The customer journey describes a consumer's path throughout all product, brand and company touchpoints that help enable decision making. To set the customer journey up for a win, there needs to be a clear understanding of all components involved, including target group, user behaviour, optimum channels/ content formats to use, and most importantly, the user intent at each stage of the journey.
Before mapping out your customer journey, create a detailed buyer persona. Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. They include market research and real data about your existing customers such as demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations and the goals of your customers to help you gain a stronger understanding of your target group as a collective. The more detailed you create your buyer personas, the better you'll be able to map out their journey.
Now it’s time to get to grips with audience intent and how it differs depending on the stage of the customer journey. To successfully create brand touchpoints, companies need to position themselves within the realm of the user’s browsing mode by providing content that matches the user’s expectation and intent while using certain channels. By focusing on the user intent, you can figure out the content topics and channels that will perform and convert.
Insights from your buyer persona analysis will offer clarity around how your buyers search for information. This, in turn, helps you to understand where to focus your KPIs, as well as the relevant metrics to track them. Gathering relevant performance data on touchpoints is simple with the support of the right tools. Read on to discover the top solutions that can assist you in visualizing and analyzing your customer’s journey.
The customer journey is broken down into 5 steps, as shown in the diagram below. Let’s walk through each.
1. Awareness: At this stage, the user is gathering information about solutions.
During the first step of the customer journey, the user either becomes aware of a topic or they want to know more about it. This step is defined by browsing and researching a certain subject.
74% of all B2B buying agents do their research online before deciding on a supplier. One way companies can optimise their visibility during the awareness stage of the customer journey is by practising thought leadership. Audiences often become aware of a company through content - and it’s this awareness that leads to engagement and initiates the B2B customer journey.
Since the person is looking for a solution regarding a certain issue, the content you create for this stage should focus on delivering a solution. This will help strengthen the perception of your company as a voice of authority and build trust.
Data-driven content strategies remove trial and error by telling you the topics your audience care about most. Use tools such as Google keyword planner to understand search volume and social listening to understand topic popularity as well as your audience’s key challenges.
Content form and channel for the awareness stage of the customer journey:
Top line material that explains the bigger picture and outlines the value for a specific solution are very effective during the awareness stage of the customer journey. Long-form content like blogs, ebooks, guides, educational videos, infographics, slide shares, whitepapers, social media ads, and educational industry-focused webinars work best. In terms of channels, we’d recommend investing in search engine marketing and social media (particularly LinkedIn due to its targeting capabilities) during the awareness stage.
2. Consideration: At this stage of the journey, the person is actively looking for options.
The second step is defined by the user’s intent to gather all the relevant information in order to make good decisions. The user has all the basic information about a subject already, found from step one; the consideration/ evaluation stage is about narrowing options down and comparing.
When the user is researching solutions and alternatives, they’re expecting content that offers clear options and alternatives, for example, clarity on the pro and cons. Content for the consideration stage of the customer journey needs to project clear unique selling points (USPs) since USPs help differentiate one solution from the next.
Content form and channel for the consideration stage of the customer journey:
Content formats that work well during this stage include product-specific blogs, listicles, reports, fact sheets and product-focused webinars. Search engines are a key channel to consider. Buyers can easily connect the dots between their problem and your solution through search marketing, as it delivers high-quality content that matches the request the audience is searching for.
3. Purchase: During this stage, the user is ready to make a transaction
At the transaction stage of the customer journey, it’s important to keep things as simple as possible, as not to overwhelm the customer and prevent the sale from falling through.
What the user is looking for is a transactional landing page that focuses on the product or service they want to buy. The user expects a credible and trustworthy display of all benefits they’ll gain with a transaction, usually in the form of user-generated content. It’s also useful to address purchasing barriers the user might have.
Content form and channel for the transaction stage of the customer journey:
Display retargeting and SEA (search engine advertisements) are the primary content types during the purchase stage. Avoid distractions or further content that the user has to navigate through on the transaction page. A user interface that is easy to understand and navigate, as well as trust signals like testimonials and seals of quality, make all the difference!
4. Customer Experience and engagement: During this stage of the cycle, two-way conversation is key.
Customers and prospective leads need to be kept alive. Even if the lead didn’t respond to further call to actions, there’s still an opportunity out there to reengage them. The consistency of quality content that adds value might just be what it takes to make a deal attractive again. The key is building an ongoing process through which the prospect continues to see the brand as the leading expert and best solution to their issue. At a certain point, the consideration of another brand wouldn’t make sense anymore.
Content form and channel for the customer experience and engagement stage of the customer journey:
Content that works well during this stage include customer kick-starter kits, client success stories, ‘how to’ video tutorials, user manuals and FAQ sheets. Don’t overlook the human element too, especially during the customer experience stage. Regular check ins from your account management team and invitations to exclusive events such as award dinners can have a massive impact on the consumer.
5. Customer Loyalty: What happens after the transaction?
The customer's journey should be seen as a loop, just because the transaction is complete, doesn’t mean its game over. For instance, there might be further needs that come with the product or service, like repair services or upgrades that also make sense. What the customer needs is additional content that brings awareness to more of your solutions. This also helps the customer relationship to be strengthened as your brand becomes more ingrained in their working life
Content form and channel for the loyalty stage of the customer journey:
During the loyalty stage, establishing direct communication, either in person or via LinkedIn or email is wise. Client facing newsletters are one form of content greatly adopted by brands. Exclusive access to content like product sneak peeks, asking for their participation in testing and trialling something new, and content collaboration such as joint PR efforts can also be used to show your gratitude to loyal customers. Happy customers share their positive experiences and become brand advocates who fuel the customer journey for others.
When it comes to analyzing and evaluating digital actions, there are 3 layers to consider: User factors, traffic factors and sales factors. These 3 layers can be connected directly to each stage of the customer journey since they mirror what should happen in every step:
User factors: Everything that is connected to how the user responds and interacts with the content:
Click through rate, time spent on site, subscriptions and comments are indicators for how relevant the content is. If there is no response, it’s probably because your content doesn’t hit a nerve.
Traffic factors: Everything that describes the quality of the generated traffic:
Referral traffic, lead quality, page views and unique visitors are indicators for whether or not the content appeals to the right audience. User traffic and sales-factors work in synergy, for example, there is a connection between traffic-quality and converted leads.
Sales factors: Everything that describes economic efficiency and outcome:
Converted leads, cost per lead and return on spend are indicators for the overall effectiveness of your customer journey from a revenue perspective. They ultimately tell you whether or not the strategy is profitable so you can dig deeper and find out why.
Gathering relevant data on touchpoints:
To visualize the B2B customer journey, not only does the company need to identify all important touchpoints, but they also need gather relevant data on the touchpoints. There are many different tools out there that can help you visualize your customer’s journey by collecting performance data. Here are a few of them:
The customer journey is a multidimensional road that never ends. The different layers, goals, user intents, content formats and channels require a holistic approach. Hopefully by now you have a better understanding of how to create one. If you'd like to learn more about tracking, analyzing and optimizing your buyer's touchpoints, fill out the form on this page and we'll be in touch.
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