Sales today are no longer about moving people through the traditional funnel. Current B2B marketers must attract buyers, influence their decision process, and create relationships with a finely tuned mix of content across social, digital and traditional channels.
It’s a well-known fact that buyers now control their journey through the sales process. They choose how they view their online content, and how they prefer to shop. You, in turn, must now find your way in this new land ruled by customers. Here’s some advice to help you get there by engaging customers across available channels in a disciplined and effective way.
Know Your Customer’s Needs
The customer has changed; there is no going back. They have higher expectations for you, and if you’re not working to meet them, one of your competitors probably is.
This new age of the customer will force you to rethink how you win, serve, and retain this empowered audience. You have to keep individual customer groups in mind because you can no longer lump them into one big pile and speak to all of them at the same time, in the same way. For example, as we’ve discussed before, marketing to millennials demands different tactics to be successful.
It is important to recognize the impact of customer engagement needs on the fundamentals of your business. As marketing leaders, you must champion customer obsession and all that it means throughout the organization. It’s the time to engage, earn trust, and offer genuine content in every area, in every medium.
Map Your Customer Journey Out in Detail
The best way to explore the customer-controlled journey is by creating a customer journey map. These maps tell the story of the customer’s experience, beginning with initial contact, through the process of engagement and purchase, and into a long-term relationship. The map is an oriented graph representing different touchpoints that characterize a customer’s interaction with your service. Every customer group will have a different path to you and your product, a different map.
Most consumers achieve their goal with your brand through multiple interactions. Just one terrible, disjointed experience can send them straight to your competition. That’s why it’s so important to understand when, where and how customers connect with your business. Fulfill their needs, and you’ll create a loyal customer.
Know Your Customer Touchpoints
A customer touchpoint is any moment when a customer comes into contact with your brand. This includes before, during, and after the purchase. Your goal is to make sure your customers are happy at every point.
The best way to find these touchpoints is by thinking like a customer who has never experienced your brand before and is going through the entire process of doing business with you. Start at the beginning and start brainstorming all possible scenarios, then follow them along this imagined journey and at every touchpoint along the way. Research, psychographics and media habits can help you predict the interactions and plan for success.
Common touchpoints before the transaction can include any of your marketing efforts like ads or social media activity. Social media can have a great effect on the pet care customer’s journey and, done right, will provide an excellent resource. You can read more about that specific leg of the journey here.
Customers can also form an impression through product reviews on e-commerce sites or through word of mouth. This is why we strongly recommend you listen up by paying attention to social media channels.
Once the transaction is in progress, common touchpoints include your point of sale environment, whether that be a physical store, website or catalog. This is where customers might interact with your staff, sales team, or call center. Even if your sales are strictly in-person, there are plenty of opportunities to improve pet product shopping through digital technology.
Common touchpoints after the transaction include things like billing, product support, questions and returns. You might also send customer feedback surveys, product newsletters or thank you cards.
Understand How Touchpoints Create the Experience
After mapping out the touchpoints in the customer journey, step back and see how they all fit together. Are there any obstacles the customer might experience along the way? Ask yourself, are any of the touchpoints missing or underserved? Is there a clear route for the customer to resolve potential issues in the transaction?
Once you establish this map of the customer journey, you’ll be able to evaluate the experience and make improvements where necessary. And remember to always put the customer’s needs first.
Put an Action Plan into Place Now
Now, armed with this knowledge, it’s time for action. Here are the steps you need to take:
- Understand your buyers
Begin by collecting customer data and then turn it into insights.
- Bring your buyer to life
Use your research and insights to identify buyer traits and opinions. From there you can craft detailed personas.
- Create a journey map
Going through the imagined touchpoints for each persona, identify the customer lifecycle and build a map of their possible journey. You can continue to refine this map as you learn more and see actual customers travel through the buying cycle.
- Develop tools to support customer’s navigation
Align the right engagement channel to the right lifecycle stage, helping your customer at as many points as possible along their journey.
- Build a content platform to support your engagement
Be it a website, social media platform or mailing list, make sure you are exactly where your customer needs you to be.
Today’s B2B marketers must attract buyers, influence their decision process and create relationships with a finely tuned mix of content across social, digital and traditional channels. The best way to master this is by using a customer journey map and having a presence wherever you are needed.
Let us know how WS can assist in putting together your customer journey map.
Originally published at www.simplyws.com on February 28, 2017.