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Map Out Your Customer Decision Journey

The traditional "sales funnel" is officially dead. You need to identify, strengthen and grow your number of customer touch points — to come out on top at the moment of purchase.

Companies used to view their marketing efforts as a sales funnel. In this traditional model, a company would first try to get as many people into this funnel as possible. They would then push their prospects through stages of awareness, familiarity, consideration, and eventual purchase. If it took ten prospects to close one sale, well then the answer for more sales was simply to get ten times that number of new prospects into the top of the funnel.

This worked well until the rise of the Internet and social media empowered customers and revolutionized customer decision-making across the globe. Nowadays the customer is in control – not the company. A recent study by McKinsey & Company identified that two-thirds of the touch points during active evaluation of a product or service involve consumer-driven marketing activities: activities initiated by the consumer such as reaching out to social media contacts or reading online reviews. Only one-third resulted from company-driven marketing: activities initiated by the company such as an email campaign or paid media. This means that the traditional sales funnel model entirely ignores two-thirds of the average consumer’s interactions with a brand.

Widespread internet access and social media allow prospects to explore brands more comparatively through a wider variety of research tools, and determine which companies they want to engage with, and how. As a result, consumers are as invested in ongoing engagement with a company as they are in the sale itself.

The traditional sales funnel of interruption and promotion, therefore, is dead. But instead of viewing this as a loss, you can turn this into an opportunity. It’s a matter of turning the old funnel lengthwise now and viewing the entire process as a constant journey with your brand. This will allow you to target your marketing to this new decision-making process — to be in the right place at the right time and interact in ways that aid your customer’s evaluation process.

Find the Most Effective Places to Interact
To successfully inject your company into your customer’s evaluation process, begin by mapping out your customer decision journey. At TribalVision, we map out every single touch point with initial consideration of your offering at one end, and the moment of purchase and beyond at the other, and then think about what we can do to strengthen each of these touch points.

At any point in this journey, an interaction with your brand will affect a customer’s decision. This means that you need to look at every touch point a prospect could have with your brand: before, during, and after purchase.

By aligning your marketing with the consumer decision journey, you will gain influence over consumer-driven marketing activities, such as online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. It will also enable you to focus your marketing initiatives on the most influential touch points, saving money that might have been spent inefficiently and making your customers feel that you’re in touch with their needs and wants.

Strengthen Your Key Touch Points
By mapping out the customer decision journey, you can identify, strengthen and grow your available customer touch points to maximize your chances of coming out on top at the moment of purchase.

Some primary touch points to strengthen or introduce include:

  1. Identification of a problem or need by a prospect
  2. Searches for vendors and consultants (often via the internet)
  3. Requests on your website for additional information and quotes
  4. Calls to customer service and troubleshooting
  5. Feedback on products and the buying experience (often public)
  6. Social media engagement on community and influencer properties
  7. Email engagement

Each of these touch points can be strengthened when considered carefully. You might develop personalized landing pages specific to a keyword that is Googled, or send relevant automated email drop campaigns to someone clicking on a specific topic in an email or a website. You can develop customer service scripts to answer the most common troubleshooting problems, or monitor the Web for any time your brand comes up you can then reply to it and engage with it. You can write differentiated compelling copy that clearly speak to pain points during the identification of problem stage of decision making.

While you are strengthening key touch points, remember that you must create opportunities for engagement both before and after purchase. Although the initial purchase is key, the real work comes after as you determine how to engage that customer for many years and maximize lifetime value.

In the Trenches Takeaway
Bring your team together to ensure everyone knows their role in creating a wow experience for your customer. Map out the journey that you think customers are going to be taking with your brand. Focus on the individual touch points such as calling customer service or trying to cancel a subscription. Think also about where these touch points take place; channels could include your website, mobile application, call center, and storefront, to name a few. You can then discover the touch points that are missing, and brainstorm ways to strengthen your company’s presence. Finally, designate whose role is it to make sure those touch points take place in the organization.


Author Bio

An entrepreneur with 20+ years of marketing experience, Chris Ciunci is the Founder and Managing Partner of TribalVision, an outsourced marketing department for hire with offices in Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of author of Market Smarter: It’s time to look at marketing in a whole new light.