As marketers, we know that everything affects the bottom line. Attracting and retaining customers – as efficiently as possible – can help you achieve a high ROI.
Similar to plots of great adventures, a customer goes though certain stages in their buying process. In order for your marketing to affect the customer purchasing decision you have to understand the complete journey they are on. This may be similar to an easy stroll near Minnehaha Falls, or it may be more like a grueling trek along the Superior Hiking Trail.
Fortunately, there has been a resurgence on customer engagement thanks to new technology. From digital marketing, marketing automation and e-commerce technology to content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM), and customer service technology, business marketers today have a wide range of technology tools to streamline and make sense of your customers’ journeys.
A better understanding of each phase of the standard customer journey, which unites your marketing, sales and customer service functions, can help you increase qualified marketing leads—and also improve your customers’ experiences, and ultimately, increase revenue. What marketer doesn’t want that?
Let’s take a look at the different stages of the customer journey and the technology tools that can help you guide your customers along the way to the summit – that moment they decide to buy.
Phase 1: Identify Needs
During this first stage of the customer journey, prospects have realized their need and have begun to research next steps. Online marketing efforts with the technology to track Web traffic and time on site can help you guide their journey.
Here, when prospects have a better understanding of their problem and possible solutions, give them reasons to engage with you. Learning how they like to engage is key. For example, 80 percent of business decision makers prefer to get information in a series of articles versus an advertisement, according to a Roper Public Affairs study. Skip the hard sell and equip back and forth relationship building through quality content marketing.
Phase 3: Nurture Prospects
Your leads now know how you can provide solutions to their problems, but how will you convince them to act? They need reasons to believe in what you’re selling, so keep potential customers engaged through marketing automation to stay top of mind.
Phase 4: Close Sales
This phase is all about nurturing leads to help close the sale. Make it easy for your sales team by giving your consumer everything they need – from detailed information to free trials and coupons – to have confidence in your product or service.
Everyone likes to have his or her expectations exceeded, but despite the institutional bias, not all companies know what their customers want. Earn their undying devotion by knowing their needs, preferences and buying habits. After all, it’s 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).
Phase 6: Create Advocates
You’ve finally reached the summit – you have gained a customer, but it’s not over yet! Take advantage of the marketing and technology tools that can help you turn your customers into brand advocates that’ll help you receive referral business.
Case Study: Setting Up a Customer Journey
Currently at RBA, we are helping a Minnesota-based client discover its own customer journey. While not an easy endeavor, it’s worth the effort. The customer, a software vendor, is in phase 1 (identify needs). We’re in the process of launching a new website that allows for more effective marketing efforts with a marketing automation tool to help generate and nurture leads more efficiently. In the near future, a CRM with lead scoring will be implemented to improve the sales process – a large leap from simply finding a list once a month and emailing an offer. After the full customer journey is set up, our client will have the ability to target customers with the right message at the right time – a potentially huge impact on its bottom line.
When undertaking the arduous task of navigating the customer journey, remember that having a good partner – someone that challenges you along the way – is key. You don’t have to go through it alone. Take small steps and map out one process at a time. Reaching the summit takes work.
If your shoes are laced up and your bags are packed, check out RBA’s “Technology to Power Up Your Customer Journey” infographic for a complete trail map with more statistics to convince your marketing team to join you: http://www.rbaconsulting.com/bma-journey
Zack Wenthe (@zwenthe) is a Marketing Strategist for RBA focused on helping marketing departments operate smarter and more efficiently. A published author and frequent speaker, Zack is a subject matter expert on marketing resource management and marketing automation including Microsoft Dynamics Marketing.