How to Craft the Perfect Customer Purchase Journey in 2023
When we talk about businesses competing on the customer purchase journey, there can be no better example than the E-commerce giant, Amazon.
Amazon set the gold standard for customer experience by making the buying process as seamless as possible. It welcomes customers with a personalized homepage where you can pick up the buying journey where you last left it. It recommends products based on your past purchases or preferences.
The product pages suggest similar or related products, and delivery timelines update in real-time when you input your pin code/zip code. Customers get push notification alerts for wishlist products on sale or on the status of their order. With such convenience and rich interactions, why can we not turn to Amazon for repeat purchases? The resulting loyalty loop makes Amazon our go-to for all purchases, big or small.
Sounds like a dream come true? Well, you can make it your reality. Here’s your guide for building such a customer purchase journey!
News Flash: The Customer’s Journey has Changed (And Will Continue Changing)
Regardless of the industry, traditional marketing drew inspiration from an almost identical consumer decision journey. About a decade ago, the typical buying process followed a linear path involving stages of awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase.
The number of customers trickled down as one transitioned from one stage to another, forming an inverted triangle. Hence, the name: sales funnel.
However, digital technologies have bred a lineage of empowered customers. It has transformed the buying experience in a way that renders the “funnel” obsolete. The modern consumer journey is a flywheel with four major stages:
- Initial Consideration: Where the customer considers a set of options based on brand position and recent interactions.
- Active Evaluation: This is the customer research stage, where they analyze potential brands and add or subtract from their list of options.
- Closure: It’s when the consumer selects the brand and completes the purchase.
- Post-Purchase Customer Experience: Here, consumers experience the product/service and form an opinion or expectation. It is a critical component of modern customer journeys as it highlights the importance of post-purchase customer engagement.
While these buyer journey stages are still somewhat the same by definition, the movement is now cyclic. Modern consumers may pick up, bypass, or switch channels at any stage in the buyer journey, which adds an element of uncertainty. It also reinstates that the customer is in the driver’s seat of their journey.
Most importantly, it highlights how businesses should expand from the narrow view of making a sale to appealing to loyal customers for a steady stream of revenue. As such, brands should now take into account the different touchpoints that come into play in a customer journey as one traverses across awareness, evaluation, purchase, payment, and support. Upon identifying these critical junctures, they should embed them with value to engage and delight customers. Here’s a high-level view of some of these points of contact:
In simpler words, we have officially transitioned from product or brand-centric marketing to customer-centric marketing, with the customer experience at the heart of everything.
And for this reason, businesses should participate in customer journey mapping.
How to Build a Value-Driven Customer Purchase Journey: A Simple 6-Step Guide
We wouldn’t just ask you to carry out customer journey mapping without telling you how to do it, would we? So, here’s an easy 6-step guide to creating a customer journey map.
|Refresher: A customer journey is the sum total of a customer’s interactions with one brand after purchase.|
1.) Audit Your Existing Customer Journey
Whether you’ve planned it or not, if you have a running business, you already have a customer journey. Perhaps it lacks structure, or it’s an unofficial part of the marketing and sales playbook, but it’s there alright. What you need is to make it better.
Such an overhaul starts with a deeper understanding of the existing customer journey. Consult the internal and external stakeholders to gain insight into the hits and misses.
Your sales team and marketing team can outline the frequently occurring or high-impact pain points. They can also share actionable pointers on how you can monetize the customer journey better. Similarly, your current customers can share feedback on the roadblocks and catalysts.
2.) Establish Clear Goals and Objectives
Different customers will embark on different journeys. As such, each of these should have a clearly defined goal. Interestingly, even if the journey takes multiple forms, most organizational goals fit broadly common themes.
Driving or increasing sales is one of the most popular objectives of customer journey maps. Businesses may curate customer journeys to improve customer satisfaction, boost customer retention, nurture brand loyalty, gain market share through word-of-mouth recommendations, and more.
Quantify these goals with the right set of metrics to measure success, and you will have defined the finish line of the customer journey.
