Marketers’ primary and most important goal is to reach customers when they are most likely to be exposed to external influences, in order to have leverage in their decision-making processes. Those moments, when consumers are open to influence, are the most sought by companies, as they provide a room for action to the benefit of business results. In other terms, reaching customers at the right time through the right touchpoint produces a significant advantage. Traditionally, marketers aimed to envision customers’ decision-making through a funnel logic: from the recognition of customers’ needs to their brand consideration-sets and purchasing decisions. The goal was to understand customers’ needs, capture their attention, reaching them when those needs arise and be part of their consideration sets when considering the purchase. Such steps would have increased the likelihood of striking the competition. Yet, although the importance of understanding customers’ needs has not changed, this concept might be obsolete in the current digital landscape.
Nowadays, customers are far more aware, discerning, tech and commercially-savvy, and sophisticated. They tend to educate themselves and to have higher expectations, an evolving set of needs and, as a consequence, they undergo a different decision-making process. Consumers embark on an actual decision journey that leads them from initial consideration, to evaluation and search of potential offers and deals, to the actual purchase, and most importantly they are inclined to value their post-purchase experiences. Embracing and structuring marketing initiatives around such a customer decision journey would secure your business in achieving more efficient and effective results, given that it is the most feasible practice to attain customers’ attention. Furthermore, adopting a customer decision journey approach also implies your business would focus its efforts on customer experience and loyalty since the goal is not to push the customers through a funnel which ends in purchases.
The imperative and main purpose, instead, is to achieve higher customer retention and loyalty rates, as those are demonstrated to be the most valuable source of competitive advantages and a key differentiator. Retaining customers is shown to be more cost-effective than settling acquisition campaigns, which grant a mediocre in-flow of purchases which is not stable in the long-run, and reports higher customer churns. Moreover, investing in your existing customer-base also improves brand loyalty. This, in turn, generates a virtuous cycle among consumers, that will spontaneously behave as brand advocates, ending up recommending your product and services to their networks, supporting new consumer acquisition.
Customer experience is taking the centre stage in customer journeys
Streaming directly from the customer decision journey, the growing importance of analyzing and structuring a coherent and cohesive customer journey has gained business focus, considering consumers tend to value and respond positively to personalized and relevant journeys. Particularly, each step in their journey needs to meet customers’ needs and expectations, providing a seamless experience. Hence, designing and structuring customer journeys which effectively foster brand loyalty require companies to invest in customer experience. In order to design such journeys and boost loyalty it is recommended to focus on four main practices:
– Automation, such as email automation, which allows companies to structure personalized campaigns, based on prospect interests, attitudes, and expectations. Delivering targeted campaigns, by bridging data and insights about your audience, such as browsing history, convey them through the right channels at the right moment, your marketing initiatives will result to be more effective. This, in turn, influences the overall experience, journey and ultimately consumers’ loyalty.
– Personalization, both in terms of specified content, responsive design, and 1:1 conversation has a positive impact on your customer experience. Users need to feel valued and your company is urged toward recognizing and awarding them. Personalization strategies also include product recommendations, relevant and time responsive content, different templates for different channels, in order to meet the constantly shifting nature of customers’ needs.
– Engagement, which is one of the core elements in customer loyalty growth. Consumers need to be constantly engaged, to feel part of a community and that they have the freedom to express their opinions, which are extremely valuable for your organization. Customer surveys, pools, and discussion, foster engagement and grant your company to take more informed decisions on the basis of data collected.
– Analysis, which might be considered the basis of the whole structure, considering the increasing accessibility of data, which need to be analyzed and translated into insights. These provide a considerable and esteemed source of information supporting your organization in anticipating customers’ needs and make more educated decisions in terms of commercial initiatives.
In a nutshell, by designing a customer journey revolving around customer experience would ultimately foster brand loyalty, and establish long-lasting relationships with your audience. This differentiator, in turn, nurtures outstanding competitive advantages, also securing your business with the capabilities to constantly innovate and adapt to change, by co-evolving with its most loyal customers.