When you have a product or service to sell, it's easy to picture your potential customer holding your product in their hands, opening up the package, or beginning the process of enjoying your service. After all, as salespeople and marketing experts, we love our product and we created our product to be experienced and used by people. The challenge with our thinking though, is that when it comes to marketing, we have to start much earlier in the process with our potential customers. We have to think narratively. We have to visualize the entire customer journey, not just the customer destination.
Where are we going?
Customer destination is the end goal we have for our buyer. We want them to buy our product, remain a repeat customer, and become a promoter to their networks. The problem with destination, however, is that it has an end. As a company, it should be our goal to never end our relationship with the customer, but instead to cultivate a long-term, never-ending sales cycle with them. So, if you've had a customer destination mindset, it is time to toss that out! In order to do that, we have to start thinking in circles, not lines.
So let's talk about the entire Customer Journey. When does the journey begin for your customer? Well, think about the last time you decided you were interested in buying something and all the steps you went through before actually making a purchase.
Step 1: The Idea
Last year, I bought a trampoline for my kids for Christmas. My journey began when I looked out in my backyard and pictured my kids jumping on a big trampoline. I decided pretty quickly that this was the greatest idea I had ever had as a dad. So, in a real sense, I had made my decision to purchase that item right then and there.
Step 2: The Need For More Information
But, I immediately thought about my San Francisco climate and wondered if a trampoline would be able to hold up in those conditions. Lots of rain, fog, etc… I thought about my gas grill and how rusted it was. I thought about price. I wondered how expensive a good trampoline was. I started to have more questions.
Step 3: Google It
My next thought was, ‘what am I going to type into Google to gather more information?’. This is a critical moment for us as marketers and business owners. This is the first time we get involved with our customer in their journey. This is the moment when our customer walks by the store front and thinks about walking in. What we have to determine is, ‘what keywords are people using to find my product?’ If you haven’t given this an enormous amount of thought, you are already in trouble. As marketers of our brand, we have to both know what people might be searching for and rank for those keywords, and also creatively work at telling people what they should search for related to our product. How are you increasing your ranking for existing keywords? Are you reasearching new terms that haven't been ranked yet?
Step 4: The Search Results
When I typed “best giant trampoline”, I was met with a large menu. "About 1,370,000 results (0.64 seconds)” to be exact. At the top of that menu were 2 ‘enemy’ words that I avoid at all costs when I am buying any product. You know what they are: “Ad” and “Sponsored”. Let’s take a second here. I talk with lots of companies about their marketing, and I am always amazed at the amount of money being spent on advertising. I always ask my prospects, ‘when you search on Google, do you ever click on the ads?’ The answer is almost always ‘no’. We don’t click on the ads. We want real, unbiased data. We want to know what real people are saying about their real experiences. This is the moment in the customer journey where you either tell your customer “you should come check out our product because it is really good”, or “you should come buy our product because we have lots of money”. Are you paying for Google Ads? It’s all good, keep it going, but you should also be working your tail off to rank organically.
Step 5: We're Here!
'Okay, okay, you got me. I'm here on your site.' This is where we get all pumped up about our website and our products. After all, we've just spent thousands of dollars on our new site, and people are going to love it! All we need to do now is shove our product in their face and they will hand over their credit card! Right? Wrong. This is a critical moment. Don’t blow it. Imagine walking into a retail store, and as soon as you come in, someone runs up and holds their product up in your face like a human pop-up ad and starts saying over and over gain, “Hey, you want this? Do you want to buy this? How about now? Now?” Fail. You are leaving, and you aren’t coming back. This is called “bounce rate”, people. When you have a high one, it’s probably because people aren’t being treated like they are a human being when they get to your website.
We'll talk more about the customer journey in Part 2. For now, I hope you will begin taking a hard look at your potential customer’s journey from the idea stage, to what information they need, to Google, to how you want to present in search results, and what someone’s first impression is when they enter your "store front", or your website.