer to purchase from you. This is where you’ll want to provide information on pricing and emphasize your positive reviews toward affirming your trustworthiness and ensure no buyer regret.  Offering e-commerce options at this stage can help seal-the-deal.
  • Retention: In this stage you’ll want to ensure a positive customer experience toward driving repeat business. It’s well known that it is far more expensive to gain new business than it is to retain existing clients.  In this stage you’ll want to maintain positive and engaging relationships with your clients.
  • Advocacy: Creating a positive experience throughout the customer journey can lead to satisfied clients, repeat business, and customers so delighted with your brand that they advocate for your company. In this stage you can extend these benefits by offering referral bonuses, loyalty programs and special deals to further encourage their support.

By understanding the customer journey, you can develop integrated multichannel marketing programs to appeal to customers throughout their journey, at every touchpoint.

Different marketing tactics work better at different points in the customer’s journey.

For example, in the Awareness stage targeted digital display advertising, social media and print advertising, and connected TV work best.  Likewise, in the Advocacy stage, targeted email including newsletters, reputation management, text marketing, and social content perform well.  Below is an infographic identifying some of the top performing media by journey stage.

Sentinel Solutions understand the customer journey and the media that comprise it.  We can develop a custom and integrated multimedia marketing program, engaging with potential customers all along their path-to-purchase, to help your business grow.

Give us a call if we can help at 603-352-5896 or e-mail to Advertising@SentinelDigitalSolutions.com.  We’re here to help you succeed.



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