A road with trees hanging over it and fog ahead. Used to portray the customer's journey.

Even as sales and shopping have gone primarily online this year, customers still experience questions and problems as they decide what products they want and whether or not they should buy. Consumers do their research and gather as much information as they need to either move forward with a purchase or continue looking. This is known as the customer’s journey.

Given the switch to digital over the last several months, it may be difficult to see this journey in action. However, if you can understand the steps your customers take to end up buying or passing on your products, you can gain more insight on how to market to them. That’s why today’s post is about taking a look at the customer journey online and providing some insights for your small business.

The Customer’s Journey: An Overview

Although there are a disputed number of steps in the journey, there are a few general areas that most people find themselves in when they are making a purchase:

Awareness

By identifying their need or want for a particular service, a customer will begin searching for ways to fill this. They will most likely have an idea of what they are looking for, or are just aware of what they need and are open to suggestions.

Consideration

The customer will then begin looking at their options and doing research to decide the best way to meet their need. They will begin to narrow down relevant products.

Purchase

A decision is made and the customer buys the best product to fit their need. In some cases, this can be the most delicate stage for a brand. They must make the purchasing process as simple as possible in order to ensure that the customer goes through with the sale. It will also affect whether or not the customer returns to this particular brand in the future.

Reflection

Ultimately, the customer will decide whether or not they're happy with their purchase. If the product turns out to be what they wanted and they are satisfied with their experience and treatment by the business throughout the process, they are likely to return the next time they have a need.

1. A Customer’s Journey Can Be Heightened Through Buyer Personas

Buyer personas allow you to get to know your customers and who exactly you’re targeting. By placing the focus on the customers rather than your intent to sell, you can create an overall better experience for patrons.

This will also increase brand loyalty in the long run. It’s fairly obvious when a business is more interested in selling than helping a customer. A genuine desire to give your target audience the best experience possible will help them move through the customer’s journey more quickly and keep them coming back.

So, get to know your social media followers and the people you want in your target audience. Do some research to see where it is they're spending time online and what sorts of messages resonate with them. Take note of how they prefer to interact with brands online, including within the e-commerce space. Segment your audience into groups so that you can create messages that are specific to each. They will feel like you're communicating with them on their level rather than throwing a message out into the digital world and hoping it sticks.

2. The Customer’s Journey Can Easily Be Lost In The Middle of the Process

Often, when brands are guiding customers through the journey, they are most focused on the awareness step and the purchase step. However, it is easy for customers to become disenfranchised in between these two checkpoints.

Once someone from your target audience begins to check you out, don’t rush them into making the purchase. Try to make your business as helpful as possible during the consideration phase, practicing honesty and transparency with every interaction. Again, customers want to feel like you are telling the truth and genuinely trying to help them. Selling as quickly as possible could potentially drive them away.

Show them that you’re a resource, and while you may have a bias toward your own product (anyone would expect you to), ultimately you want the customer to find their needs are met.

3. Be Present in the Customer’s Journey

This might seem like a no-brainer, but you have to be actively present and taking part in the customer’s journey in order to help the process run smoothly. This might include having multiple customer service options: both over the phone and online. You should be increasingly vigilant of direct messages and comments on social media. Any email accounts affiliated with the business should be checked regularly.

If a customer is looking for help because something went wrong on your e-commerce website, they will not wait for long before going to a competitor site. It’s important to be aware of where your customers are so that you can continually guide them forward through the journey.

As more and more people turn to online shopping through e-commerce websites and social media, it can be easy to feel isolated from the customer’s journey. You may not be able to physically meet patrons in the store to show them products and answer their questions, which may make you feel uneasy. However, there are many digital solutions to guiding people through a buying decision. If you ever need help implementing digital solutions, Vervology would be happy to help. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.