3.) Profile Different Buyer Personas
By this point, you have the consumer journey and its goal. Here’s where you connect the two with the customer personas.
If you haven’t done that already, start by segmenting your existing customers into logically linked cohorts. You could do it based on geographic, demographic, psychographic, or any other detail. Eliminate the group corresponding to the one-off sales that have no scope for brewing long-term customer loyalty.
Then, ask yourself about the remaining customer segments: what does this group’s ideal customer journey look like? How could they have found your brand? What changes in the customer journey can enhance the customer experience? What kind of marketing efforts drive the desired outcomes? What is the average customer lifecycle, and how can you elongate it?
The answer to these questions will help you match the right buyer personas with their respective journeys. More importantly, it will make you realize your target buyer personas.
4.) List and Prioritize Touchpoints
Next, note all the touchpoints for your business. It could be the inbound marketing sources like your website, social media handle, business listings, etc., or outbound campaigns like cold calling or emailing, paid advertisements, etc.
A high-level view of these touchpoints will give you a feel of the customer journey. Too many touchpoints indicate that your customer journey is overly complex, while fewer than required touchpoints will pose accessibility issues. You need to find a fine balance between the two for a perfectly optimized omnichannel customer journey.
And this is why you should prioritize the different channels. Use tools like Google Analytics to understand customer actions, intent, emotions, pain points, etc., to shortlist the touchpoints that matter. Once you have a generalized understanding, you can dive deeper through cohort analysis to categorize customer segments and map their preferences for greater success.
5.) Document the New Customer Journey
Now is when you document all your findings, observations, and strategies surrounding the customer purchase journey. Doing so will legitimize the new and improved customer journey and guide marketing and sales reps.
Skip the whiteboards or presentations and use a digital tool like MoEngage to not only document the customer journey but also implement it!
Once everything is finalized, circulate the documented journey amongst the stakeholders to obtain their input and buy-in.
6.) Test, Measure, and Update
Finally, it is time to give your buyer journey a whirl.
Step inside your customer’s shoes and recreate how every customer moves across the different stages of the buyer’s journey. Don’t just stop at a purchase; focus on the post-purchase experience until you reach advocacy.
Such an experiential assessment helps you identify opportunities and pitfalls in the customer experience. It allows you to create a truly customer-centric buying journey. Keep a watchful eye on any ongoing trends that can shape buyer’s behavior and keep making tweaks to the customer journey accordingly.
Example of the Buying Journey at Gymshark
Gymshark is the poster child of elastic purchase journeys as it skyrocketed from a single sewing machine operation to a billion-dollar international fitness wear brand status in just a decade.
For the awareness and active evaluation stages, Gymshark has built a solid online presence, especially across an assortment of social media platforms. From Instagram to Pinterest, Gymshark’s pages are nothing short of every fitness freak’s aspirations.
Once a prospect gets swept onto their website, Gymshark wastes no time in pushing some of their best products or new releases. At the same time, visitors get the opportunity to pick event- or gender-specific products.
Simply select a size for the product of your choice, and it gets added to the cart. The overlay also recommends related products that you can add with a single click. The 4-step checkout process is a breeze (you don’t even have to create an account!), and you get multiple payment options from cards to PayPal.
Finally, for the retention stage, Gymshark has a robust influencer marketing strategy that ropes in customers and prevents them from falling off their fitness goal wagon. Apart from the inspirational UGC, Gymshark’s blog addresses customer pain points, shares tips, and tricks, educates readers, features products, and even announces sales.
All of the above adds momentum to the customer journey and builds the loyalty loop.
9 Tips to Optimize the Customer Journey Map
Here are a few (data-backed) tips:
1.) KISS: Keep It Simple, Silly
The growing importance of channels like social media and live chat indicates that buyers want a faster and more convenient customer experience. Against this backdrop, a buying journey that requires customers to jump through hoops will only put them off and cause churn. So, keep the customer journeys as frictionless as possible.
