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Posted By:  ECT News Network on 08/12/2019 in Marketing

To Engage Customers, Think Like a Customer

To Engage Customers, Think Like a Customer

By Jay Miller 

Marketers know that customer experience (CX) is crucial; 60 percent of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience, and 32 percent of consumers will walk away from a brand after one bad experience. But executing a successful CX strategy is much more complex. That's where mapping out the customer journey is beneficial.

At one point in time, the customer journey was linear and fairly predictable. Today, there are dozens of channels and thousands of sites where a customer can learn about and interact with brands. Between online reviews and search, social media and email, the touchpoints a person has with businesses before, during and after purchasing are sporadic and unpredictable, making a marketer's job increasingly complicated.

By assessing all phases throughout the customer journey, marketers don't just improve engagement -- they also spot strengths and weaknesses in their efforts to make ongoing improvements.

Before the Purchase

The customer journey begins during the discovery stage, when a person starts their research into a certain product or service, searching online and in stores, getting recommendations from peers and reading brand- and product-specific reviews.

At this point in the journey, it's a marketer's job to get the customer's eyes on the brand's content in order for the company's products to be taken into consideration.

Paid advertising on search or social media offers the ability to set criteria for who sees an ad, from search terms and location to age range and interests. Narrowing the audience for ads in this way ensures they're  seen only by people most likely to purchase. To be most effective, these ads must direct customers to a clean and relevant page on the company's site.

A customer who has determined the need for a product and is deciding between  options has moved on to the consideration stage. The customer is reading product and brand reviews, and may even add items to an online shopping cart to revisit later.

SaleCycle found that nearly 80 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned. Marketing teams have got to ramp up their efforts at this phase to keep their products in the running by sending regular correspondence and triggering messages based on prior activity.

If prospective customers interacted with a social post, marketing should target future ads toward them; if they scrolled through products on a brand's site, marketing should remind them to come back with an email offer.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that too much communication can backfire; marketers must be strategic in the frequency of marketing messages so they don't overwhelm or irritate their audience.

Triggered cart abandon emails are impactful in getting a customer to complete a purchase. When someone places an item in a cart, it shows that the interest is there; that person may just need a final nudge.

During the Purchase Process

A customer who has determined what product to buy and from where has reached the purchase stage. That customer could make the final transaction in a brick-and-mortar store location, or online through an e-commerce site.

While the marketing push to purchase has ended (for now), marketers still have a responsibility for the customer experience. A clunky checkout process presents an opportunity for customers to back out of their purchase, so an e-commerce site must be user-friendly, with an intuitive order form and seamless payment processing.

After the Purchase

The most vital marketing work happens post-purchase, as it's loyal, repeat customers who provide the most revenue. Organizations that increase retention rates by just 5 percent can increase profits by anywhere from 25-95 percent.

Customers likely provided an email address and other contact information when they made their purchase. Follow-up emails within a week or two can go a long way toward keeping audiences engaged.

These emails should be specific to the customer and product purchased. They can even include a promotion for the customer's next purchase to increase retention. A simple 10 percent discount can be enough to influence a future purchase.

Additionally, marketers can recommend related products, leveraging the insights gathered about the customer, or encourage purchasing the same product again after a certain period of time.

For instance, if a beauty company knows a customer bought a specific size and type of face cream, and that face cream generally lasts three months, the marketing team can send a reminder email just before that three-month mark to remind the customer that it's time to replenish.

Tracking and leveraging products bought, transaction amounts, and specific dates purchases were made gives the opportunity for marketers to make their brand front and center when the time comes to buy again.

In the final phase of the customer journey, the advocacy stage, a person who feels strongly about their experience may mention it to peers or post a review. Today, 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations.

Brand marketers need to participate in this process as well by responding to both positive and negative reviews in an honest, direct and professional manner. By acknowledging kind feedback with appreciation, and negative feedback with sympathy and care, it shows a brand values its customers. That has a positive impact on the brand's reputation among those in the consideration stage of their journey.

The customer journey is a cycle; it starts over again and again as customers consider new products. Therefore it is vital for marketers to continue focusing on the customer journey to provide the most timely, relevant information to move forward.

About the Author
Jay Miller is SVP of marketing at Maropost.

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