You just lost another really good potential customer. Right then, did you feel it in your wallet?
They went online to find out about your company and what they found was that you didn’t have a viable online presence. Because of that, they thought you were probably out of touch and certainly weren’t the sort of company that understood their needs. It’s a shame, too, because we both know that you are. You’ve just not had the time to maintain your website, blog or establish a social media account.
These days, being online isn’t an option or a vanity play, it’s a necessity for every sort of business. But you don’t have to go full out right away. You just have to work a little bit harder to understand your customers and their journey, then meet them where they are when they’re ready to buy.
Maybe You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
For many companies, especially those that existed before the Internet became a vital part of any marketing package, jumping into the digital realm can be like approaching a deep, dark abyss.
There might be something amazing down there, but it might also be terrifying and full of sharks. You simply don’t know. You’re not alone, there are lots of businesses like yours that are standing on the brink of the precipice of real growth. What makes you different is that you’re looking to fill in your knowledge gaps. You want to know what you don’t know.
Let’s start with a simple question: Do you know where in their journey your best customers are?
If you’re like most business owners, you either don’t know or you’re not sure, you don’t have to be afraid to admit it. The goal here is to help you better understand the customer journey and how you can use the mindset of your customers in their micro-moments to generate more sales and boost engagement.
Make sure you download the companion guide to this blog that takes the customer journey and shows you how to apply it to your business. Download it here.
Stages of the Customer Journey
The customer journey is a model of a typical customer transaction, from the first moment they become aware of your company until the moment they complete a purchase. Some marketers will also incorporate additional purchases by the same customer, but that starts to make the model kind of complicated, so for our purposes, we’ll just do this one transaction at a time.
Depending on which website or marketing book you read, the stages of the customer journey may be called something slightly different, but they all essentially describe the same state of mind. You’ll have the most influence over potential customers by knowing which of these pivotal stages of the customer buying journey they’re experiencing:
» Problem Unaware. The potential customer isn’t yet fully aware they have a problem that needs to be solved. Perhaps, like you were when you first started reading this article, they didn’t realize they were missing out on a much bigger experience that modern techniques and tricks could have helped them create. It’s not entirely their fault, they’ve probably always done something a certain way and the inefficiency or danger is just part of the process to them.
Your job at this stage is to make them aware that there’s a better way to do the thing they’re doing. A quote famously (and perhaps incorrectly) attributed to Henry Ford accurately sums up this state of mind: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Properly attributed or not, it works. It’s spot on.
» Problem Aware. At this point, the customer realizes they have a problem, but they don’t know how to solve it. They start to worry about what could happen if they don’t fix this problem. What’s the solution? Isn’t there a safer choice? This is the right time to start educating them about their problem and the ways you know your product can solve it to help them move along their way in their customer journey.
» Solution Aware. Now the customer knows about a product and how it can solve their problem, but they don’t really have any brands at the top of their mind, or on their mind at all. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why your brand represents values they can identify with and embrace. Winning a customer over to brand loyalty can be a highly profitable venture, since once a customer buys, they’re more likely to buy again and again.
» Branded Solution Aware. These customers are still not quite convinced that they know which brand to choose or if your particular brand is the best value. If you’ve led them through the customer journey to this point, they’re going to know your name — but if you’ve not put enough skin in the game, there’s a good chance you’re just background noise. You have to stand up and show yourself, not hide in the bushes hoping someone will find you. Go ahead, demonstrate how your brand solves the problem better than the other brands or represents a better value because it does the same job as the others, but at half the price.
» Purchase. The last step, the best step, is when the customer has become fully aware of their problem, they’re aware of a solution, they know some brands that can help them and they choose yours. This might be the hardest step in the customer journey, and certainly not one you can rush into. Instead, you’ll find success here by building a relationship long before you ask for a purchase.
Don’t Forget Micro-Moments
Micro-moments are another touchpoint that deserves a mention. Because mobile has become such a critical part of the customer experience, micro-moments are re-emerging as important trends for many types of businesses. These touchpoints represent small periods where a customer is looking to fulfill a need right away. Often, the customer will turn to a brand to solve their problem right now.
The urgency is the key to a micro-moment. Google recently ran some pieces on micro-moments, and defined them by what the customer was seeking, like so:
- I-Want-To-Know: What can I learn about this without making a purchase?.
- I-Want-To-Go: Where’s the nearest store or local business?
- I-Want-To-Do: How can I do a task or try something new?
- I-Want-To-Buy: Which item should I choose to put in my shopping cart?
Micro-moments aren’t a new concept in marketing, but they are a strongly re-emerging trend to watch when it comes to your customer journey. Remember, they’re fleeting moments, so you have to be in reaction mode so you’re ready when the customer is – there’s not going to be a second chance to fulfill that immediate need.
Sometimes customers will buck the traditional model and jump right into a micro-moment, so you have to be ready with a seamless experience across your channels.
According to our friends at Pew Research Center, 77 percent of adults in America own smartphones, mobile is a trend that’s only going to become more pervasive in our culture.
You can’t ignore it or run away from it, you have to embrace it if you want to succeed in modern business.
If you make it easy for your customers to answer the questions they experience during micro moments as they move toward a purchase, you’re already winning.
Increasing Engagement (AND SALES!) Without Blowing the Marketing Budget
The first step in improving your revenue without spending a lot of time on new lead generation is figuring out exactly where your customer base, or audience, is in their journey. Once you know that, you’ll be able to design marketing pieces that speak to the problems that they’re experiencing at those different stages, as well as speak to the micro moments they experience along the way.
Are your customers itching for a solution to their immediate problems in the form of information? Or do they want to buy something today that represents a physical solution? You know who they are, you know what they want, now is the time to figure out how to speak to those needs. This is the make or break point, don’t pretend otherwise. But we’re here to help.