Category Archives: customer journey

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How to Improve Your Customer’s Journey

How to Improve Your Customer’s Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In today’s podcast, I want to talk with you about something I’ve been thinking about a lot. It’s actually one of the key elements in my next book. But first, let’s start with some back story.  In the 80s, there was a brand that became a cultural hit called Members Only. Yes, I had a Members Only jacket, there, I admit it. The tagline for the companies’ line of apparel was, “When you put it on, something happens.”

Later we can talk about how goofy this is but today here’s my point – what if you could come to think about your customer or clients or patients or whatever you call them – as members.

Now, I’m not merely suggesting you create a membership aspect to your business. However, that might be a great model for you; I’m suggesting that you think this way about them.

If you did, it might change how you innovate, iterate, and support every aspect of your business.

In a stable membership relationship, your goal is to help every member get the transformation they are seeking. So, naturally, you would care more about them getting a result than you getting a transaction. If that were so, you would have to ask yourself much harder (or at least different) questions.

Questions to answer during the podcast:

  1. Where are our customers now in terms of the results they want?
  2. What are the characteristics of customers in each of these stages?
  3. What milestones must they achieve to move to the next stage?
  4. What activities or action steps must they take to achieve each milestone?
  5. What systems must we create to ensure passage through the stages of the success journey?

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

 

Klaviyo logoThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

Want to learn more? Head to Klaviyo.com/ducttape to schedule a demo.

How Mobile Has Impacted the Customer Journey

How Mobile Has Impacted the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is influenced by many outside factors. As the use of mobile devices has taken off over the past decade, it’s changed the way that businesses market themselves and how customers interact with businesses.

In order to better understand the impact mobile has had on the customer journey, it’s helpful to go through and assess the effect at each stage of the marketing hourglass. By better understanding how mobile changes customers’ behaviors, you can begin to adapt your marketing strategy to meet their evolving needs.

Mobile in the First Stage: Know

How do people discover a new business? Before the days of computers, it was all print and television ads, word of mouth, or simply driving by your storefront. Now, there are dozens of channels for people to encounter your brand. And mobile only further diversifies the field.

In some ways, mobile has shortened the customer journey. Mobile searches with the phrase “near me” and “can I buy” or “to buy” increased by 500 percent between 2015 and 2017. That boost means people are turning to mobile to discover immediate solutions to their problems. By entering this search term, they’re able to quickly check out your website, read reviews, and even find your hours and location on a map. What would have taken more in-depth research in the past is now condensed into a few minutes and a handful of clicks on a mobile device.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone finds you via an internet browser search. With the advent and rise of mobile apps, some people are discovering businesses through a specific app. For example, those who search for local businesses on the Yelp app are only being presented with businesses who have a presence on Yelp. If you haven’t claimed your profile there, you’re not going to be discovered at all. So making sure your business’s profile is claimed on the major local listings sites, like Yelp and Google My Business, is critical to winning at mobile.

For that same reason, you need to have a presence on social media. Some people turn to Facebook or Instagram for advice on which local businesses to patronize. Again, you’re not even going to be in the running if you don’t have a profile on those sites!

How Mobile Influences the Like and Trust Phases

Once someone’s discovered you online, they want to get to know you better. And to do that, they need to be able to learn more about you. Just like you wouldn’t get married after the first date, prospects want to make sure you’re the right fit before they dive in.

You want your content to build that familiarity and trust, while being easy to consume on a mobile device. That starts with creating content that can be enjoyed on the go. Podcasts are an easy listen for folks who are on their commute, and video is often a bite-sized way to share meaningful information that builds trust and authority.

Social media is also critical in this stage. Posting regularly on social media means that those who discover you on mobile can do a quick inventory of who you are and what you do by scanning backwards through your recent content.

For those who aren’t looking to make an immediate purchase, social media remains a great way to stay top-of-mind on mobile devices. People often check their social media accounts multiple times a day, and so if you’re appearing at the top of their newsfeeds each time they log in, you build that familiarity quickly.

Advertising can also help you stay top of mind. Social ads are a way to remain omnipresent on prospects’ feeds. And display ads allow you to keep you name on people’s minds even when they visit other websites from their phone’s browser.

How to Try on Mobile

When we get to the try phase of the customer journey, mobile has an important role in ensuring that customers don’t slip away at this critical stage.

Mobile tactics can help to facilitate the try process by making it easy to prospects to sign up for a demo or appointment. A smart use of chat or SMS marketing techniques can make it easy for you to automate the sign-up process, while providing prospects with a more personalized encounter with your business.

Newer technologies like augmented reality (AR) are changing the way people try on their phones. Take furniture store IKEA as an example. They built an app that allows prospects to try out a piece of furniture in their home through the power of AR. Prospects can point their phone at an empty corner of their room, select the sofa, chair, or lamp that they’re considering, and see on their screen what the item would look like in their home.

While AR technology might not be readily accessible to all small businesses yet, it’s definitely a trend to watch, as more and more retailers incorporate it into their marketing strategy.

Mobile Makes it Easy to Buy

A recent survey found that 79 percent of smartphone users had made a purchase on their phone within the past six months. So not only are folks using their mobile devices for research, they’re actually doing transactions on their phones.