2.) Customers Call the Shots
Studies find that consumers spend 45% of their buying time on independent online and offline research. This just means that by the time they connect with your sales and marketing team or visit your store, they have already made up their mind to buy from you!
Delight such customers with rich and value-loaded customer experiences that go beyond sales, and you’ll find them zipping past the customer journey checkpoints into the customer loyalty hyperloop!
3.) Become a Reliable and Empathetic Brand
Nearly 9 out of 10 potential customers refer to an average of 10.4 sources for pre-purchase research. This means that your business should carry credibility and consistency across these 10.4 sources for them to commit to their decision to purchase from you. So, focus on marketing campaigns that improve brand position and perception.
Build a solid reputation through online reviews, create content to establish authority, or dominate search engines, and come through on all your promises. After all, that’s how you get brand evangelists.
4.) Learn from Your Best Customers
65% of consumers would become long-term customers for a brand that offers consistent positive experiences throughout the buying journey. Such loyal and happy customers are a reflection that you’re doing something right throughout the customer journey.
So, give them a platform to voice their thoughts and opinions on what works and what needs work to improve business performance.
5.) Contextualize and Personalize
Nearly all successful businesses attribute customer need anticipation and corresponding assistive experiences to their growth. That’s just a fancy way of saying that they drew success from context-based personalization of customer journey flows.
The degree of personalization may vary depending on your tech stack and competencies, but make it a point to foray into this domain.
6.) Make Information Accessible
Information is value, and value is the tipping point in every buying journey. Relevant information attracts potential customers. It could be the deciding factor for customers in the consideration stage. And it is also a magnet to retain customers.
Embed the customer journey with such value-loaded micro-moments, and you will automatically boost the customer experience.
7.) A DIY Adventure
Customers on a self-led consumer journey are 147% more likely to purchase from you. Such findings accurately reflect how the customer calls the shots in the buying process.
That’s not to say that you should watch passively as the customer stumbles around blindly. Offer them a nudge now and then to help them in their quest – the way Domino’s Virtual Customer Assistant does with some common queries.
8.) Leverage Integrated Technologies
A survey discovered that 58% of participating firms had siloed data. Such a deficit resulted in a failure to pull data for customer journey improvement in 72% of organizations!
Businesses should embrace integrated technologies for customer journey orchestration to avoid losses. Whether you use a CRM or a CEP, ensure it melds with the other tools, technologies, and platforms.
9.) Update Your Marketing Media Mix
The success of digital marketing hinges on content and content features at almost every stage of the customer purchase journey. Rather than relying on a fixed set of marketing collateral for every stage, try to blend a variety of formats to keep the customer journey interesting.
Delight your customer at every touchpoint, and they’ll stick around- even beyond the waving chequered flag!
Companies should envision the customer journey as an ever-changing product, which shapes marketing efforts. According to Pareto’s principle, 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. This highlights how the customer purchase journey is the foundation of a sustainable business.
Don’t just convert prospects into customers; turn them into brand ambassadors! So, are you ready to start this adventure to optimize the customer purchase journey?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the customer buying journey?
The customer buying journey is a visual representation of the series of direct and indirect customer interactions with a brand or product, or service, typically after a purchase. It gives an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of post-purchase customer servicing, which forges the path for customer retention and brand loyalty.
What are the 4 phases of consumer purchasing?
The modern consumer purchase journey has the following four stages:
- Initial consideration
- Active evaluation
- Post-purchase experience
What are the six steps to map the customer journey?
Businesses can create a customer journey map using the following six steps:
- Audit the existing customer journey
- Establish customer journey mapping goals
- Profile different buyer personas and their needs
- List and prioritize the different customer touchpoints
- Document the new customer journey map
Test, measure, and upgrade the buying journey
How is a customer purchase journey different from a buyer’s journey?
A buyer’s journey entails how an individual goes from a lead to a paying customer. On the other hand, the customer purchase journey is more about the loyalty loop requiring businesses to prioritize post-purchase servicing to attract and retain loyal customers.