Google Wants You to Rethink Your Customer Journey
(Here is How You Will Do It)
Google has recently published a post on their blog Think With Google saying it’s time for companies rethink their concept of the customer journey.
That marketing funnel has been reshaped and we must tailor our processes to engage each customer individually.
In partnership with Verto Analytics, they analyzed click-stream data from 2,989 individuals for five months and came up with some intriguing results and suggestions.
But what exactly Google is trying to say and how does it affect your business? This is what we are going to discuss below.
The marketing funnel we know is linear
Let’s start with a quick recap. The traditional concept of marketing funnel has three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase.
A customer feels like they need to buy something to satisfy a need, compare a few alternatives, and purchase one of them.
Because it’s never that simple, some experts suggest the existence of intermediate phases, such as Interest, Intent, and Evaluation.
However, one thing was certain: the customer journey was linear, hence the illustrative mention of a funnel is exactly what Google is challenging.
Customer journey has now many shapes, according to Google
As Google’s President of the Americas, Allan Thygesen, explained on his post, research indicates that an online customer journey can now take the form of a diamond, pyramid, hourglass, and more.
With so much information available on the internet, our decision-making process has changed. We go back and forward through stages.
To understand how and what you must do to stay on the top of the game, here are ten takeaways from Google and Vero Analytics research:
1 — No two customer journeys are alike
Remember when you were getting started and wrote a business plan? You collected detailed information about your customers, so to develop a product that would make them happy.
You might have created one or two buyer personas, a client profile to guide you.
According to Google, you can’t rely on it anymore.
Each customer journey is unique.
Each person deals with online information in their own way. And their behavior might change depending on the product or personal circumstances.
Therefore, you must personalize your processes to ensure purchases.
2 — Obsessive research can precede purchase decisions
A significant number of people go through obsessive research before buying something.
You certainly have a friend who takes hours, days, months, visiting websites, asking on social media, checking reviews. Over and over. And it can lead to two conclusions.
Firstly, that some of your customers will need detailed information. Thus, forget brief descriptions and provide as many details about your products as possible.
Secondly, that it might take longer for people to make a purchase. Or they might not buy at all due to analysis paralysis. In this case, prepare your cash flow for it.
3 — Multiple devices and media are used during consideration
During their search for the best product, some customers use several devices.
They start on their cell phones on their way back home, get their tablet after dinner to check more details, and then purchase on their desktop or laptop.
To delight this type of customer, the online side of your business should look perfect on all devices.
Other customers require multiple media. They will read a blog post, watch a review, listen to a podcast, and check 360o degrees images of your product.
Therefore, the best way to keep their attention is by offering multimedia resources, so they don’t leave your website in search for them.
4 — Some customers have a list of favorites
In some cases, you can’t win. There is a segment out there with their hearts set on certain brands. It can be because they had a great previous experience.
Or they don’t want to spend time doing research. Or they buy whatever an influencer tells them to.
What you can do is ensure that you are among those favorite brands. Be on the minds of your potential customers before they need to buy something from you.
Get your brand featured on blogs and magazines they love. They should hear that your product exists often enough, so they will remember it once the time comes.
5 — Add-ons can close deals
Freebies are an old but effective way to increase sales. And it doesn’t need to be an object.
How many times did you buy something in the supermarket because it was 3 for 2?
But what Google is proposing here is something beyond it. They are talking about add-ons, related items that people are likely to buy after a purchase.
You get a new smartphone, you need a case, a charger, a screen protector, a power bank. You book a hotel, and you go looking for flights, car rental, museum tickets.
The tip here is that you offer it all in your website. It can be done either directly or through partnerships.
6 — Your partners are as important as your product
A growing segment of customers is interested in more than your price, features, and delivery process.
They will search who is working with you to make your product, along with where you buy your raw materials.
Many brands are losing sales due to doing business with companies involved in labor exploitation, for instance.
Convenience also plays an important role in another group.
Yes, they have chosen your product. Now, they need to get it. But they won’t just get up and go to your retailer.
They will check if it’s practical to do so. Is it available somewhere close to their home or job? Is there a reliable delivery partner available?
A negative reply to any of these questions might be the reason why you are losing sales.
7 — Data analytics is crucial to selling more and better
But how are you going to predict the journey of each one of your clients? Especially if you deal with hundreds of customers daily?
Google suggests a couple of solutions on their post, and one is data analytics.
Possibly you have your Search Console and Google Analytics up and running.
It’s true you won’t be able to identify individual journeys with them, but you will learn a lot about your customer’s behavior to get started. And these tools are at your disposal for free.
Alternatively, analytics platforms like Humanlyitcs provide users with optimized and predetermined customer journeys for their business that helps them find the best course of action to improve their traffic volumes, conversions rate and revenues generated.
8 — Efficient mobile experience is mandatory
As mentioned before, many people use their cellphones to evaluate products.
They read information, watch videos, and even make purchases through the device. What you must do right now is have a look at your website, landing pages, social media, and decide if they are offering the best mobile experience.
Remember that your customers will be doing it on the metro or while streaming their favorite TV show. You won’t have their undivided attention.
Also, go to your Google Analytics and check their devices and internet connection. If they are using old models or dealing with slow providers, you will have more challenges to overcome.
9 — Machine learning will be your secret weapon
You will need to learn about your customers’ journey while they are on it so as not to lose any sales. But it’s unlikely that you, either as by yourself or as a team, can do it fast enough.
However, a machine can. And that is why Google mentioned machine learning as something crucial for online businesses.
Machine learning tools can help you to analyze what each one of your customers does on your website.
They can identify patterns and offer them alternatives along the way. Their reports will also help you to improve the way you interact with your clients in the future.
10 — Focus on what gives you more profit
Google suggests you should stop marketing to the average. Many businesses target as many people as they can, trying to make the most of what they get.
But the suggestion here is that you choose your customers and not the other way around.
The reason behind it is simple cost-benefit. Tailoring your online business to each customer will have a price. And you don’t want to waste it on who won’t give you a valuable return.
For this reason, pick a niche and learn as much as you can about that specific segment.
What Google is saying makes sense. Do your own research if you are unsure. Ask your family and friends how they make purchasing decisions online.
You will notice that each person has a unique way of doing it. Yes, you will see patterns. But ask them why they gave up on a promising brand, and you will hear very specific complaints.
Customers want to be acknowledged. They hope you care enough about them to tailor your service. But the meaning of personalization will vary from person to person, and day after day.
So, start by applying the ideas in this article. This way you will be one step closer to understanding your customer journey.