Expand Your Base: 5 Simple Steps to the Customer Journey

Marketing

The customer journey, otherwise referred to as ‘the customer buying process’, is the path a customer undertakes prior to making a purchasing decision. It is imperative that salespeople understand the customer journey thoroughly, as it will help them enhance their lead generation and develop brand awareness as well as their overall sales strategy.

Here, we reveal the five stages of the customer journey and how you can effectively utilize each stage to grow your business.

1. RECOGNIZING A NEED OR IDENTIFYING A PROBLEM

The 5 steps of the customer journey

Let’s start with the basics. This is often viewed as the most imperative step in the customer journey, as consumers will first recognize a need or a problem before deciding to purchase a product or service. This need or recognition of a problem can be triggered through internal means motivated by, for example, hunger and thirst, or external stimuli such as Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google search ads, or the by word of mouth through friends and family. 

2. GATHERING INFORMATION

Once a consumer has recognized a problem or a need, the next stage of the process is to find out information about the product or service. The consumer does this so that they can identify and consider the resources that are related to their purchase decision. Potential buyers might find this information through videos, publications, and other online media, or through word of mouth by speaking to those who have had experience with the product or service. 

Thanks to the way that the recent pandemic has affected our ways of life, many consumers now tend to place a greater emphasis on online research. Therefore, as a company, you should take advantage of the burgeoning digital landscape and SEO (search engine optimization) scene to give your brand the exposure, popularity and platform it needs to find as many new customers as possible. 

3. CONSIDERING THE ALTERNATIVES

People will want to analyze the various products and brands based on the ulterior attributes of the product. Let’s look at backpacks for an example. Customers may have studied a variety of brands before making their purchase, considering the capacity, color, security, and other features of each backpack. These are the products that can provide the customer with the same benefits regarding the product they are searching. The attitude of the consumer can greatly affect this part of the journey.

Another important factor is the involvement that impacts the consumer’s process of evaluation. For example, a consumer with a positive buying attitude and a greater level of involvement will consider several companies or brands. However, someone with a less positive attitude and lesser involvement will do the opposite.

4. TO PURCHASE OR NOT TO PURCHASE

A customer deciding whether to make a purchase

This is the stage in which the buying takes place. The final decision to make a purchase can be impeded by numerous factors like receiving negative reviews from other consumers, how much authority the seller holds in the industry, whether the physical store’s location is inconvenient or if there is no delivery service. For instance, once the consumer has gone through the earlier three stages, they decide they would like to purchase a new jacket. However, once looking at the webpage and finding negative reviews regarding the jacket, they opt against purchasing it in favor of another brand. 

5. POST-PURCHASE BEHAVIOR

The consumer will then compare the product with that of similar products they have bought in the past and then judge it accordingly. This is the stage that is most important for retaining customers. The outcome of this stage can also influence the buying journey for similar customer decisions in the future. If they like the product they received, they will be more likely to buy from your company in the future. In some cases, they may even help you sell your products to others by influencing other potential customers through social media. 

DIGITAL MARKETING AND THE CUSTOMER JOURNEY

As a brand’s digital marketer, you must be familiar with the above five steps in a potential customer’s purchase journey so that you can convince more people to purchase your product or service. There are multiple ways in which competitive businesses can utilize digital marketing to engage their target audience and lead them towards their product. These include:

Now that you know the process in which consumers make purchases and how digital marketing can affect this process, why not find out more about your target demographic by reading our piece Discover the Type of Facebook User Your Target Audience Is. Additionally, take a look at our blog on 7 Snapchat Marketing Tools to Build Your Brand to further your knowledge on branding and influencing your target audience’s purchase decision.