For any small business with an e-commerce component, it’s critical that you make it easy for people to purchase via mobile. This is all about creating a customer experience with the least amount of friction in the buying process. Make it easy for people to navigate to their cart. Don’t ask for lots of additional information in the checkout process–only collect information necessary to process the transaction.

After the initial purchase has been made, great mobile UX can also help facilitate the onboarding process. If you’re an e-commerce brand, provide updates on shipping status, and make sure that customers can easily track their packages.

No matter what kind of business you’re in, there is content that you can create in a mobile-friendly format to make it easier for new customers to get the most out of their new purchases. Put together an email series with responsive design (so it looks great on any screen, big or small!) that outlines special tips and tricks for using the new product or service.

Use Mobile to Inspire Repeat Purchases

Once you’ve gotten a prospect to convert to customer, there’s still work to do! And pushing existing customers towards a repeat purchase can be achieved with some mobile-friendly tactics.

Retargeting is a great way to bring existing customers back into the fold. You can advertise on social media or via display ads, and direct certain content towards those who have already bought from you. If someone recently made a purchase, you can target them with advertising for a related product or service in order to encourage an upsell. If a customer has drifted away over the past few months, you can show them ads welcoming them back with a special offer for return customers.

Building out a rewards program is another way to engender loyalty amongst existing customers. This can be done either through your website (which should be mobile-friendly!) or with an app specifically for your business. The additional benefit of creating an app is that you eliminate the competition. Your existing customers come directly to you via the app to make a purchase, rather than going onto the web to search for your solutions and run the risk of getting drawn in by one of your competitors with a smart SEO or paid search strategy.

Mobile and Referrals

The final stage of the customer journey is getting your customers to refer others. As I mentioned in the earlier phases, reviews are a key part of the referral process, and that’s particularly true on mobile. People who are searching for solutions on the go will turn to reviews in lieu of asking friends or family for recommendations. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’re doing the work to solicit reviews from your customers.

You can also consider creating a referral program. If you have a mobile app for your business, creating a program directly through the app is a great, easy way to help your mobile-minded customers refer their friends.

Finally, social media can help you generate referrals. Share user-generated content that sings your brands praises. Create contests and opportunities for your existing fans on social to give your brand a shout-out to their friends. Get influencers to try your product and vouch for you to their followers. A referral from a real friend or trusted influencer on social can go a long way in winning over new customers.

Mobile marketing has changed the way consumers buy, and so businesses have had to adjust their marketing accordingly. By considering how to get the most out of mobile at each stage of the customer journey, you can position yourself to reach the majority of consumers, who have become more and more focused on mobile over the years.

Important KPIs for Each Phase of the Customer Journey

Important KPIs for Each Phase of the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is often a long and winding road. And that means it can be difficult to track your business’s effectiveness at each phase of the journey. The easiest way to gain greater clarity around your customer journey, and to identify strong points and weak spots, is to pinpoint and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) for each phase of the journey.

Once you find the metrics that can help you understand your business’s effectiveness in guiding the journey at each stage, you can begin to make changes to your existing approach. You can find ways to lean into the tactics that are working and eliminate the less effective elements of your strategy.

Because the journey changes so much over time, there are different KPIs to consider at each phase. Let me walk you through the most important KPIs to focus on for each stage of the customer journey.

Know, Like, and Trust

At the top of your marketing hourglass are the know, like, and trust phases of the customer journey. This is where customers first discover your business and then come to understand what you do.

The first thing you’ll want to know at this part of the journey is how many people are actually discovering your business online. To measure this, you can turn to metrics on organic and paid search campaigns.

A tool like Google Search Console allows you to understand how your keywords are performing. You can see search traffic and reach. You can track which queries are actually bringing visitors to your website. When you understand these SEO metrics, you can revisit your keyword research and make tweaks to boost your SEO.

Tracking paid search results is also critical in this stage. Understanding metrics on your ad campaigns like the quality score (which measures the relevance of your keywords) and clickthrough rate give you a deeper understanding of how many people are seeing your ads, and whether or not your copy is compelling enough to get viewers to click your link.

Once you move into the like phase, you begin to evaluate metrics that cover engagement on your website and social media. It’s important to track the number of visitors you have to your website. Are they all first-timers, or do you have return visitors? How many times do people generally visit your site before they move onto the conversion phase of the marketing hourglass? All of this information can help you understand potential bottlenecks in the know, like, and trust portion of the hourglass.

Social media engagement metrics also give you insight into the like and trust phases. How many people are following your accounts? Are you steadily growing your audience? And beyond just the number of followers, are those who follow your account interacting with your content? Are people liking, commenting, and responding to your follow-ups? More engaged followers on social indicates that the content you’re sharing is helpful and meaningful to your audience. You’re doing the work of truly earning their trust.

Try and Buy

Once you’ve won prospects over initially, they move closer towards the ultimate conversion goal: making a purchase. But before they hand over their credit card information, they want the opportunity to try what your business offers. They need that final assurance that everything will go smoothly if they decide to buy.

When it comes to the try phase, you want to measure metrics that clearly showcase the gap between people who were in those early marketing hourglass phases and those who’ve made it to this next level. Tracking site visits versus conversions by source is a great way to visualize this gap.

