“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson’s words may be inspirational for getting the most out of life. But he wasn’t talking about making a sale! And that’s the primary destination every response marketer has their eye on. If you don’t help customers along their journey, they too often lose their way, lose interest, or get distracted by a competitor. In many ways, it’s the key difference between Advertising and Response Marketing – between making consumers aware of a service and its benefits, and attracting them to become leads and closing the sale.
Q1. ARE THERE COMMON MYTHS OR MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT CUSTOMER JOURNEYS?
A. Yes. When you say “customer journey” people think “Okay, that’s nice to know, but what am I going to do with this information?” It’s not enough just to know what your customers are doing; you need to use that information to craft a marketing plan to convert those individuals. You need to evaluate and use each touch point and data point at your disposal to serve the correct message to each individual at the right time to direct them toward the action you desire. A customer journey can be the first step to your action plan to drive leads and convert sales.
Q2. WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR MARKETERS TO KNOW THE PATH(S) TO ENGAGEMENT AND PURCHASE?
A. Only when you uncover the paths your customers take, do you know how and when to engage with them at particular touchpoints, and encourage them to convert. If you don’t know this information, you’re putting plans together in a vacuum. Without knowing where your customer converts — and their motivation — you’re just taking a shot in the dark to see if your message works. Spending money on a hope and a prayer. Not a great way to market, right?
Q3. WHEN DOES THE JOURNEY START? DOES IT END?
A. Each customer starts their individual journey in the awareness stage. Often, they are not even on your radar at this point. They may drive past a billboard, or notice your business on social media. You do not necessarily have the names of these individuals nor specifically targeted them, but the content you put out to the masses attracts a broad range of prospects. And where do people go to learn more about a product? Right to a company’s website. This is where they’ll start their own research, which sparked them to become more aware of your product (i.e., right messaging at the right time). The next question, which only you can answer: Is this the very best starting point to welcome them, embrace their interest, and urge them forward?
In terms of an “ending,” ultimately, you want your customers to evolve into advocates. But the “journey” doesn’t stop there. Even when someone becomes an advocate, there is a cycle in which this individual uses the product and talks about you and your product to their peers.
Also, even if someone drops off in the middle of an established customer journey, you gain valuable insights (assuming you’ve set up the right tracking for the right metrics). Use those insights to better the journey, by taking a closer look at your touch points and messaging. You’ll move more customers through the journey and avoid drop offs in the future.
Q4. THERE ARE MULTIPLE PATHS ON THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY. ARE SOME ROADS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OTHERS?
A. Overall we have “core” response marketing tactics to drive the best lead volume or best conversion that contribute to the customer journey. However, one is not necessarily more important than another. More than ever, we see various mediums complement each other and work together (e.g., DRTV, direct mail, digital). If one of the tactics go “dark,” the other channels are affected by that absence. Also, people are different and every one of us responds in various ways. So it’s important to have a “surround sound” approach to your marketing plan. You may have more dollars attributed to mediums that continue to work best for you, but it’s very important to include multiple ways, different options, for individuals to contact you and engage with your brand. Otherwise you may be missing out on various segments of your potential total audience.
Q5. WHAT CAN MARKETERS DO TO HELP CUSTOMERS ALONG THE JOURNEY?
A. Provide multiple touch points with the customer in order to pace them along the journey. It’s important to have simple, clear messaging that the customer can identify with, and to use the different mediums to establish and nurture customer relationships. It’s not enough just to send them a direct mail piece; you need to have a landing page with a clear action for them to take (i.e., sign up for an email, download an asset). Or to have a landing page and search program, without mail (oCustomer Journey - help them get there themsevesr other paid media) to draw passive consumers to your URL. And in all cases, you need to move them from the home page to the next touch point within the website. You also need agents on the phone, in chat, or responding to email and social media inquiries who can answer questions if a prospect is unsure what to do next.
Q6. SHOULD THE JOURNEY FEEL … COMFORTABLE?
A. Absolutely. Don’t let people feel they’re being led. Help them feel they are getting help to arrive where they need to go on their own … in their own way. That’s why multiple paths are so vital. And why it’s important to have a clear CTA on each marketing piece to aid in getting them to the point they’ll want to go to next. Also, once the first action is taken (email sign up or asset download, for example), make it easy for them to reach the next phase — which could be leading them deeper into your website to learn more about your brand — and establish the customer relationship.
Q7. ATTRIBUTION – WHAT IS IT AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
A. Attribution is a frequent pitfall along the journey for many marketers. It is often difficult to pinpoint due to the growing complexity of the marketing mix (both on and offline). What drove a sale? What tipped someone from being merely curious … to being a valid prospect? Understanding all your customers’ journeys will help you know what’s driving leads and business your way, so you know where to best place your dollars and efforts.
Q8. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO INFLUENCE THE DECISION TO BUY?
A. There are things we can do to dramatize advantages for prospects: Go beyond ordinary features and expected benefits. Create a sense of urgency. Demonstrate how the cost of doing it outweighs the cost of not doing it (or going with someone else). Value propositions can’t be buried, hidden, or held back to reveal later on.
Put your product or service in context for the buyer. Think of alarm systems. Successful response marketing won’t say: “We sell alarm systems. Give us a call if you’re interested.” Instead, an ad shows an unlit house at night with someone creeping up the walkway, but then stopped in their tracks because they saw an ADT sign on the window. Make people feel they need your service. Maybe add extra incentive by throwing in stats indicating that crime rates have gone up in recent years.
Evaluating consumer needs and motivations and crafting a high-performing customer journey has many moving parts. And, like individual consumers, there are different paths for different products, services, and companies. There is an investment in time and money. But that “market journey” pays off in rewards that will be well worth your effort!
Not sure about your customers’ journeys? We can help you avoid an arduous experience and ensure that the path is smooth – and direct.