In this article, you’ll learn about the stages of the customer journey, i.e. the stages a person goes through before becoming your loyal customer, and barriers that may prevent them from doing so. With this knowledge in mind, you’ll understand how to interact with your clients on every stage of their customer journey and gain great power over your competitors.
What is a Customer Journey?
A customer journey is a long way a person goes from not knowing that your brand exists to telling everyone how much they love your products/services. Your task is to make the process so smooth that your customers won’t even think about turning away from the path and choosing one of your competitors.
We’ve singled out 6 stages in the customer journey that we’ll touch upon later. Each of them will give you a key to interacting with your clients every step of the way.
What is an Omnichannel Customer Journey?
People interact with your brand using multiple channels: they may find some important info on your website or in your mobile app, and see your ads on TV or billboards in the city. All the touchpoints that lead a person to becoming your client make up the omnichannel customer journey.
Your main task and biggest challenge is to create a system for your client to move seamlessly from one channel to another. If you want to make people stay, you should provide them with the best customer experience possible.
Analyze your typical customer and spend more resources on developing the channels they use most. This way, you won’t waste money on unnecessary platforms and still get a chance to be more popular than your competitors.
What is a Customer Journey Map?
Sometimes a company has no idea where the clients come from and what makes them buy products/services. If a client comes across some barriers the company doesn’t know of, they try to solve the problem themselves. And if they fail, the customers don’t buy and the company doesn’t earn anything.
The customer journey map helps to predict what may stop the person from purchasing. It describes every step in detail: where you should help the client and where they can do well without you.
The CJM takes into account the client’s:
- emotions during the purchasing process;
- previous customer experience.
Thanks to the CJM, the company views the selling cycle not as reports and KPIs, but as a clear scenario it can control.
You can make the CJM in any form you like: charts, infographics, or flowcharts.
Stages of the Customer Journey
No matter what niche you’re in, the stages of the customer journey will be more or less the same.
On their way to the goal, our customers go through the following stages:
Stage 1. Need
Let’s take an online school of foreign languages as an example. Our typical customer will be a 20-27 year old individual who wants to learn a foreign language.
At this stage of the customer journey, our future customers start to realize that foreign languages can give a lot of career opportunities. They don’t search for any information yet, so there are not so many things marketers can do.
Still, we can research how many people achieve high results at work with the help of foreign languages. After that, we can advertise the results in social media or other channels used by potential customers. People of a young age don’t watch TV or read newspapers often, but they spend a lot of time on social media. That’s why this channel of communication should be our first choice. If our future customers constantly come across the idea that foreign languages can help them make a career and earn more money, they may get interested and go to the next stage of their customer journey.
Stage 2. Interest
At this stage of the customer journey, a person clearly understands that they have a problem and they need to find a solution. They consider different options that can help them achieve the results. For example, if a man needs a new suit, some of the options may include online shops, retail stores, and studios.
They’re likely to start surfing the Internet to understand which option they should choose. Your task at this stage is to make them notice your company.
First of all, increase brand awareness and presence in various communication channels. Pay attention to SEO to get more traffic to your website. Thus, when a person searches for information, they should end up on your webpage.
Stage 3. Research
Take this stage of the customer journey very seriously because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s when a person conducts research on your company and tries to understand whether you’ll be able to help them with their problem.
Make sure that you’re not only present in different communication channels but create the right impression as well. Your future clients should get nice user experience and see that you have expertise.
Fill your website and social media with high-quality content to make a person stay. For example, if you own a beauty store, you can invite some famous beauty bloggers and make step-by-step makeup tutorials using your products, or make a blog with news and tips from the beauty industry. You can also add your customers’ product reviews to the website to win our future clients’ trust.
Stage 4. First purchase
If the users don’t change their mind after they research your company, it’s time to take them to the stage of the first purchase.
Use some lead capture techniques to get the users into the database and turn them into customers. People are often afraid to spend money on things they are unsure about. To overcome this barrier, we can make pop-ups offering a discount or free shipping for their first purchase.
At this point, you need to make sure that the customer won’t get disappointed and change their mind. To help the customers make their first purchase, personalize your offer: ask the users about their preferences to show them the products they will like or recommend similar products.
For example, Vitarock offers their clients similar products they may choose from instead of the product they see. This way, Vitarock helps their users to decide and removes the barriers in the customer journey.
After the clients make the first order, they go to the next stage.
Stage 5. Loyal Customer
During this stage of the customer journey, you should build a strong relationship with our customers. You don’t want them to run away after the first purchase, so pay attention to your client’s experience.
For example, ask for their feedback every now and then. If you see that the customer is not happy, you can reach out to them for more detailed information and offer a solution.
Give your clients personal recommendations based on their previous activity.
You can also create a loyalty program and give the customers some perks for future purchases, e.g. invitations to private meetings, special offers, free shipping, etc.
Here’s what Reebok offers to the members of their loyalty program:
If the students feel a part of a community, if they feel taken care of, they’re more likely to stay and turn into our loyal customers.
After you win their trust, there’s only one stage left.
Stage 6. Brand advocate
At this stage, your clients become loyal enough to start promoting your products/services. And you should give them the motivation to do it.
Offer your customers discounts (or reward points in case of a loyalty program) for their reviews. It will help those at the stage of research make the right choice.
For example, Reebok awards points for the following actions:
You can also give the customers some special offers if they invite their friends to become your clients as well. It’s a cheap and easy way to get more customers.
How to Track Customer Journey Stages
The easiest way to track customer journey stages is to use CDPs. These are platforms that combine all the information you have about your clients into clients’ profiles. Thus, you can see what channels of communication this or that client uses most, how they interact with your company, and so on.
Most CDPs allow you to track customer journey stages via segmentation. For example, you can check the number of people registered for your event or converted to the first purchase, etc. The names of the stages may vary in different CDPs, but the idea remains the same.
And some CDPs, for example, MailChimp, allow you to create customer journey automations. You can add various starting points, actions, and other features to optimize the stages to the needs of your campaign.
Common Mistakes in Tracking Stages of the Customer Journey
Your customers’ journey won’t be so smooth if you:
- Lose control. When we think that the customer can go through some stages without our help at all, we gradually lose control of the situation. It may lead to the point when we have no idea what actions bring us customers and what problems make them choose somebody else.
- Underestimate the importance of some stages. We should remember that Research is the first stage of the customer journey where we can influence the clients. That’s why we need to do our best to make the right first impression.
- Track stages without thinking through the barriers and ways to overcome them. For example, if the clients come to your website and leave it very fast, you should find a way to make them stay, e.g. improve the content, create catchy lead capture forms, etc. The reason we start tracking stages in the first place is to understand what problems a customer may have at each step of their journey and how to help them reach the next stage.
A customer journey is a process people go through on their way to becoming your loyal clients.
A customer journey consists of 6 stages:
- First purchase
- Loyal customer;
- Brand advocate.
Your main goal is to understand what barriers may prevent the customers from completing their journey and what you can do to help them. To track the customer journey stages, use CDPs with functions of segmentation or customer journey automations.