Is there a certain channel that drives more traffic to your site than others? Maybe you see most of your traffic coming from your Instagram profile. The content you’re creating there is meaningful enough to vault those followers up to the try and buy phase. From there, you also want to measure conversions by channel.

Let’s say that only a tiny sliver of those Instagram followers actually convert once they visit your site. But a larger number of folks coming through your newsletter—a less-popular channel overall—take the next step with your business. That gives you some insight into the effectiveness of the messaging on your newsletter versus your Instagram. While the Instagram content attracts more positive attention, it somehow doesn’t sync up with what visitors find on your website (hence the high number of visits but low conversion). Your newsletter, on the other hand, isn’t as compelling, but provides a clearer picture of the work you do.

Measuring Call to Action button and landing page performance can also provide valuable information at this stage. Are people actually clicking on your CTAs, be they on your website, in your social ads, or in your newsletter? And once they’ve clicked the CTA and landed on your website, are they filling out the form they find there to take the next step to try or buy—whether that’s requesting a demo to give you a try or making a first purchase?

Repeat and Refer

The final phase in the hourglass takes you beyond the initial purchase and into the realm of your long-term relationship with customers. Do your customers like you enough to return to you for additional purchases? And beyond even that, would they refer you to a friend?

There are a handful of KPIs that can help provide clarity around those questions. Retention rate is one of them: How many of your customers are sticking around come renewal time? If you run a gym, do you see people renewing their memberships month after month? Or is there a big drop-off at some point in the cycle?

If you see a pattern in your retention rate, why is that? For the gym that sees a big drop-off in March, as those New Year’s Resolution folks begin to drift away from working out, can you provide an incentive then to get them to stay on? It doesn’t even need to be monetary; maybe it’s a class with a popular instructor called “Maintain Your Resolutions Through the Spring.” And those who signed up for gym membership in December or January are given first dibs on spots.

Reviews can also help you identify issues in your customer journey. Do you keep seeing positive feedback on your customer service team? That means you’ve created an empowered team who’s willing and able to go the extra mile for your customers (a great way to boost retention). But at the same time, do you see a common complaint that leads customers to turn to your customer service team in the first place? If so, take steps to remedy that issue that multiple customers have identified in reviews.

And finally, there’s the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. If you’ve ever taken a survey for a business, you’ve likely encountered the NPS question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

People who respond with a nine or 10 are known as promoters—loyal fans of your business. Folks in the seven to eight range are in a bit of a no-man’s land; they’re considered passive. While they’re happy enough with you, they could just as easily go with a competitor, if the right offer came along. Anyone ranking you a six or below are considered detractors. They’re unhappy with you and could do damage to your business with negative word-of-mouth.

Understanding how many of your customers are enthusiastic supporters versus how many could take you or leave you (or worse, bad-mouth you to a friend), helps you gain clarity around the final steps of the customer journey. With detractors, you did everything early on in the hourglass well enough to get them to buy from you. But something went awry in the last few steps, and now they’re unhappy enough to tell others about their negative experience. That’s valuable information! From there, you can assess things like your onboarding process for new clients and take a closer look at your customer service approach to identify weak spots.

When it comes to getting a better understanding of your customer journey, it’s not enough to rely on your gut. The journey is complex. The best way to understand it is with cold, hard data. By tracking specific KPIs for each phase of the customer journey, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses in your strategy, and make tweaks accordingly to better facilitate a smooth journey for your customers.

How Mapping Your Customer Journey Can Improve the Customer Experience

How Mapping Your Customer Journey Can Improve the Customer Experience written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you’re driving to an unfamiliar location, you pull up directions on Google Maps. When you’re hiking a new path in your favorite state park, you stop at the trailhead to check the posted map. You never go into a physical journey without taking stock of where you’re headed. So why wouldn’t you do the same for the customer journey?

Understanding where your customers go when they’re interacting with your business can help transform your marketing efforts. Here, I’ll walk you through the steps of customer journey mapping—everything from what it is to why it matters so much.

What is Mapping the Customer Journey?

Let’s start with the basics. Mapping the customer journey requires you to create a visual representation of every interaction a customer has with your business that leads them to a certain conversion. This might be the path they carve from discovery of your brand, at the very top of the marketing hourglass, to signing up for your email newsletter. Or perhaps it’s a look at the steps they take between clicking on your social ad for a given product and purchasing the item.

In order to create a map, you should conduct interviews with real customers. Ask them how they discovered your brand. Find out about their experience interacting with your website. Take stock of where else they found you on the web (social media or local listings sites, perhaps?). And collect feedback on their ease of making a purchase and getting support from your team, if they needed it.

You should also take the time to do your own research. Pretend you’re a customer searching for a solution that you offer, and go onto the web. Google yourself or a related search term, and walk through the process of navigating your website. Check out your social profiles, and see where they lead you. Sometimes you’ll discover something new and interesting about your own online presence when you experience it through the lens of a customer’s journey.

By creating customer journey maps for the steps that lead to those important conversion moments along the broader journey, you can gain a deeper understanding of the people who love your brand. When you can wrap your head around how your customers behave and why they do it, you can refine your marketing tactics and messaging to best complement those behaviors.

