April 23rd 2018

Why the Customer Journey Matters

Image Dylan Touhey

The purchase funnel is no longer linear. Today's customer journey—from consideration to caring—is circular and chalked full of micro-interactions.

B2C consumers require at least 8 positive interactions (touchpoints) before making a purchase decision, while B2B customers require upwards of 12.

And it doesn't stop there! After purchase, top brands generate 17 positive interactions for every negative one to retain those customers.

All of these interactions occur across the 4 stages of the customer journey.

  1. Consideration
  2. Evaluation
  3. Purchase
  4. Caring

No single piece of content or advert is enough to propel a prospective buyer to action.

Content across the customer journey

To propel prospects down the customer journey, brands must plan and design content and campaigns that capture interest and establish trust at every interaction. This is achieved by understanding your customer, mapping the customer journey and carefully planning content to meet the needs of prospects as they progress towards a purchase decision.

In the first two stages of the customer journey, the prospect is considering and evaluating your product. Here the prospect is initially intrigued by emotion, then later convinced by rational facts as they compare your product or service to the competition.

After purchase, their decision is constantly validated by further positive interactions with your brand. As a result, these positive emotions cause them to share your brand outwards with their friends.

To achieve top status and beat the competition, brands must use content and campaigns to deliver positive emotion and help the prospect rationalize their decision at all points of the customer journey.

Brands can do this by mastering both pull and push interactions. All content can be categorized into one of these two buckets:

Pull interactions are depicted by the solid color arrows in the diagram above. Pull interactions draw potential customers towards your site by leveraging search engines, social media, videos, blogs, reviews, emails, podcasts, curated content feeds and ad campaigns. Pull interactions drive the prospect to the stages of consideration (1), evaluation (2) and purchase (3) points in the customer journey as depicted in the customer journey diagram above.

By contrast, push interactions occur when a happy customers shares their experiences with your brand at the caring (4) point of the customer journey. Caring is essentially advocacy. Satisfied customers push their experiences with your product and brand to their social networks, leave positive reviews, and refer friends. Caring decreases churn while simultaneously increasing lifetime value.

The next phase of marketing

In order for prospects to be drawn to your brand and for customers to share your brand with others, they need engaging content, not mass amounts of advertisements thrown in their faces. This is the future of higher quality relationships with brands.

We are seeing a shift away from quantity to quality. Within the next five years, we anticipate investment in ad impressions going down. Instead, marketing budgets will go towards brand experiences.

Shar Van Boskirk, Principal Analyst, Forrester

According to Google, quality content is helping consumers select brands.

There's good news when it comes to your consumers sharing content. Recent research indicates that 90% of consumers actually welcome useful and entertaining content and campaigns from brands that can establish credibility and trust. This is welcome news for digital marketers in a world where 50% of US adults actively avoid unsolicited ads on websites and the average click-through rate is less than 0.35%.

In a world of search algorithms

Google understands the importance of relevant and timely information and is rewarding sites with higher positions on the search results page if its content meets the the user's query, proximity and intent. This is especially true for mobile searches where brands begin to pull prospects towards them in the consideration stage.

On the social side where consumers turn for evaluation in the second stage of the journey, Facebook and LinkedIn are no different. Videos, photos and updates that generate higher views, clicks and shares receive disproportionately more exposure. In short, search engines and social media sites are constantly adapting their algorithms to surface the most relevant content for users.

The next wave of persistent personal assistants like Alexa and Google Home will follow suit. Brands who can design and position meaningful and engaging content will be rewarded.

The end result is a more organic (pull) traffic which reduces customer acquisition costs.

What's in it for you?

By positioning useful and entertaining content and campaigns across the entire customer journey, brands can increase revenue by 15%, decrease acquisition costs by 20% and increase repeat purchases by as much as 50%.

It’s no wonder that the #1 focus for CMOs in 2018 will be interactive content and visual storytelling (source: SiriusDecisions 2017 Global CMO Study.)

What's your focus for 2019?

Categories: ALL, Marketing

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