In every process or procedure, there are steps taken towards a specific goal. In addition to contributing to that process, each step in that process sets the stage for the next, drawing nearer and nearer to that set goal.
For any business, it would be easier to proactively act when you have all the data you need around your customers’ journey right at your fingertips. We are in an era of ever-evolving trends, technology, and buying preferences.
What is a Consumer Sales Journey?
Think of the Consumer Journey as a road map that details how a potential customer becomes aware of brands, their interaction with these brands, and beyond. You can think of it as a road map that documents the entire experience of being a customer.
The Customer Sales Journey involves different points of contact or touchpoints with a product or service, a brand, or a company via all available channels until they perform a desired target action.
- Major target actions are inquiries, orders, or purchases.
- Touchpoints refer to any kind of contact point such as: traditional advertising, online marketing activities, word-of-mouth, or information from review sites.
- Available channels refer to telephone, service interactions, marketing communications, web, etc.
As customers learn about products, services, and brands by moving across multiple channels, the shape of the consumer journey changes. These include:
- Awareness Stage
- Consideration Stage
- Decision Stage
These periods/stages of exposure play an influential role in shaping the consumer sales journey. Today’s consumer journey no longer follows a linear process. The journey is now splintered with multiple touchpoints across websites, mobile devices, and traditional media.
Why is a Consumer Sales Journey Important?
The first step in knowing how or what makes consumers make decisions is the first step you must undertake before tackling the difficult part of focusing strategies and spending on the most influential touchpoints.
Having spent considerable resources and building a clear understanding of customer journeys involving your business, you are now able to improve customer experience with your brand, thus enabling you to:
- Minimise negative consumer experiences through the identification of key steps and decision points to ensure that you provide accurate information that is accessible to all your customer types.
- Improve customer retention by understanding how customers transition through each stage in their purchase lifecycle. This enables relevant and well-connected conversations with the customer and help them seamlessly move towards a positive decision point.
- Identify communication gaps, ensuring that there are no conflicting messages are being received. For example, the use of social media to respond to customer feedback regardless of if they are positive or negative.
- Understand core customer journey paths. You can immediately spot where additional development is warranted to provide the biggest impact.
- Understand your metrics in identifying customer’s progress and fall out points, providing opportunities for you to bring customers back on board.
NOTE: Though it is logical to keep close track of touchpoints, do not miss the bigger and more important picture; the customer’s end-to-end experience. By looking at your customer experience through their eyes along the entire journey taken, you can really begin to understand how to meaningfully improve performance.
What are Consumer Stages?
When we talk about a customer journey, it simply refers to interactions a potential customer has on their journey from first finding you up to the point of becoming a customer. But, instead of just focusing on when or how a customer closed into a sale, the journey looks more at the full experience of a customer.
It is generally accepted that there are three key stages in a customer’s journey, and they are: Awareness Stage; Consideration Stage; and Decision Stage.
Some marketers include Retention and Advocacy as later stages of a customer journey. These work wonders since they enable you to keep track of repeat customers and a lifetime value of a customer.
By breaking down the customer journey, it allows you insights and understanding what feelings a customer might have at a particular stage. With this knowledge and understanding, you will be better equipped on devising ways on how to reach them.
Let’s explore each stage to better understand what they mean:
The awareness stage is the point where a user first encounters a brand. The important thing to remember at this stage is that the potential customer is still not looking to buy. The fact is, they are looking for information and/or solution to a problem they might have.
It will work to your advantage if you can provide resources to help them along in solving their pain point. You can get their attention by supplying them free resources using the following sales techniques, such as:
- Lead magnets
- Blog Articles
- Free Trainings/Webinars/Masterclasses
- Video Resources, or
- Facebook groups (just to name a few)
At the awareness stage, it is all about understanding what the consumer’s concern is and providing them with information on how they can solve it.
The second customer journey stage is the point where the customer already knows the solution to their issue or pain point. However, this is also the stage where they don’t know where to go to solve it.
During this stage, the consumer is now on the path to learning available products or services they can utilise to solve their problem. Pertinent question they ask at the consideration stage, instead of asking what or why, are:
- How to fix…
- How to treat…
- How to improve…
Don’t rest your laurels, there’s work to be done yet!
At the decision stage, the consumer has already decided on the type of solution that best suit their problem and is now looking to close or to purchase. It is also at this stage where they are weighing their options and reviewing providers that can best cater to their needs.
Here is where you can make or break the deal. It is imperative for you, at this stage, to make them understand what makes you different, better, and more appealing than your competitors.
It is important at this stage for you to address what your consumers are looking for by ensuring you positively relay:
- What makes your offering special?
- What price points are they looking at?
- How will they receive the solution to their problem?
To help you better prepare for this stage, you must have a ready answer to these questions:
- What is your consumer thinking or feeling?
- What action does your consumer need to take?
- What or where is the consumer researching?
- How will you help your consumer to migrate to your business?
NOTE: Each customer wants different things in each stage of their journey. But each stage basically addressed by identifying their need at each stage. To break it down:
In the Awareness Stage, they are looking for solutions to solve a specific issue. In the Consideration Stage, they want to learn what tools, products, services are available to them. And at the Decision Stage, they are weighing their options, looking at recommendations before finally deciding to convert.
Each of these main stages is vital as it helps move your customers along their journey to ultimately work to your advantage in driving more sales.
Knowing and understanding these consumer stages helps you determine which ACTION needs to be completed. You can improve on these further by answering the following questions:
- What is/are consumer touchpoint/s to your business?
- How can you optimise touchpoint/s optimised for conversion?
It is vital that you must be present regardless of what stage potential customers are at, or whatever channel they are using.
Understanding the consumer decision-making process is key if your aim is to attract more customers and get them to make that crucial purchase. The Growth Manager can give you a hand in understanding this process through our powerful Consumer Sales Journey guide.
Get in touch with us, and we can help you get in tune with your ideal customers and genuinely understand what it takes to reach them.