Understand the Complexities of the Journey

Today’s customer journeys are incredibly complex. In the olden days, someone would read a print ad, catch your commercial on the television or radio, or maybe simply see the sign out in front of your store and stop on by. Now, with dozens of digital channels to consider, it’s hard to know exactly when and where someone encountered your brand.

And even if you’re aware of some of their interactions with your business—because they happened online and you’re able to track them—it’s hard to know which point of contact is the one that ultimately pushed them towards the conversion.

Mapping the customer journey helps you to understand all that. Perhaps in customer interviews, you keep hearing about a blog post from a local influencer that mentions your business and drives a lot of traffic your way. That’s valuable information! Consider reaching out to that blogger to see if they’d like to become a part of your strategic partner network.

Or maybe you take your own website out for a spin. You have an online booking portal for folks who want to make appointments, but you discover that for first-time users, there’s a lengthy registration process. It requires lots of clicks and form-filling, and can be a source of frustration. Now that you’ve experienced that hurdle first-hand, you understand your booking system could be driving customers away, and you can take steps to change it!

Learn What Matters to Your Customers

What you think matters to your customers and what actually matters to your customers are sometimes two different things. Sure, there’s something to be said for generic best practices; they can be a great starting-point for any brand looking to establish a solid web presence.

But what’s right for a competitor or someone in another industry isn’t always right for you. Perhaps you’ve heard that Yelp is the best local listings site for your industry. So you spent countless hours building out your Yelp profile and driving all of your customers to review you there. But then, you discover that most of your customers are searching for solutions on Google Maps. That means they’re coming across your much sparser Google My Business profile.

As you discover more about the customer journey from your conversations with actual customers and your own experience navigating test journeys, you’ll want to make tweaks to your approach. Maybe that’s changing wording on your social media’s homepage that makes it easier for customers to understand what you do. Maybe it’s rearranging your website’s navigation bar to remove some of the steps it currently takes for prospects to request a demo.

Whatever modification to the journey you want to try, it’s a good idea to implement A/B testing in your process. Display the new element to half of your audience, and keep things the same for the other half. Then measure conversions for each group. If things improve with your adjustment, you know you’re on the right track. If things remain the same (or conversions decrease), it’s best to test another new approach.

Find New Customer Segments (or Redefine Existing Ones)

The way in which you market your business and the shape of the customer journey are inextricably linked. By that I mean, you need to market your business in a way that suits the typical trajectory for the customer journey. But the way that you market your business can also have an influence on the shape of the journey.

Sometimes, your marketing efforts might have you missing out on specific segments of the population who could be interested in your product. Or, there might be a way for you to optimize your current marketing to get your existing customers to return or make larger purchases.

Let’s say you run a yoga studio. You already have some clearly defined personas for your business: young professionals focused on wellness, people looking to reduce stress and anxiety, and pregnant women and new moms.

Perhaps in speaking with those moms in your postpartum segment, you realize that what they appreciate about your studio isn’t the ability to move a little. And it’s not about getting out of the house and away from the newborn for an hour or two on Wednesday mornings. What they love is the community of other new moms, with whom they can share their struggles and successes.

Once you understand that the problem you’re solving for these moms is really about community, not fitness, you can refine your marketing approach. Create a Facebook group that’s a place for yoga moms to come together. They can share tips, commiserate about the horrors of sleep-regression, and even organize playdates for their little ones! Suddenly, you’ve become the architect of this impactful community. New moms who otherwise might not have tried yoga—but who love your Facebook group—might feel compelled to stop in for a class.

By better understanding your existing customers, you can create additional stops along the customer journey to address their needs and attract similar prospects.

Meet Customers Where They Are

Rather than directing your outbound marketing efforts to anyone under the sun, when you understand the customer journey you can develop stronger inbound tactics in the places where your fans are already congregating.

Let’s say you run a catering company. You’ve been advertising heavily on Instagram. Because it’s a visually-based social network, it’s a great place for you to show off your beautifully-plated food.

However, your typical client is more established—it’s not cheap to throw a lavish, catered soiree, after all! For the most part, they’re in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Statistically, Instagram is not the place to go to interact with people above the age of 30. Less than 40 precent of those in their 30s are on the platform; only 16 percent of the 50-and-over set are on Instagram.

So stop wasting money on Instagram ads. Instead, invest in inbound tactics elsewhere where you’re more likely to bump into your actual customers. Get on Facebook, the social network of choice for most people 40 and older. Work on building out your referral network and case studies, since word-of-mouth matters a lot in the local catering business.

When you’re able to find your prospects and greet them on their turf, you build trust and reduce ad spend. You can certainly still advertise! In fact, when it’s focused on those spaces where your clientele actually gather online, you get a much greater ROI.

The customer journey is only going to get more complex. Digital marketing continues to grow, and new channels for reaching customers develop. When you understand where your customers are and where they want to go, you can create a smoother customer journey—one that guides them right to your desired conversion.

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019?

How Did the Customer Journey Evolve in 2019? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.

While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.

Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.

The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further

Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.

Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.

Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.

Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.

Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever

Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.

As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.

This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.

Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.

And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.

Online and In-Person Worlds Collide

If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.

Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.

How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.

Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.

Engagement is Key

As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.

Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success

Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.

Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?

Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.

The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It

With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.

This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile

When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.

The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape.

Where Does Social Media Fit Into the Customer Journey?

