The Stages of a Customer Journey
Now that we’ve established how to create a customer journey, and the need to audit periodically, we should break down the exact stages of the journey.
Awareness is all about informing consumers that you and your products or services exist. A lot of executional tactics in this stage are centered around areas like social media channels, paid media, SEO and traditional channels like print and PR.
Education is where you start to lay the foundation of how the consumer has an issue that you can help to resolve. Executional tactics in this stage are often content like whitepapers and brochures.
Needs recognition is the first chance to provide some insights on how you offer products or services that can help resolve the consumer’s issue. Tactics at this stage are often more product specific and talk about the benefits of using the product or service.
Research occurs once the prospect is aware of the problem and potential solutions. Prospects are seeking existing data to prove the claims that your product or service can help their needs or data that helps validate your company. Executional tactics in this stage include content such as short- and long-form research reports.
Qualification is the point where prospects are validating the research with third-party opinions and other methods. Tactics and content during this stage are typically testimonials or additional research and insights.
Evaluation is where prospects see the product or service in action firsthand or through secondhand sources like videos. Content and tactics in this stage are often free samples or demo videos.
Decision is the pivotal stage where the prospect considers everything they have learned in the previous stages and makes the final call to either purchase or start over in their search for a product or service.
Once the decision is finalized, a purchase is made, and the prospect ends the first half of the journey, becoming a customer who is now entering the second half of the journey.
Adoption is the first stage post-purchase and is meant to help customers have a positive experience with the product or service. Executional tactics and content at this stage include training documents and other onboarding materials.
Loyalty is generated by following up with the customer to ensure they are having a positive experience. This can be completed in many ways, such as email surveys, sales rep calls, and quick and effective responses from customer support or community managers.
Retained customers cost less than acquiring new customers. Therefore, retention is an important stage in the journey. Keeping a customer once they have been earned can be done through many tactics, such as providing an easy process to auto-renew products or coupons valid toward the next purchase of the product or service.
Advocacy is critical in closing the loop and rebuilding the prospect pool. If customers are happy, then they are likely to recommend your company to others in search of the same solution or similar services. Some tactics to consider in this stage include offering referral bonuses and free promotional items that display your logo.
- Customer journey mapping is an important exercise that can be completed in three easy steps: discovery, auditing existing content and filling in the gaps with new content.
- The funnel is no longer a funnel. It’s more like an infinity symbol that extends beyond the point of purchase.