As an Inbound Writer for Lean Labs, Melissa writes about high-converting websites and customer-centric marketing. She's an avid traveler, with trips to Iceland, Ukraine, and Portugal under her belt. She currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina with her dog, Morrie.
If you could put $100 into a vending machine, and get $200 back, how many $100 bills would you put in? If you could generate that kind of sales from your website, you would never stop investing in it.
A lot of brands make the mistake of not investing enough in their website strategy. They may spend thousands on the design, but if the strategy doesn’t match the buyer journey, it results in a lot of wasted effort.
Companies need to invest in understanding the typical buyer journey of their best customer. They must identify the challenges, desires, and objections their best customer will face along that journey. And, when a website aligns and educates visitors along that path, you will see more leads, and ultimately more sales.
The question isn’t whether or not you need to invest time, energy, and budget into customer journey mapping, but how much.
Following The Path Of An Ideal Customer
An effective customer journey map essentially measures the friction that customers feel and experience along the buyer journey. The goal is to identify, then resolve those points of friction.
If a customer journey map reveals a lot of waste, don't worry. That’s the goal.
No customer experience is perfect, and the point of the map is to find the strengths and weaknesses in your current process. To show how to effectively assess the current paths of your customer, we've created a scenario with a fictional SaaS company, AttributeHQ.
You can use our free Customer Journey Map template to follow along, or start your own.
Step #1: Identify An Ideal Customer
One of AttributeHQ's buyer personas is a young professional named Erica. Erica works full-time at a data protection startup in Sacramento, California as a marketing director. She spends a lot of time creating content and fine-tuning campaign performance. She also runs live events, webinars, and works with content syndication partners to drive inbound efforts.
During the buyer persona development process, AttributeHQ learned a lot of about Erica. They understand her external and internal struggles, as well as where she looks for solutions. They've already identified what drives her to take action, her goals, and the barriers she faces in adapting a solution such as AttributeHQ. All of that high-level information is already covered.
Step #2: Outline The Customer's Specific Problem
The next part is outlining a specific problem. Let's say Erica's company requires her to deliver a quarterly marketing performance report. In the C-Suite, they don't know which campaigns are driving results. Since Erica's team uses a few marketing tools to build campaign assets, this report can be difficult to build. Attribution has historically been an issue.
Erica gets stressed and starts to ask questions like:
- Should I use another marketing tool? I don't want to learn something new, but I really need to find ways to show the ROI for our campaigns.
- How can I show accurate results for all our different channels? The data is all over the place.
- How can I solve this problem quickly? I have two months until the end of the quarter.
During this initial stage, Erica is overwhelmed. This is the kind of problem that can inspire a customer journey map.
Step #3: Document The Customer's Current Experience
In the early stages, Erica will research a solution for her team's attribution and organizational issues, probably starting with a simple Google search.
She may search for things such as "how to master attribution," or "how to structure a quarterly report."
During one of her Google searches, she discovers an AttributeHQ blog post, and clicks on the CTA at the bottom of the post for a free reporting template download. From there, we must continue the customer journey map with an honest, truthful narrative.
From beginning to end, you need to document every single little step it will take for Erica to become a customer.
Step #4: Assess Areas Of Friction
Hypothetically, Erica converted on a free 30-Day trial of your platform. Then, she became a paying customer.
When going through the map, you see that a major area of friction for Erica was the wait-time to gain access to her trial.
At AttributeHQ, leads need to wait for a sales rep call and sign them up for a trial, instead of gaining instant access. This gave Erica doubts about working with AttributeHQ.
In this case, her need for the service outweighed her impatience. But, the wait period could have resulted in losing that customer.
Now, you've identified an area of friction.
The Problem: It takes too long for a lead to gain access to the trial.
The Solution: Automate your process to get qualified leads on the trial, sooner. Preferably without talking to a rep.
There will be a lot of little opportunities that spring out of his process. After the next step, we'll return to how to make those opportunities actionable.
Step #5: Document The Customer's Optimal Experience
Another map you need to create now is the optimal experience map.
In this map, you'll craft an ideal scenario about how Erica found AttributeHQ, signed up for a trial, and how she became a customer.
Consider the following when developing this perfect scenario:
- How could you have sped up Erica's trial process?
- What types of content would Erica have benefitted from?
- What extra support could Erica require when starting the trial?
- How could AttributeHQ bring Erica through the funnel, faster?
- What kind of marketing personalization is your process missing?
During this component, consider every option. Regardless of any barriers, aim for the best possible scenario.
Step #6: Create Your Action Plan
Using Erica's customer journey maps, outline a plan of action. Make a list of all of the issues Erica faced during her customer journey, considering:
- All of the barriers she experiences from point-A to point-B.
- Every interaction Erica had with AttributeHQ, and the outcomes of those engagements.
- The content she was served, and whether or not that content was effective.
- Tactics to qualify sooner, and move her through the journey quicker.
- The data that's collected about Erica, and where that data goes.
As a team, you should assess and prioritize all of Erica's issues based on time, resources, and the gravity of the problem. Prioritize any issues that could potentially lose a SaaS client.
Step #7: Optimize and Enhance
When it comes to getting a customer from point-A to point-B sooner, it's all about being at the right place at the right time. During the early stages, as Erica engaged with you, your website should have collected valuable information about Erica.
You can personalize content and calls-to-action to message to Erica effectively, using tactics such as:
- Progressive profiling and smart forms. These enable your brand to gather more information without annoying the prospect. Progressive profiling iterative forms to ask a few questions at a time, instead of hitting them with a long form at once.
- Smart content. With smart content, you can pre-establish certain conditions that tell your site which stage the lead is at. As a result, Erica would have been targeted with top-of-funnel messaging or offers at the start. After she engaged more, she would see middle-of-funnel messaging or offers, since it fit where she was in the process.
With Erica being a qualified, incentivized customer, another popular tactic is to automate various aspects of her customer journey. Based on her actions, she could accelerate through the funnel faster.
Turn Your Website Into a Sales Vending Machine
The key to customer satisfaction is a deep understanding of your personas. This requires continuous optimization, research, and improvement. You're never done enhancing your website and learning about your customers.
This is why the customer journey mapping exercise is so effective. It reveals gaps and opportunities that your team can make actionable through data-driven tactics. When you invest in this kind of understanding of your customer, you build more effective website pages, content, and overall marketing processes.
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