Where Does Social Media Fit Into the Customer Journey? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Your social media marketing can sometimes feel separate from your other marketing efforts. After all, social media is about engaging with fans and having a little bit of fun with your brand, is it really a place where you should be thinking about the customer journey?

The fact of the matter is that all of your marketing efforts should be shaped around the customer journey, and that includes social media. And yes, there is a way to fit social media into each stage of the customer journey without resorting to sales-y posts or spammy messages.

Here’s how you can incorporate social media at every stage of the customer journey, from know, like, and trust to try, buy, repeat, and refer.

Know

Social media is a great place to introduce your business to new people. The first stage of the customer journey is all about exposing your target audience to your branded content. You want your prospects to get a feel for who you are, what you do, and why you’re better at it than the competition.

The first step to setting yourself up to meet new people on social is making sure you establish a profile with all of your information that clearly incorporates your branding and logos. Whether you’re just starting out or bringing your social page back from the dead, organic social begins with posting interesting branded content.

This content is how people will come to know your brand and begin to associate your name with your area of expertise.

Like

Once you’ve gotten the attention of new fans, it’s time to get on their good side. In the like phase, you want to educate them on their problems. This is the time to show that you understand their pain, and that your business offers the perfect solution to whatever ails them.

Continue to share content, but whatever you do, make sure it’s meaningful! Take this opportunity to share in-depth posts from your blog, explainer videos from your YouTube channel, and episodes from your podcast that feature other experts in your field. You can curate content from other sources, too, but the key to getting folks to like you is sharing content that’s relevant to them.

You can also begin to invest in boosting your content and sharing paid ads. Boosting content allows you to share your existing organic content with a broader audience, while paid campaigns give you the option to display sponsored posts to those who have already interacted with your organic social presence. Either way, these paid options are a way to increase your presence on your audience’s social feed and to build a sense of familiarity that breeds fondness.

Trust

By now, you’ve convinced your audience that you know your field and understand the problem that you solve. Now’s the time to reinforce that trust in your business and drive initial engagement.

You can begin to whet your audience’s appetite with allusions to a great offer. Paid posts with targeted calls to action help you achieve this. You can also take an organic approach by sharing links that drive back to an initial offer on your website.

This is the time to hammer home your expertise in your field and make a strong case for your business.

Try

This is where you make your first offer to prospects. In the try phase, you reveal your offer and present content designed to move them towards a decision.

Your initial offer doesn’t have to be huge, and in fact, it shouldn’t be. It’s best to start with something small to get your foot in the door with your prospects. Again, posts and ads with targeted calls to action are the way to go here. Presenting a free trial or making an offer that reduces risk (say, one that includes a money-back guarantee) is a great way to get prospects to commit to giving you a try.

Buy

Once you’ve gotten your prospects to take advantage of your trial offer, and you’ve dazzled them with a peek at your killer product or service, they’ll be ready to take the plunge and make their first real purchase.

Social media can help coax them towards this conversion. Step up your customer engagement here. If someone who’s tried your product leaves a comment or asks a question on your social media page, be quick to offer up a response! If they’ve left a review on your page that expresses hesitations following their initial trial, reach out to them directly to follow up, offer a solution, and ask them to give you a second chance.

Taking those extra steps to get personal and engage with your hottest leads on social is the way to support the buying process and drive that all-important purchase.

Repeat

Once you’ve convinced your prospect to become a first-time customer, you have to continue to delight them! Maintain your outreach efforts whenever customers engage on your page. If you get private messages from customers through social media, make it a priority to respond quickly.

Most social media management tools (like Hootsuite or SproutSocial) allow you to respond across social platforms from their centralized dashboard. This means there’s no excuse for missing an important communication from your customers!

On the organic social front, posting more in-depth content, like case studies, is a way to continue to build rapport with your customers. Prove to them that you’ve provided long-term value to other customers, and they’re more likely to return to give you more business as well.

When it comes to paid options, retargeting allows you to stay top-of-mind with your existing customers. Consider sending complementary offers to those who have recently made purchases on your site (i.e. If someone bought golf cleats, show them an ad for golf gloves or headcovers).

Refer

The final step in the customer journey is to win referrals. Social media comes in handy here because it’s an inherently—well, social—place!

If you want to get people talking about your brand with their friends, create content that is shareable. You’re already posting meaningful content, but are there ways to make that content more fun or share-worthy?

Let’s say you run a pest control business. Consider creating a humorous video that helps homeowners identify the kind of bugs or critters they might have running around their house. Or, put together a quiz that readers can take, helping them hone in on the type of infestation they might be facing. This is the kind of content that’s not only useful, but is interactive, engaging, fun, and likely to be shared.

In the refer phase, you can even use paid tactics to boost customer posts. So if you have excellent, positive user-generated content, this is the time to let it shine!

Social media is as much a part of guiding the customer journey as any other marketing tactic. The interactive nature of the medium allows you to create one-on-one relationships with your prospects and customers, and to target them with the type of messaging that they most need to see at their particular stage of the journey. By using both paid and organic tactics, you can create a comprehensive social strategy that drives visitors further down the marketing hourglass, no matter where they are right now.

