The average customer now takes a long time to consider a purchase — over 40 percent of customers take four months or longer before the buy. So how does your business best navigate this reality?
And what can you do to improve the experience so more people end up buying from you?
As customer experience professionals, we know that the most important thing to focus on is customer success. Whether that means helping to find a product they like or solving their customer service issues, it’s all about providing positive experiences.
Buying something online can be daunting. There are so many choices, and it can take hours to decide what to purchase. Not only that, but customer reviews, customer ratings, product descriptions, and customer images all contribute to the amount of friction in the customer’s buying journey. If you want your customers to have an enjoyable experience across your stack of properties — website, social platforms, app, or in-store— then you need to simplify their process as much as possible.
This process is never easy. In today’s fast-paced world, it can be challenging to keep up with the changing demands of your customers. It seems like every day new technologies are emerging that have the potential to disrupt everything from how you communicate with them to what they want in a product or service and how they interact with your brand.
To help make sense of it all, I’m going to share some insights on how we’ve found success in by focusing on one key idea: The customer journey is never-ending!
The Five Essential Steps
Brands must be able to adapt marketing strategies quickly enough to stay relevant in a fast-paced world, or else will fall behind. What used to be a default route to acquire and nurture customers has been rendered obsolete with rapidly developing technologies.
For you to achieve stellar customer experience, you need to rethink the customer journey.
Instead of focusing on the back-end customer service process and after-sales support, marketers should be spending more time upfront helping customers make informed decisions.
To help simplify this customer’s buying journey, start by looking at frictionless interactions with them throughout their purchase cycle. Identify, where unnecessary, steps that can be eliminated from their process and reduce any friction they might encounter along the way.
Here are five essential steps to master for exponential growth and customer success:
1. Map out your customers’ entire buying journey, no matter how complex.
Guide your customers through the convoluted buying journey with the most challenging decisions.
The customer decision-making process is complex. There are many factors involved, such as price, brand recognition, quality of features, availability, etc., all of which contribute toward whether or not someone buys your products or services.
You should track customer buying journeys to provide an overall customer experience. It may sound intuitive, but I’ve seen numerous brands overlook this critical foundational step.
2. Design cross-channel marketing campaigns using marketing automation software.
In today’s digital landscape of social media and mobile apps, weaving a colorful crochet of cross-channel campaigns can be an overwhelming challenge for brands— but it doesn’t have to be.
With the anticipated phasing out of cookies as platforms become more privacy-focused and customer data becomes more fragmented, cross-channel marketing has become more necessary.
Marketing automation software provides multi-channel automated customer segmentation, which allows marketers to tailor their messaging in the moment of need. This, in return, leads to increased conversions.
3. Nurture leads and build long-lasting relationships that drive sales.
Leads should be nurtured as they enter your marketing funnel, for they aid in building a long-lasting relationship that could drive sales. A customer’s first impression of your brand can be the deciding factor on whether or not they will become a returning client.
Potential customers are more receptive to marketing messages earlier in their visit, so it is vital for marketers who care about long-term sustainable success to make sure every lead feels welcomed and valued from the point that they enter through your virtual or physical door.
4. Offer personalized content tailored for each customer segment.
Understanding which customer needs come first will help ensure that all their informational and transactional requirements can be met within one brief interaction — saving time for both parties involved.
One great way to ensure that every customer’s informational needs can be met before making a purchasing decision is by providing personalized content tailored specifically for each customer segment—different messaging geared toward prospects in various stages of the buying process. Getting information right when it comes time to make an offer can greatly help close sales faster and catapult your customers into repeat customers with greater customer lifetime values (CLTVs).
Personalizing your messages will create a more memorable customer experience that will resonate with your customers on every channel at all stages in their buyer’s journey. You’ll be able to keep them updated about changes or new products without having to worry about creating too many variations and different campaigns.
5. Track your marketing’s effectiveness to advance path to growth and drop approaches that don’t pay dividends.
If you can’t measure it, then it doesn’t exist.
Armed with data and a keen eye, marketing teams can test their ideas to identify what works. They should then focus on those approaches that produce measurable while eliminating strategies that don’t work or have stopped working for them.
It is one thing to have the tools at your disposal, but it’s another to know how they work best for your brand and which ones will help grow the business in ways that make sense given what you currently do well.
This way of thinking about marketing allows brands to prioritize scarce hours, money, and other resources to quickly pivot toward areas of growth.
So, how does this all work together?
The buying journey is never linear.
There are many factors that influence a customer’s decision to purchase, and marketers must account for each one of them if they want to master the customer experience.
That means tracking and measuring customers’ entire buying journey, no matter how complex it may be— from first contact with your company all the way through conversion or purchase. It also means designing and automating cross-channel marketing campaigns so you can target different audiences at just the right time in their lifecycle stage based on where they are in the pipeline.
This will ensure optimum return on investment by nurturing leads and building long-lasting relationships that drive sales while making sure not every dollar spent on advertising goes to waste when something isn’t working out.
Hany Anbar is ECU’s Director of Data Analytics and Customer Experience. Contact us to learn more about your customer’s journey.