How can companies successfully guide customers trough their digital customer journey-and what can they learn from it? The digital transformation is fundamentally changing the way purchasing decisions are made. Social Media and mobile devices offer a wide range of information to the customer, which includes product ratings, price comparisons, recommendations from experts and friends on blogs and social networks.
Just a few years ago, customers went to a shop before purchasing a new product and had the salesperson demonstrate one or two products for them and then bought the one that best suit their needs. When it came to more complex products, of course they also asked their friends or colleagues for their opinions or gained an overview of similar products at a trade fair. Perhaps the customer was familiar with the brand from TV advertising or a consumer report. Or maybe they had heard from a friend that they also own this product. All of this combined to form two or three touch points. Maybe there was one additional contact if service was needed. That was it.
In today’s world, the purchase is preceded by numerous touch points, which companies influence in a targeted way. These include product ratings, price comparisons, recommendations from experts and friends on blogs and social networks. The idea of the customer journey is aligned with this development. Each individual touch point on the way to a customer’s purchase decision is to be viewed as a process and companies have to accompany these customers in the most personal, positive and interesting way possible.
There is no getting past social media
The widespread use of mobile devices, social networks and comparison and review sites, there are an increasing number of touch points in the digital world, which are accessible at any time and anywhere. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat enable customers to communicate at any time and at any place with companies, to inform themselves in a neutral way and to gain an impression of a product or a brand. This all plays into the purchase decision.
According to a research conducted by Forrester, three quarters of all internet users in the USA use social media to contact companies. The art consists of making the best use of these effects. After all, social networks not only provide an opportunity for companies to contact new customers, but also maintain relationships with existing customers, bloggers, influencers and partners. In this way, companies can have a positive influence on how they are perceived in social networks, blogs, rating sites and communities. Therefore, a social media strategy should be at the top of the agenda.
Speaking is silver, listening is gold
Marketers, who just see the investments this will require them to make should be aware that the digital customer journey works in both directions. Companies not only have the opportunity to address their audiences at the many digital touch points. They can also get to know their customers really well for the first time. Mobile devices provide companies with particularly valuable insight into the communication and consumer behaviour of their target groups and allow them to provide relevant content for the respective context using geo-targeting and other powerful tools.
However, mobile devices also show how complex the digital customer journey is and the breadth of digital marketing measures companies have to master to accompany their customers along this journey. They receive push messages on their smartwatch, search for products or vendors using Google on their smartphones, watch a YouTube video about them on their smart TVs, and make their purchase using their tablets. On all these platforms, they expect a consistent customer experience without media breaks and content that has been specifically optimized for each individual platform. Companies that embark on this journey have an effective tool for optimizing their digital and analogue marketing and communication using the customer journey approach.
More information on the methodologies of the Customer Journey approach can be found in our Blog Special.