Marrying Content with the Customer Journey

Marrying Content with the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Arnie Kuenn
Podcast Transcript

Arnie KuennOn today’s podcast, I speak with Arnie Kuenn, an international speaker, author, and founder and CEO of Vertical Measures.

Prior to founding the digital marketing agency Vertical Measures in 2006, Kuenn founded several other businesses, including MediaChoice, an internet startup whose clients included the major television networks, plus music and movie studios.

Kuenn now runs his business and travels the world speaking and running training workshops on marketing. He is also the author of several books, including his latest, The Customer Journey: How An Owned Audience Can Transform Your Business. On this episode, we discuss the customer journey, and the role that effective content marketing plays in guiding buyers through the journey.

Questions I ask Arnie Kuenn:

  • What made you decide to write the book as a fable?
  • How would you define the customer journey?
  • What’s the connection to content throughout each stage of the customer journey?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why good content comes from understanding people’s pain points.
  • How putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes can help you identify gaps in your content.
  • Why digital marketing allows you to meet prospects at their time of need.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Arnie Kuenn:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.

Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.

Where Marketing Automation Fits Into the Customer Journey

Where Marketing Automation Fits Into the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When companies incorporate marketing automation into their approach, they often focus on the middle of the marketing hourglass. They use the automation tool to stay in touch with existing customers or to reach out to prospects who are very near to making their first purchase.

However, marketing automation can be used throughout the entirety of the customer journey to great effect. When you’re smart about automating marketing processes, it frees you up to do more of the prospecting and lead nurturing work that only a real human can do, while taking some of the more tedious and time consuming parts of the marketing process off your plate.

Here, we’ll take a look at the various features that make up marketing automation, and how best to use them throughout the customer journey.

What is Marketing Automation?

Before we dive in, let’s provide a quick definition of marketing automation. It’s the process of using a software platform to automate some of your repetitive marketing tasks. It can be used across channels, and includes social media, email, and certain website actions.

The software allows you to group users by certain attributes or behaviors and to target them with messaging that is most relevant to them. For example, you might group people in the same geographic location together, or group people who have made multiple purchases from your business.

Marketing Automation for the “Know” Phase

At the very top of your marketing hourglass, people are encountering your brand for the very first time. Maybe they’re someone who’s in desperate need of the good or service your provide; maybe it’s someone with a passing interest in your field. How do you sort things out this early on in the game?

One of the first things that marketing automation tools can do is help you with lead capturing efforts. Using the same form across your website allows you to gather the same contact information for everyone who fills out the form. From there, you can begin the process of analyzing their attributes and behaviors to figure out whether or not they’re serious prospects.

Behavior scoring (otherwise known as lead scoring) asks you to take data on your existing clients to build a composite profile for your ideal prospect. Where do they live? What profession are they in? What kind of actions do you expect them to take before they convert?

When you know what your ideal prospect looks like, you can then use your marketing automation tool to compare each lead against this dream prospect. If they’re ticking most of the boxes, this is a lead you know is worth your time. They’re likely to convert, if you play things right, so it’s smart to spend some marketing dollars courting them.

Leads that fall completely outside of this ideal picture are likely not worth your time. They’re just not the kind of person that realistically needs or wants what your business offers, so no amount of time or money will result in them changing their mind.

Marketing Automation for “Like” and “Trust”

Once you’ve identified those leads that are worth approaching, you can begin to use your marketing automation tool to create an effective email campaign.

Marketing automation tools allow you to segment your audience so that you can send specific messaging to different groups of people based on their attributes and interests. It’s also possible to use the tool to personalize the email, setting it to auto-populate with name, company, and job title based on the information you have in your database.

For prospects, you can establish a set of prospecting emails that slowly and methodically introduce them to your company and the problems you can help them solve. Only 23.9 percent of all sales emails are even opened, so it will take several attempts to get a prospect’s attention.

You should start by creating a handful of emails that contain different offers so that prospects can come to know and like your business—an invitation to access a white paper on your area of expertise, an opportunity to join a monthly webinar that you hold, or an offer to book an introductory call with a member of your sales team.

You can then set these messages to send on a regular schedule, with a built-in trigger to turn off the next email in the set if the current email leads to a conversion.

Your marketing automation tool can also help you to tailor the content on your website to the profiles of your visitors. The tool can show specific content that you know will be valuable to a given prospect, and you can create dynamic content that is replaced based on actions a prospect has taken or interest that they’ve expressed in a particular topic. This level of personalization makes a prospect feel seen and heard, which goes a long way to building likability and trust.

Marketing Automation for “Try” and “Buy”

Once you’ve proven to prospects that you understand their specific needs and have the perfect solution for their problems, you begin to move them into the try and buy portion of the hourglass.

Using marketing automation to target them with messaging that is triggered by a specific action can be an effective tactic here. At this point you already know a bit about the prospect, so you can get even more specific about giving them information you know they’ll be interested in.

For example, let’s say a prospect has signed up for your company newsletter, you can use this action to then trigger messaging to drive them to the try phase in the hourglass. Maybe this means a pop-up on your website that invites them to a free trial of your service. Or perhaps it’s an email invitation to an upcoming event on the topic you cover in your newsletter, with a friends and family code so they can attend for free.

