The First Step to Qualified Leads & Loyal Customers: The Customer Decision Journey
There are many ways to differentiate your company, but here’s a small business digital marketing idea that not a lot of other companies are taking advantage of but which can set you apart from the competition.
It’s called the Customer Decision Journey, also referred to as the buyer's journey.
The traditional sales funnel is linear: customers receive information, evaluate the information, sample the product or service, and then buy it, moving down the funnel as they go.
The Customer Decision Journey (CDJ) takes the traditional sales funnel and turns it on its head. The CDJ recognizes that the way people get information about, evaluate, and purchase products and services is dramatically different today than it was just 5 or even 2 years ago.
Because of the internet and people’s ability to proactively seek information on their own, their exposure to your product or service is often outside of your control, and the decision process is anything but linear.
There are four major phases of the CDJ, illustrated in the diagram above and defined below.
1. Consider: This phase starts with ongoing exposure of your services, that is, what the prospect first sees and hears about your brand. During the Consider phase a trigger occurs that starts the prospect on the Journey toward working with you.
2. Evaluation: This is the active information gathering or shopping phase, primarily done online. During this phase, the number of competitors or alternative options to your service may increase as the prospect conducts her research. (It's well documented that 70% of buyers make the purchase decision before speaking with someone in the organization.)
3. Buy: The point of closure or the moment of engagement with your business, when the prospect becomes a customer.
4. Experience, Advocate, Bond: This phase is referred to as the loyalty loop, where customers can serve as advocates (which fuels future sales) but it’s also where customers are open to being swayed to competitors or other options.
The primary goal of marketing is to direct your spending and messaging to the moments of maximum influence, where you stand a much greater chance of reaching customers in the right place at the right time with the right message. But how do you know what these moments of maximum influence are?
In order to truly know this, you have to:
- Intimately understand your customers and
- Understand the steps they take along the Customer Decision Journey
The CDJ enables you to understand the steps your customers take as they consider, evaluate, buy and interact with your product or service.
But as mentioned above, understanding the process your customers take is just one part of a successful digital marketing strategy, the other part is understanding your customer.
In our next blog post on the Customer Decision Journey we’ll address this topic and tie together the two pieces as part of truly differentiating small business digital marketing strategy that result in more qualified leads and ultimately happier and more loyal customers.
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