Central to any marketing strategy is the customer journey. This journey involves each step a customer takes in deciding where to make a purchase or schedule a service.
While most businesses are well aware of the customer journey, too few are harnessing the power of digital marketing in reaching customers in a personalized and targeted way.
Today, we will look at why the customer journey matters so much, how you can use highly targeted digital marketing strategies to reach your customers based on where they are in their journey, and what benefits you’ll reap from doing so.
The customer journey has to be central to any marketing strategy for one simple reason: without understanding where your customers are on their purchasing journey, you will be incapable of providing them with the right information.
To use a simple example, if customers are at the earliest stages of the purchasing journey, and they are simply looking for some basic information about potentially buying a new Toyota, then they're probably not going to click on an ad asking them to visit a dealership to make their purchase today.
Instead, it would have been better for that dealership to have created an ad showcasing a few basic pieces of information, inviting them to learn more about the process of purchasing a car. This might entice them to click through and begin their initial stage of interest with that dealership.
In short, the customer journey is the framework that should inform all marketing strategies.
While the customer journey is nothing new, businesses’ ability to target customers throughout the journey with highly personalized messaging has increased dramatically with the rise of digital marketing.
Today, savvy businesses can use detailed data sets to reach their customers throughout their decision-making process. This journey can be broken down into three critical stages:
- Awareness: Your customers are just beginning to research a product or service. They are interested but are looking for basic information.
- Consideration: After building a desire for a product or service, your customers are now focused on finding out more detailed information.
- Decision: In this last stage of their journey, your customers are ready to decide where they will purchase a product or schedule a service. They usually have a few final hang-ups or concerns and are weeding out their options.
For a digital marketing strategy to be successful, it must take a detailed approach to reach customers across each stage. Let’s take a deep dive into what makes a successful digital strategy for each of the three stages of the customer journey.
During the initial awareness stage, your customers are starting to ask questions. They are looking for the following types of information:
- What is this product or service? Think basic details and broad searches.
- Where can I get this product or schedule this service? The customer is starting to gauge the convenience of making the purchase or scheduling the service.
- What will this product or service cost? Price is a critical component of awareness. A customer will only start to move into the consideration stage if the price point appears feasible.
During the awareness stage, reaching your customers via digital marketing is critical. This is your first chance to influence their thought process and to secure your brand as an option. According to recent research, 87 percent of shoppers begin product searches via digital channels.
It is also worth noting that customers use multiple channels to perform their initial research during the awareness stage. This includes everything from typing a search query into Google to chatting with online agents via business’ websites.
Awareness Digital Marketing Musts:
- Clear product or service information: This should include any technical data on a product or service.
- Simplicity in information: During awareness, customers aren’t diving deep. They are simply beginning to think about a purchase. Make sure that the information you provide is simple and easy to digest.
- Targeted ads: Because awareness is your first shot at reaching a customer, make sure that any ads you have going are highly targeted. It is important for the customers to immediately feel like you already know who they are and what interests them.
Once customers have passed through the awareness stage and have built a desire for a product or service, they reach the consideration stage.
Here, customers are looking to dive deep into research. This is when the bulk of comparison between options takes place and when customers are most focused on whether a product or service will meet the need they are looking to solve.
During consideration, a customer is looking for the following types of information:
- What is included with this product or service?
- How does this product or service compare against similar products and services?
- What are my customization options?
- Will this fit my specific needs?
Once again, reaching your customer through digital channels is a must at this stage. At this point, customers will be looking for a more robust digital interaction with your brand. They might be reaching out via chatbots to ask questions. They might be browsing your online inventory or perusing your service pages to see whether what you are offering is a good fit.
Consideration Digital Marketing Musts:
- Virtual representation of a product: If you are selling a product, make sure there is a way for your customer to interact with it virtually. This could be through 360° rotations of products, through video walkthroughs, or through a video chat walkthrough with a sales representative. During this consideration stage, your customer wants a tactile experience.
- Detailed data: As your customers consider your product or service against others in the same vertical, data comparison will influence a big part of their decision-making. Provide detailed and accurate data. Analyze where your competitors are leaving a gap, and fill it with better, more robust data.
- Easy channels for communication: During the consideration stage, your customers might want to talk to a representative about specific details. Make sure it is easy for customers to reach you via chat, phone, text, and social media messengers. Never leave a customer waiting for an answer during this critical stage.
The final stage of the customer journey is the decision-making stage. At this point, customers are determining what company they will purchase a product from or schedule a service with. They have gathered data, they have compared and contrasted, and now, all that is left is to decide.
It is at this stage that emotion plays the biggest role. Emotional information becomes every bit as valuable as technical data.
During the decision stage, customers are looking for the following types of information:
- How will I feel if I purchase this product or go with this business?
- Do I trust this brand?
- Do I identify with this brand?
- What will this business’ customer service be like?
It is now about more than selling a product or service. It is about selling an experience, a benefit, and a connection with your business.
During this stage, your digital marketing strategy should focus on associating positivity with your brand. It should be about creating an atmosphere that is welcoming and encouraging.
Decision Digital Marketing Musts:
- Trustworthy information: One of the best ways to stand out during the decision-making stage of the customer journey is to become a trusted source of information. Ensure that any information you are providing is accurate and meaningful. This is a great opportunity for thought leadership as well. If you are selling a product, what helpful articles could you publish around this product that would provide extra trust in your brand?
- Brand engagement: Now is the time to showcase your brand’s best attributes. Do you give to a charity that this customer cares about? Target an ad that showcases this information. Are you highly respected in the community? Draw potential clients to your testimonials page.
- Meaningful interactions: A personal touch goes a long way during the decision-making stage. People are looking for a connection and a reason to choose one business over another. Take time to reach out to customers, whether that is via text, chat, phone call, or email.
Reaching customers along their journey is a complex but important process. In today’s world, customers expect a highly personalized experience every step of the way.
With the right data, you can build a targeted campaign that considers what stage your customer is in before serving that customer an ad.
A data-driven approach can do all of the following:
- Target customers at specific stages, changing what information is provided based on the needs of that stage.
- Surface information relevant to that customer, taking into account what preferences and interests they have.
- Retarget a customer throughout the journey, leaning into the reality that many customers move between stages multiple times before making a decision.
While the digital world affords businesses a unique opportunity to target customers in a highly personalized way throughout the buying journey, it also makes marketing more complex. Harnessing the power of data is not simple. Ensuring that the data you are feeding into a marketing campaign is complicated at best.
Campaigns also need to be constantly analyzed to ensure the best spend of every marketing dollar.
At J&L Marketing, we are experts in the world of digital marketing. We have years of experience building and iterating on targeted marketing campaigns. We can help you as you target your customers based on where they are in their journey through a few key steps:
- We will work with you to determine what information is most important in your industry to your customers in each stage of their journey.
- We will help you create key messaging points around each stage of the journey.
- We will assist you in accessing the data you need to create highly targeted campaigns.
- We will work with you on an ongoing basis to adjust ad campaign spend, creating a more profitable strategy every step of the way.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can target your customers throughout every stage of their journey with personalized messaging, reach out to our team for a consultation today. We look forward to talking with you soon.