Once someone’s made their first purchase, you can set your system to automatically follow up with them. Send them a welcome email that gives them additional information on how to get the most out of their purchase. Then automatically send them an email again in a few weeks’ time to make sure they’re still happy and to offer support with any issues they may have encountered.

Marketing Automation for “Repeat” and “Refer”

You’ve already used your marketing automation platform to get your prospects to convert, but you can continue to use the tool to influence the remainder of their customer journey.

Once a customer has made a specific purchase, you can offer them related products or target them with communications that are focused on their areas of interest. In a recent Marketo survey, 78 percent of respondents said they would only pay attention to promotions that were related to their previous interactions with the brand. That means that most consumers would rather have no deal offered to them at all than have a generic offer sent their way.

Marketing automation can also help you to establish and maintain a strong referral base. With the ability to set up regular communication with your existing customers, marketing automation tools help you to stay top of mind so that customers are likely to have your name on the tip of their tongue when their friend asks for a referral in your field. Additionally, if you choose to establish a referral program, you can use email segmentation to stay in touch with members of that program, offer meaningful rewards, and target new leads coming to you via referral with specialized messaging.

In addition to the benefits that marketing automation provide you throughout the customer journey, the tools offer bigger-picture benefits as well. You should be using the data you collect on the effectiveness of your marketing efforts throughout the customer journey to refine each of the steps you take along the way.

Marketing automation tools compile a lot of information on the effectiveness of your marketing approach across channels, which allows you to identify holes, find logjams, and then invest the time in fixing those issues. When you have a better understanding of your complete marketing approach along the entire customer journey, you’re empowered to create one that is even more optimized for future customers.

4 Tips for Driving the Customer Journey with CRM

4 Tips for Driving the Customer Journey with CRM written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

As I’ve written about in the past, in today’s digital world, the customer journey is no longer a straight line. While you can’t exert complete control over the way in which customers and prospects interact with your business, it is possible to get strategic about guiding people differently depending on where they are in their individual journey.

One of the most useful tools for effectively guiding a customer’s journey is CRM. Because it is the place where you house all of your information on clients and prospects, it not only gives you in-depth information about each individual, it also allows you to see broader patterns in customer behavior and to tailor your approach to meet your customers where they are.

Below, I’ll share four tips for using your CRM tool to effectively drive the customer journey.

1. Identify Patterns in Customer Behavior

If you’ve been keeping good records in your CRM, it should have all of the data on your current customers. How they found you, the ways they’ve been in touch, what they’ve purchased, and the last time they did business with you. Using this information, you can begin to create a composite profile for your ideal customer, and then go out and target similar prospects.

Let’s say you own a photography studio. Maybe you work with a lot of couples who hire you as a wedding photographer. Maybe local business owners use you to do professional headshots for their team. When you’re able to identify patterns in demographics, it means that leads who fit a similar profile are more likely to be promising ones.

You can also use CRM to track the behaviors of existing clients. Is there one action that everyone seems to take before they make a purchase? Going with the photography example: it might be that prospects who convert always reach out via the CTA button on your wedding portfolio page, while your corporate headshot page gets less traction. That tells you something meaningful about your customer base, and that’s information you can use to assess the viability of prospects.

2. Score Your Leads

The next step in assessing your prospects is lead scoring. Lead scoring is the process of looking at a prospect’s profile and behavior to see how likely it is that they’re serious about becoming a customer.

Once you have a complete picture of your ideal customer, you want to begin comparing that profile to your leads. Those prospects that have a profile most similar to your existing customers are considered hot leads. Those who fall outside of the profile of your typical client base are not people you want to spend your time and money marketing to. It’s unlikely that they’ll ever convert, no matter how great your product or service is.

The most important thing in establishing a lead scoring system is consistency. Make sure that you’re evaluating all leads on the same criteria, and establish a point system that makes sense for you and your business. Some CRMs come with lead scoring tools built in, or it’s possible to get a standalone system. This allows you to effectively budget your marketing time and dollars towards those hottest leads, while not wasting efforts on those who won’t ever convert.

3. Keep Tabs on Your Hottest Leads

Once you’ve gone through the effort of understanding current customer behavior and identifying those leads that are most similar in behavior or profile to your existing clients, you’ll want to keep tabs on those people. Don’t just use your CRM to track existing clients; you should be managing your relationships with prospects here, too.

For those hottest leads, you want to move them towards the trust and try portion of your marketing hourglass. Keep track of all of their behavior, and take a personalized approach in responding to their actions.

Continuing on with the photographer example above, let’s say you meet a couple at a wedding expo. They stop by your booth and chat with you about your work. In previous years, you’ve had a high conversion rate amongst those couples that you met at wedding expos, so you know that this is a hot lead. Do not miss the opportunity to close the deal with them!

This is where personalization comes in. Hopefully you’ve made notes about your interaction with them in your CRM. Reach out the day after the expo to send a message thanking them for their time, mentioning something specific about the details of their wedding that they discussed with you, and offering them the opportunity to sit down for a free consultation with you to discuss their photography needs.

Obviously, this level of personalization takes time and effort, and that’s precisely why you only want to focus this kind of attention on those most promising of leads. However, when you do prove to those prospects that you’re willing and able to go the extra mile, this is how you build trust and move them one step closer to becoming a customer.

