As a millennial, I experienced the exponential growth of technology at the forefront and continue to be amazed. If you sit down and really ponder about the incredible progress that has been made in a matter of a decade, it’s quite breathtaking. That being said, the question I frequently ask myself is “How has the customer journey model evolved and what are the new criteria of consumer buying behavior?” The reasoning behind my exclusion of the word Digital from the question above is because it’s included as default within my mind.
I breakdown the customer journey into 6 key stages: Awareness, Research, Decision, Pre-Purchase, Purchase, and Post-Purchase. In each and every step, digital experience is deeply involved if not the center theme. Not to mention, each step is closely intertwined with one another but we’ll get back to that topic after going through the 6 stages of the customer journey.
Let’s start off by talking about AWARENESS. We all know and love (to some extent) the classic approaches of push marketing, since it’s the posterchild of capitalism and consumerism. However, push marketing is no longer fully reliant on the traditional methods of random TV ads, billboards, or magazine inserts you came across 20 years ago. The power of push marketing lives within the online experience of targeted ads based on personal usage patterns and activity. With regards to accurate targeted push messaging, it is hard to succeed without a CRM platform that possesses a database of prospective customers and it’s essential for retaining existing customers. Push marketing is simply a great way to generate a need, especially when pushes of information are delivered through a social media platform that is interactive.
Let’s move along to pull marketing, where RESEARCH comes into play. SEO tactics have played a major role for the past 10 years and continues to be a key player directing prospective customers to applicable purchasing options. However, there is much more to pull marketing in this day of age. First and foremost, the website is now the face of an organization and it’s where prospective customers go to validate. Thus, the wow factor is pretty much a requirement, in addition to showing up at the top of search results via SEO tactics. Linking to that will be the organization’s social media sites, which will make the research experience more personable. Then comes in consideration all of the rating sites, blogs, review videos, and individual SNS posts which are an overwhelming amount of information for the prospective customer. This is why it’s important for websites nowadays to integrate as many of these information sources as possible (i.e., Eat24 and Yelp). Easy access to essential information through the main corporate website is a key differentiator. Especially because word of mouth is no longer limited to that particular individual’s social circle but has extended out to encompassing the entire world. Another point to note is the significance of involving the prospective customer and utilizing that individual in actually helping spread the message. For example, if a discount coupon is posted on the organization’s social media site, it could be shared by prospective customers to folks within their personal network.
Now shifting gears to the DECISION stage, I’d actually like to bring up the takeover of mobile devices. Recently, consumers make purchasing decisions on the fly due to the enhanced capabilities of smart phones and tablets. This leads into the conversation of responsive web design. It is elemental that the organization’s website is visually pleasing and functional on all devices, not limited to the generic PC. Not to forget, access and usage patterns originating from mobile devices must be captured, so that data could be utilized for future marketing campaigns, sales strategy, and product development. Furthermore, consumers always want to minimize contact with a customer service representative, hence seamlessly being able to send an inquiry or concern through a social media application is certainly a value add. And what better platform than a mobile device to do so.
This concludes Part 1 of this article but be on the watch out for Part 2, which will involve the last three stages of the customer journey. Moreover, I’ll discuss why each of the stages are tightly woven into one another and the reasoning behind a cyclical customer journey via brand awareness and loyalty.