Modern consumers have evolved from our past counterparts; so too has our purchase journey. Our parents and grandparents had a much simpler customer journey: physically walk into a store and pay cash at the till for their chosen purchases. Simple, right?
Things are not so simple today.
Now, thanks in great part to the digital nature of contemporary buying and selling, there is no single route to on the customer journey. To be successful, your business must now face the challenge of understanding the unpredictability of the digital customer journey. The key question is, how do we convey trust to consumers at each stage of the online buying process, thereby encouraging them to move on to the next and ultimately convert into a sale?
Businesses that embrace innovation can create a “roadmap” for purchase that will win and keep consumer trust. The journey of each consumer differs, based on their own individual approach to buying and their own level of knowledge. The customer journey is frequently approached from different directions. Today, the sales funnel is no longer linear.
Some elements of the customer journey and the sales funnel, however, have remained consistent and need to be understood.
THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY
Trust must be built between your business and the consumer from the very beginning. Unlike in the past, when buyers were captivated by advertisements alone, modern consumers actively seek out what they need. Paid advertising on its own is not enough today – digital marketing efforts are essential to help support this buying journey.
Whether your business captivates the attention of the consumer first, or the consumer searches for your business first, the “attention” stage of the customer journey is the first contact between both parties.
Thanks to branding, consumers will often have a strong pre-existing association with your brand, prior to ever having become a customer. This association can be positive or negative in nature. It’s very important that your brand builds trust with consumers from the outset. You can do this, in part, by having a well-designed website that:
- Reflects high-quality and visually appealing images
- Has relevant, engaging and informative content
- Provides ease of user experience
- Utilises a blog to showcase expertise and provide interest
- Demonstrates strong and consistent adherence to the business’s branding
If a consumer is confronted with a poorly-designed website with little information and that is hard to navigate, it becomes a major warning as to whether the business is trustworthy (or even legitimate). The end result of this is that consumer trust plummets and your competitors benefit.
The interest stage of the customer journey sees customers conduct their own research into your product or brand. They do this by exploring your website, as well as your reviews and social media presence, ultimately looking for reasons why they should continue with or abandon their purchase intent.
This is where negative feedback from prior customers has power. When posted on public forums, social media, or review sites, negative feedback can be a powerful disincentive and can be very damaging to your business. Although some criticism is inevitable (and actually proves the authenticity of your brand), as a business owner you must have strong customer care systems in place for responding to dissatisfied customers. By doing so, you publicly demonstrate that your brand is responsive and working to resolve issues. Silence is not golden.
This is the point at which consumers are almost ready to close the sale – their decision is, to all intents and purposes, made. Their focus now shifts to practical considerations, including your shipping, delivery and returns policies, and the flexibility to return an unwanted item without difficulty. Any restriction on the returns period may be seen as a negative and it can undermine consumer trust. For maximum clarity, you need to advertise your returns policy from the outset in order to build customer trust.
Simplify this stage. You must ensure that your e-commerce platform adheres to best practice regarding security and encryption. Accept credit card payments or use PayPal or a similar platform. Always provide a customer care phone number and return missed calls promptly.
If you choose to harvest customers’ personal information for retargeting, make sure you seek only essential information and have the customer actively opt-in for newsletters and promotional materials. Make opting-out clear and simple to do.
Completion of the purchase reflects the end of the “sales” aspect of the customer journey. Yet the relationship between your business and the customer has only just begun. For trust to be maintained, the product must be delivered on time, arrive undamaged, meet the customer’s expectations, and queries or complaints must be addressed promptly. Repeat purchasing relies on all of these factors. When this is achieved, customers will most likely purchase from your brand again in future. If, however, an opportunity to build brand loyalty has been lost, it’s likely gone forever.
Every time you sell services or products, ask yourself: “Have we ticked the necessary boxes in the customer journey?”
To freshen up or perhaps even overhaul your website, contact our friendly team at Sparx Digital. We are the premium digital marketing specialists when it comes to advertising, captivating website design, a fantastic user experience, and lasting first impressions! For more information get in touch with our team today by emailing us at [email protected] or give us a call for a chat.