4. Use Email Segmentation to Keep the Customer Experience High

So all of this effort in targeting hot leads and offering personalized service has paid off: You’ve won over a new customer! But this is not the end of the customer journey, and you can’t let the high quality of service that you’ve offered thus far drop off now that you’ve taken down someone’s credit card information.

Fortunately, you can use email segmentation to continue to offer that personalized touch. Within your CRM, it’s possible to group people based on their stage in the customer journey or on specific actions they’ve taken or products they’ve purchased. You can then send targeted messages to people in these groups.

Back to the photographer: You can set up your CRM to follow up with clients based on their activities or demographics. That couple from the wedding expo? Add them to your mailing list for your wedding newsletter, where you share tips and tricks about how to plan a really special day. Once they become a client and you shoot their wedding, add them to the list of happy customers that you then target with messaging about your referral program. And if you keep in touch with them regularly (which your CRM should help you with) then you can also reach out down the line to offer them a discount on baby photos for their birth announcement and family photos for holiday cards for years to come.

When used properly, a CRM is a powerful tool that allows you to direct customers to have the experience you want them to have. You can identify and interact with those who really are your target audience, and continue to present them with valuable messaging at the right time, ensuring that their customer experience remains high during every interaction.

The Central Role of Advertising In The Customer Journey?

The Central Role of Advertising In The Customer Journey? written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

When you think of advertising, your first association might be with attracting new customers. Ads are supposed to reach out to audiences unknown, introduce them to your brand, and bring them on board.

But in reality, advertising can be used effectively throughout the customer journey. It’s not only a tool to reach prospective clients; it can also keep those you’ve already converted around for many years to come.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about the marketing hourglass, and while you’re undertaking that approach to marketing on the whole, you can incorporate advertising into each of the seven key steps along the hourglass.

Advertising to the Know and Like Crowd

Before someone ever becomes a customer, they will first need to come into contact with your brand and decide that you’re offering a product or service that’s unique and that will serve their specific needs in a way that no one else can.

If you’re looking to reach prospects, you want to target people who are similar to your current customers. It stands to reason that those who will have similar needs and wants to your current clients probably also have other similar attributes (age, location, budget, etc.).

Online advertising tools have become increasingly advanced and allow you to direct your ad spend only at those who are most likely to want to know and like your brand. Facebook offers a service called lookalike audiences, where business owners are able to upload the contact list of their current customers, and Facebook in turn identifies people with similar attributes for you to target with your ads. Google Ads offers business owners the ability to target users by geographical location and by those who are searching for specific keywords.

The key to advertising to prospects is knowing and understanding your current clients. The more data you have on them and their habits, the more likely you are to be able to hone in on a similar audience who would be more than happy to stumble across your business.

Advertising to the Trust and Try Crowd

Once someone becomes aware of your company, they move a bit further along the marketing hourglass to the trust and try stages. Here, you’ll want your advertising efforts to help users build confidence in what your brand can do, and to give them an opportunity to take what you’re offering out for a spin.

A key part of a prospect developing trust in your business is seeing you around consistently. The mere exposure effect in psychology says that people are more likely to trust someone or something that they see over and over again. Advertising across various channels (both on- and offline) will help to keep your brand front and center in prospects’ minds.

This also means that part of your advertising strategy is just about hanging in there. If you don’t see results right away from your advertising spend, don’t throw in the towel. Sure, it’s fine to tweak your approach, but scrapping the entire thing will take your business off the radar screen of those who might have been interested in giving your product or service a try if it had only popped up on their screen one or two more times.

Once prospects have seen you around and you’ve piqued their interest, they might want to take your product or service out for a test drive before committing and converting. Providing offers for free, advanced content like an eBook or access to a webinar, or giving prospects a free trial option can be the final step before converting. While I’d suggest that you take a more personalized approach to your interactions with prospects, it’s also possible to include offers in more general advertising. Just be sure that when you’re targeting specific people with personalized messaging, you’re offering something that isn’t generally available to anyone coming across your advertising.

Advertising to the Buy, Repeat and Refer Crowd

Congratulations! Your earlier advertising efforts were successful, and you’ve now gained your newest customer. But your work is far from over—now your focus needs to be on keeping the customer experience high.

Once someone has converted, your contact with them can be much more specific and personalized through other marketing channels, but it’s still possible to use advertising to keep current clients happy, have them coming back for more, and (most importantly) telling all their friends about you.

One of the most important things for creating repeat business is staying on-brand in your advertising. You’ve worked so hard to get in front of these customers and to win their trust, so you want to continue to hammer home your mission statement and keep your messaging and voice consistent so that your customers feel like they really know and understand your company. This helps to reinforce your trustworthiness, and will make those customers all the more likely to come back themselves and to become a referral engine.

You can also use these loyal customers as a part of your advertising efforts. Including testimonials from those who are already brand-loyal in your advertising campaigns can help to win over those who are still in the trust phase of the hourglass. Indeed, 70 percent of people say that they’re influenced by other consumers’ opinions shared online.

Advertising can be a powerful way to reach your customers and prospects alike. Advertising can be seen by and have an influence on people no matter where they are in marketing hourglass. Identifying the proper audience for your advertising efforts, creating a consistent message that builds trust, and staying top of mind with both prospects and current clients will ensure that you get the most out of your advertising dollars.