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  • Writer's pictureGeorgina

Why the customer journey is the key to getting inside your customers’ heads (Part 1)

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

As far as I’m concerned, thinking about the customer journey is the ultimate hack to working out the right marketing tactics to reach your audience.


What is a customer journey?


The customer journey consists of the different steps that your customers take when they interact with you. This is right from the very first time they become aware of you, to becoming your biggest fan and shouting about you from the rooftops. Using this framework to think about your customers enables you to follow them along step by step and make sure that you’re addressing their needs precisely at each point.


There are a couple of different models for thinking about what a customer journey looks like, and it can also overlap with the sales or purchase funnel (something you might have heard of too). The problem with the sales funnel is that it ends with someone buying something – but as we well know, the customer’s relationship with a company doesn’t just end with the first purchase they make. You might want them to make repeat purchases, or to have a long-term financial relationship with you. So, a good customer journey thinks beyond the initial point of purchase.


If you start looking at different customer journey models, they can get very complicated as people break them down finer and finer. They can also turn into different conceptual shapes like HubSpot’s flywheel approach or the bowtie. I try to take a common-sense approach and work out the number of stages that are useful enough for me as a starter to differentiate between the stages, without causing headaches. Let me show you what I mean:


Part 1 of the customer journey – Customer acquisition


The first step is to think about your prospects, from the first moment that they realize they have a problem.

Attract

Nurture

Convert

  • Attract: At this point, your prospect knows they have a problem, but they don’t know what the solution is. They’re problem-aware but not solution-aware

    • You need them to find you and understand that you can solve their problem.

  • Nurture: Here your prospect knows there are different kinds of solution available, but hasn’t decided between them.

    • You need them to understand how you are different from the other solutions out there

  • Convert: Finally, your prospect knows that you and your competitors have the solution they want and must choose between them.

    • You need to convince them that you are THE answer to their problem.

This model is simplified, and prospects can sometimes sit in the nurture area for a long time before making a decision. At the end of this journey, ideally, your prospect will have bought something. And that sets them off on a whole new journey.


Part 2 of the customer journey – Customer retention


Now they are your customer, and you want them to love you and buy more from you. This is what this journey can look like:

Adopter

Loyalist

Advocate

  • Adopter: Your customer has bought something. They might not yet be 100% certain that they did the right thing.

    • You want them to feel really good about the investment they’ve made

  • Loyalist: They are a loyal customer. They feel good about buying from you and are open to continuing the relationship

    • You want to encourage them to buy again or buy more – it’s time to upsell or cross-sell

  • Advocate: They love you; they love your offering and wouldn’t buy anywhere else.

    • You want to encourage them to spread the word about you and help you find more loyal followers

Some people might never make it to advocate and that’s ok. You just need to understand where customers are so that you know what they need next.


Part 3 - the whole customer journey


Putting these two sides together gives us the entire journey and with that understanding of the stages, it can become really useful:

Customer acquisition


Customer retention

​Attract

Nurture

Convert

Adopter

Loyalist

Advocate

​Where they are

Your prospect knows they have a problem, but they don’t know what the solution is.

Your prospect knows there are different kinds of solution available, but hasn’t decided between them.

Your prospect knows that you and your competitors have the solution they want and must choose.

Your customer has bought something. They might not be 100% certain that they did the right thing.

They feel good about buying from you and are open to continuing the relationship.

They love you, they love your offering and wouldn’t buy anywhere else.

What you need to do

You need to help them find you and understand that you can solve their problem.

You need them to understand how you are different from the other solutions out there.

You need to convince them that you are THE answer to their problem.

You want them to feel really good about you and their decision.

You want to encourage them to buy again, or buy more.

You want to encourage them to spread the word about you.

Once you have this framework you can start thinking in detail about your customers at every stage. Here are some things you can think about that will help inform not only which marketing tactics you choose, but the tone and content of them too.


Questions to ask yourself:

  • What their situation is – What has happened to create this problem that you can solve?

  • How they’re feeling – Are they scared, worried, or angry? People are just big balls of emotion that think rationally sometimes, so knowing how they’re feeling with help you approach them in a way they’ll be receptive to.

  • Where they spend their time – What marketing channels do I need to use to reach them? Are they Googling their problem? Are they in forums asking questions?

  • What they’re consuming – What are they reading/watching/listening to?

  • What you want them to do next – Do you want them to visit your website or give you a call?

  • What you need to do to help them move forward – What is the best call to action to make them do what you want? Is it a link to your website, or a phone number?

I like this sequence of questions because it helps me draw a direct link between what the person needs to what I should do to influence them. This blog has already ended up being longer than I thought it would so I’m going to leave it there and go into more depth about the appropriate marketing channels, tactics, and types of content for each stage next time.


I hope this helped demystify the customer journey a bit and please let me know if you have any questions! Keep an eye out for the next installments.





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