With the advent of digital marketing age it has become crucial for companies to have a more personalised and tailored made communication with individual customers, rather than mass market communication. For an effective digital marketing strategy to succeed it is essential to know the customer buying process, buying habits and the main touch points.
What is the customer journey or buying cycle?
As the word itself implies, the customer journey is the trip that takes the customer from the first interaction with the company, right up until the purchase. This also includes building up a possible relationship of trust with the company. In other words, it is the itinerary that all customers do from the first specific online touch point or offline marketing channel until, through different touch points, they finally decide to make the purchase.
Why is it important for companies to know this?
Knowing the purchasing process especially the methods and channels through which contact is made with the customer is essential. You will then be able to propose the product or service at the right time when the customers are looking for similar products or services as your company’s. This valuable knowledge allows you to choose the most appropriate marketing channels and to direct investments accordingly.
The different steps of the customer journey:
Awareness: At this stage, the customer becomes aware of wanting to satisfy a need by purchasing a product or service, but does not yet know what, and from which company.
Consideration & Interest: The customer begins to orientate towards some products that could satisfy his or her need, performs online research, compares products and companies, and reads reviews.
Purchase: After searching, comparing similar products, and making a shortlist of possible solutions, the customer then makes the buying decision. This purchase could take place online or offline regardless of where the searches were made.
Loyalty: Consumer loyalty. Will the customer return to purchase your products or related products? This depends on the buying experience, satisfaction and level of care the customer received.
The customer journey in the digital age
In the digital age, the phase of awareness mainly takes place on the web. Users spend a lot of time on websites, social networks and blogs. To create awareness of a need, or solution to a problem, companies can focus on social media marketing campaigns, advertising on the google display network or direct email marketing campaigns.
During the consideration and interest phase, users are already aware of having a need that they want to satisfy by purchasing a product or that they have a problem they need to solve. In this phase, the push action is not very effective. So what else can be done? In order to be found, the first step is to actually be present on the web. It is important at this initial stage, assuming you have a website, is to invest in SEO (search engine optimization) in such a way as to be visible when users are actively looking for your products or services. Otherwise it means losing the customer to the competition.
Another effective marketing channel at this stage is pay per click advertising, in particular Google search campaigns. Not only do you need to ensure you come up on the first pages of search engines, but also on social media such as, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
The purchase phase can be supported by online catalogues, faq, reviews, free trials, community, app, etc. In this phase and the next some effective options could include thank you emails, newsletters, meaningful customer support and re-marketing campaigns.
Nowadays, companies need to be able to have an increasingly broader view of the customer purchase model. It is essential to take advantage of the digital options to reach potential customers at every stage of the buying cycle.
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