When it comes to running a successful business, you need to understand how you operate and what value customers see in your offers. Taking this physician, heal thyself approach to sales will help you understand customers better and make it easier to match sales and marketing activities accordingly. The smart place to start is with a customer journey map to track the steps someone takes to buy from you.
Customer journey mapping puts steps and requirements into clear areas to simplify your sales process and highlight where a customer might need help. Start by asking questions for each stage to ensure you’ve got the right focus, materials, and tools to interact with customers.
The first stage of the customer journey map is awareness, where your potential customer is looking for a product like yours or a solution to a problem that you address. They’re trying to fulfill a need, and you can help. But how will they discover you?
In almost all cases, your efforts here are educational. Someone might discover you based on search results and related ads or by asking their friends about products they like. Posting related keywords on social may also land you in their feed due to responses or ad units. You’ve put something out into the world and hope it finds great customers instead of targeting them individually.
The reason you map these processes and results is to determine where and how people are finding you. Is your SEO game on point and answering search questions better than other results? Are your ads eye-catching and properly targeting the right audience? What is and isn’t working?
Mapping shows the different paths people take to get to you and where they land. That list of locations and pages helps lead you to the treasure in the next stage.
In the second stage, consideration, the customer is looking specifically at what you offer. They’re getting ready to buy and want more information. If you’re in the B2B space or offer goods for an entire household, this is also when they bring your info to other decision-makers.
Journey mapping here can help your team understand customer pain points. Some questions for you to consider include:
The actions current leads take will show you where you need to improve for future potential customers. You may need to build a more personal connection, answer questions in more locations, or make small adjustments to the language of your shipping and returns policy so customers know exactly when a product will arrive.
Customers who keep going down the buyer’s journey after consideration are making a purchase. They’ve converted, and (hopefully) you sent them an email with tracking and other details or printed out a receipt at a brick-and-mortar store. You’ve said “thanks,” and the customer is on their way.
If you stop right there, they may never come back to your store again. That’s not great, especially given that it’s much cheaper to encourage a return customer than it is to find a new one.
So, your customer treasure map needs to go past the first buried gold and show buyers how to access even more goods. This part of the buyer’s journey is where you provide support to stay top-of-mind and head off any potential issues with a product or service you offer. In the eCommerce world, this starts with confirmation emails and shipping details. It continues with notices about how to contact support or education to keep someone engaged with a product.
If you’re using sales management software, especially software that combines in-person and online sales, rely on it to plan your next interaction. Linked information to a customer’s account will help you determine when to send follow-up notices (for example, X days or weeks after a purchase), as well as when to deploy the first round of discounts to encourage the next sale.
Automation is your friend in these situations.
Retaining customers for additional purchases is tricky, especially if you’re working over long time periods. However, it can be fruitful. One thing that the customer journey map will show you is that the path is often cyclical.
The aspect to map and monitor is when people engage with your business in general, and how these situations can be replicated. Look for patterns around that initial purchase that you can use to encourage additional sales. The pain points that brought someone to you in the first place are good reminders here of what to keep solving and avoid causing.
So, you might be able to snag sales from your largest cohorts every summer or winter. People may come to you for birthday or Valentine’s gifts. Or, if your products last a certain amount of time, you can send an email a week or two ahead of their projected end date with a customer satisfaction survey and coupon to get them to start the journey over.
Consistent communication around how you support customers and proactively address needs can be a significant boon.
The ultimate goal for mapping the customer journey is to create a workflow and cycle that keeps people happy and engaged. You want them to think of you as a go-to problem solver. In most cases, this entails both addressing their challenges and making it easy to buy from you.
Point of sale (POS) platforms can capture rich customer data and help you understand people and their needs. This makes it easy to send updates and perform outreach at the right moment. By proactively addressing problems and being helpful when someone needs you again, you can build a customer journey designed to turn satisfied customers into advocates. In turn, these advocates will share your name with friends, family, and business partners.
Leverage your tools to match customers with purchase behaviors and available inventory to ensure you’re making the best offer for the right person.
Jake Rheude is the Director of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.