Getting customer service and marketing right is particularly important for small businesses. When you don’t have the might of a large marketing budget behind you, ensuring your customers love your service and return to you repeatedly is critical to building longevity.
Gaining a deserved reputation for good customer service is also a great way to attract new customers to your business. A good customer experience does not have to be expensive to reap rewards. With customers becoming more savvy in choosing where to spend their money, a business must ensure every step of its customer journey is friction-free. People will readily recommend services they are happy with, making word of mouth a vital part of your marketing efforts.
To create a memorable experience for your customers, you first need to understand how your customers interact with your business.
What Is the Customer Journey?
A customer journey map for your small business doesn’t need to be complicated. They are simply a representation of how your customers interact with your business. A customer journey map will set out your marketing efforts at each stage of the customer journey and allow you to focus on what’s working and stop any efforts that have proved unsuccessful.
It’s important to note that the customer journey differs from the buyers’ journey. Not every customer will purchase from you every time they interact with you.
A well-developed customer journey map for your small business will help you answer the following questions (this list of questions is not exhaustive, and your customer journey might look different depending on your particular service or product):
- How do customers find your website? Where do your leads come from?
- What are your customers’ wants and needs?
- How do your customers feel about your products and services?
- Do you know why your customers buy from you rather than a competitor?
- Do you understand what the buying experience is like for your customer?
While the idea of the customer journey is simple, understand that for some companies, there may be more than one type of customer and, therefore, more than one type of customer journey.
Why Is Customer Journey Mapping Important?
Mapping your customer journey is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it helps you better understand your customers’ needs. Developing new products and services takes time, money, and resources. When your budget is limited, you have to be careful about what you invest in. Understanding your customer journey gives you a good idea of what your customers want and helps you focus your marketing efforts.
Knowing how your customers interact with your sales process can help reduce frustration —and increase your sales. If buying from you is challenging, it’s likely that potential customers either don’t attempt it at all or your cart abandonment rates are high.
Identifying pain points (such as a confusing website or frustrating online buying process) in your customer journey and fixing them will increase customer satisfaction and the likelihood that those customers will return to you again and again.
What Are The Stages of the Customer Journey?
Before addressing how to develop a customer journey map, we need to identify the different stages of the customer journey.
A typical customer journey consists of five stages (although it might look different for your business):
Awareness is the point at which your customer becomes familiar with your brand.
Knowing how a customer first finds you is important as it can help you focus on how and where you market yourself. If most of your customers come through Facebook advertising, then there is no point in spending money on Google ads. Knowing this information helps you control your marketing budget.
Customers can become aware of you in several ways, but the most common is through online advertising (Facebook, Google and TikTok), social media channels, SEO and cold emailing.
The types of marketing common at this stage of the process include:
- Educational content such as blog posts, ebooks, white papers or reports
- Social media posts
After awareness comes consideration. Once a customer has found you, they will evaluate your offer against your competitors. They’ll compare benefits, features, prices, reviews, and limitations to see which suits their unique situation best. They may speak with family and friends or check online forums.
The types of marketing (and content) common at this stage include:
- Blog posts containing product listicles, reviews and comparison guides
- Product-led white papers
- Case studies
Decision and Purchase
When a customer has completed their research and consideration, they will move to making a purchase (or deciding to buy from a competitor). At this stage, marketing might include:
- Free demos
- Free consultations
- Pricing and product sign-up pages on your website
Buying from you does not end the journey. The retention stage assumes your customer will purchase from you again, but it is important to understand what makes a customer return to you so that you can make sure your marketing efforts encourage this behavior.
Retention strategies include:
- Having a seamless online purchasing process
- Making a customer service team readily available
- Having extensive FAQs online
- Having a generous returns policy
- Providing a high-quality product or service
The advocacy stage (or loyalty stage) is where customers don’t just buy from you; they become your greatest fans advocating to others about your services and products.
Strategies for encouraging customers to become advocates include all of the strategies already set out above. However, some other strategies to think about include:
- Investing more in product and service development
- Having a referral program
- Providing discounts and special offers
Developing A Customer Journey Map
There is no one way to develop a customer journey map; however, a good place to start is understanding who your customers are. Earlier in this article, we touched on the idea that there can be more than one type of customer journey because you may have more than one type of customer. So, we advocate understanding who the customer is before you determine what their customer journey is.
The stages of developing a customer journey map:
- Identify persona: Which customer are you developing a journey for? How old are they? What are their favorite products or services? What job do they have? What social media platforms do they use? Spend time understanding who your customer is because this will inform the development process for your customer journey map.
- Research: Look at your customer service data. What are your customers asking for? What products and services do your competitors provide? Do they offer discounts or special offers? How does their customer service differ from yours? Other data that will prove useful here is SEO data (where are your customers coming from, and how are they finding you?).
- Map out the touchpoints: Now you understand who your customer is and how they tend to interact with you, you can start to map out all the touchpoints on their journey. Common touchpoints can include your website, social media, product demos, sales calls, emails and customer support.
- Validate with actual customers: Once you have an idea of what your customer journey looks like, ask existing customers for their thoughts. They will be able to point out if you’ve missed anything on the journey.
- Analyse and Optimize: Once you’ve gathered your customer responses and all your data, you can start to analyze your customer journey and optimize the places where there are concerns. You’re looking to make your customer journey as easy as possible. This stage can include optimizing your website to make it clearer and easier to use, improving your returns process, focusing your marketing efforts in one particular area or platform or improving your customer service offering.
The Customer Journey and Marketing for Local Businesses
Developing your customer journey is just the beginning. The optimization process is an ongoing one and can be challenging without the right marketing tools. Especially because, as a local business, your funds and time are limited. Many of the platforms and tools currently available are expensive and aimed at businesses larger than yours. If you’ve spent time looking for a marketing solution for a local or small business and struggled to find something that fits your needs and budget, Surefire Local is the solution.
We have developed a local marketing platform with software and tools aimed at local businesses. We provide business intelligence marketing software at a fraction of the cost of other tools or agencies that help you manage the most critical online marketing activities within one platform. We can help you optimize your lead generation, reduce your cost-per-lead, and generate more revenue for your business using our all-in-one marketing platform. Request a demo today and see what we can do for you!