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Understanding Your Customer Journey

Published:
18/07/2018
Author:
Steve Indersmith

Understanding your customer’s journey is a key to success.

In 1898, E. St Elmo Lewis came up with a model to describe the customer’s journey from the time the customer was attracted to the product or service until the time they purchased it. Mr Lewis was later inducted into the American Hall of Fame posthumously, in 1951.

His model is still used today and is often given the acronym AIDA. This stands for:
•    Awareness – the customer is aware of the existence of a product or service
•    Interest – actively expressing an interest in a product 
•    Desire – aspiring to a particular brand or product
•    Action – taking the next step towards purchasing the chosen product

This model now has many variations depending on the value and complexity of the product or service being marketed, but it is just as relevant today as it was way back in 1898.

The journey to your door
It is very important if your advertising is going to be successful that you understand the customer’s journey to your door. If your product is inexpensive, such as fast food, flowers or a beauty treatment, then the time from AWARENESS to ACTION may be days, hours or even minutes. A purchase that costs considerably more may take weeks, months or even years for action to occur. 

What are you doing to enter the AWARENESS stage? How are you ensuring that once a consumer is aware of you that you stay on their radar? What is your strategy to move the consumer through the buying cycle and to ensure they don’t get distracted or worse - still buy from your competitor?

Along the customer’s journey, there are many touchpoints before a decision to purchase is made. An understanding of what these touchpoints are and how they influence the customer is so critical if you are going to be successful. A touchpoint can be described as any interaction a consumer has with your business - not just human contact. The number of touchpoints will vary across industries. 

Let me use my industry and the advertising element as an example. I believe there are around 10 touchpoints needed to take a client from awareness to purchasing advertising in one of my publications. Those touchpoints will involve receiving a magazine, phone calls, emails, face-to-face meetings, visiting our website, digital remarketing, reviewing marketing material and word of mouth. Each touchpoint must move the customer a little further along the purchase cycle. Each touchpoint risks losing the customer should their experience not be a positive one. 

This article, however, is not about the customer’s experience but the customer’s journey to your door - the journey to purchase. I constantly get told by business owners the customer was just driving by or just happened to notice their business while on the bus. Really? If we accept there will be numerous touchpoints before the customer arrives at your doorstep, then we are obligated to delve a little deeper. We all pass hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses on the way to work every day. How many can you remember - and why? The truth of the matter is, usually something such as advertising has created AWARENESS in the customer. Now every time they pass your business their INTEREST is peaked and your business, product or service stands out like a beacon.

Similarly, business owners are all too quick to accept “I was on your website” rather than drill down and determine how they became AWARE of your business and what sparked their INTEREST.

Next time you use a search directory such as Google, ask yourself what is it that had you select a business or product from the search results. Did you know the business before selecting them? Was it the excerpt or page title that got your attention? Answers to these questions will help you formulate your advertising message and marketing strategy.

Here are a few questions to help you understand the buying cycle for your business.
•    What was it that triggered AWARENESS of your business, product or service? Was it dvertising, signage, point of sales, word of mouth? There will be several.
•    How was their INTEREST peaked? Think features and benefits, confidence, price, location, awards, reviews, risk.
•    What was the customer’s DESIRE to do business with you? Remember, they could easily have gone to your competition. The reason may be emotional, professional or simply financial.

A clear understanding of the customer’s journey to your door will have enormous benefits in ensuring that your advertising and sales process is effective.

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