4. Map Out Buyer Touch Points
Throughout the buyers’ journey, consumers are influenced by different touch points, all of which market and sales teams need to be aware of. The path to purchase is a multi-part process involving many touch points, which can include a mix of online and offline interactions. Customer touch points is defined as all places where your customers come into contact with your brand. It could be a billboard that they drive by, the website that they visit, the email newsletter they subscribe to or even a social media account that they follow. These are all customer touch points. It’s also important to clarify that touch points can also be the places where your customers don’t come into contact directly with your brand. For example, when one of your customers is about to purchase something online, they may be directed away from your website because of poor reviews and more likely to purchase from a company that has better reviews. The effectiveness of your brand’s touch points determines how much you engage with customers. According to the article “Understanding Touch Points” by Lori Zabar, there are three types of touch points. They include:
When a customer sees or hears a message directly from your company. For example, you receive an email newsletter, or a customer service representative answers the phone.
When a customer visits a physical store or website and sees a prompt to complete an action. For example, your website displays suggestions for similar products that may interest the customer, or store associates ask if they can help the customer.
When a customer sees or hears an indirect message about a brand through advertising, but not from the company itself.
Having a clear picture of these interactions helps brands to anticipate what the buyer has already received and what the buyer needs based on where they are in their journey. Implementing mapping into your marketing strategy will help your team to be able to make informed decisions and focus their marketing resources on the right touch points in order to make conversions. In conjunction with the purchase journey, it is a complex aspect to outline as the average buyer interacts with over 40 touch points before making a purchase and that’s before taking into account all the influencers that impact the final decision. However, the earlier you can identify where your customers are and where they might go next, the better prepared you will be to engage with them and influence their purchasing decisions. For example, if you can identify that a potential customer has been searching for information about a product, you can reach out to them at this point and ask them if they have found what they were searching for and even further facilitate their choices through recommendations to ensure a sale.
5. Identify Customer Pain Points
Today’s consumers are self-reliant and tech savvy. They have high expectations and zero patience for downtime. This translates into a new set of pain points in the customer journey. As a retailer or service provider, pain points are your opportunity to touch your customers – to wake them up, grab their attention, answer their questions and ultimately drive them to make a purchase. In order to engage your customers, you need to know what their pain points are. If you don’t, you are simply wasting your time. Thinking about what your customers actually want (or need) as they interact with your business is a great place to start. Its important to ask these three questions:
What are they looking for?
What do they want?
What questions are they asking?
While it can be awkward asking customers what they see as their pain points, don’t be afraid to ask them about it. Pain points are the reason that your customers would go to the trouble of visiting your website or picking up the phone and calling. It’s the reason they reach out to you, it’s what’s on their mind. Customers will appreciate the fact that you care enough to ask them about it. Retailers and service providers often fall short when it comes to listening to their customers. In fact, a study from Forrester shows that 60% of customers believe they can’t get an answer from businesses quickly enough. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
Your pain points are what makes your company vulnerable and especially in a fast-paced world of digital distraction, customer pain points are subtle and immediate. That is why it’s important to not only simplify your brand’s value proposition but also identify the motivations and deterrents behind your customers. The right questions can take you from a bunch of assumptions to a good understanding of what’s really going on with your customers. They can help you craft an experience that aligns naturally with their needs, rather than trying to force your product or service into a type of box that it doesn’t fit into.
For example, if you offer a service, consider what your customers may be struggling with or frustrated with. For instance, if you sell goods online, consider the logistics of shipping or the complexity of returns. If you provide a physical product, think about the time and effort it might take to receive and set up their new purchase. If they are struggling with these issues, it’s likely you can solve these problems and answer important questions. If you don’t have a solution, then you should at least be able to provide a resource for them to find their answers as quickly as possible. This is an opportunity for your brand to build value and establish credibility with your prospects. Keeping better track of your customer data can also greatly help in the long-run. The more you know, the better you can target those key audiences and customer pain points via the content you produce and the channels you promote it on. Being able to alleviate some of your customer’s pain points allows your brand to more importantly resonate with their target audience in a meaningful way and thus creating a loyal community of supporters and return customers.
6. Audit Consistently to Update and Improve
Once your customer journey map starts to develop in detail, you will gain a much clearer picture of how customers view your brand and what they want to see from you. However, this definitely does not mean that it should be forgotten and left to gather dust once it’s completed. The market is constantly evolving and changing along with it are your customers and your customer journey map should be doing the same as well.
A good journey map will be simple to update and evolve over time, which is crucial if you want to utilize it as a tool that continually improves your over-all customer experience. After the initial development, it’s important to plan periodic audits and monitor your marketing efforts regularly to be able to identify opportunities for improvement.
At every iteration, your company needs to re-evaluate your current marketing funnel and plan for adjustments to be made based on the findings. This can be done by gathering feedback on how your users interact with your brand through every source of contact (main website, social media, etc.) at every stage of their customer journey. For example, you may notice that your sales process takes too long, keeping customers from making a purchase. In this case, you might introduce a new marketing channel or ad campaign that will help you shorten the sales cycle.
One of the most common approaches is to use a spreadsheet, where you would map out each step in the customer journey, as well as your brand’s activities at each step and the channels you are using for communication. Once you have identified the steps in the customer journey, you can then identify areas for improvement – what should be improved, why it should be improved and how it should be improved. You can then use these opportunities as KPIs for your future marketing initiatives.
At every stage of the marketing function, there are always chances for improvements, be it the way you acquire leads, the way you convert leads into customers, or even the way you retain customers. Make sure to take the time to evaluate what is working, what is not and what you could try next because when a customer journey is executed well it can be an important driver of revenue.
We live in an age of marketing excess. There’s too much content, too many channels and too many messages from brands that have lost sight of what really matters. The result is a loss of trust, engagement and loyalty. A simple truth has emerged from all the noise. It’s the same lesson that you learn every time you swipe your credit card or pull out your smartphone to buy something. People are no longer appealed on just being sold to anymore, consumers today would pay more for a better experience and a sense of community.
At Market Partner we believe that the fundamental of digital marketing is about developing genuine relationships and understanding people – understanding what they want, what they like and most importantly what their biggest problems are. However, we also understand the reality that customer-to-human relationships isn’t acquired overnight. It takes time to be known, trusted and respected and that’s why customer journey mapping is extremely important. We’re all aware that creating a map in itself is no guarantee that customers will stay loyal to you forever, but it does set you on the right path.