Changes in the way B2B customers purchase products and services were happening even before the pandemic. B2B sales were taking place online and virtually rather than face-to-face. That trend is here to stay, according to McKinsey:
“83 percent of B2B leaders believe that omnichannel selling is a more successful way to prospect and secure new business than traditional, ‘face-to-face only’ sales approaches.”
Their article also emphasized that B2B buyers’ expectations have changed, and businesses now also need to provide a “satisfying digital customer experience.”
Given the weight placed on customer experience (CX), it’s clear that B2B organizations need to focus on improving their digital user experience (UX). Identifying, mapping and serving the customer journey is one way to do that.
In this article, we’re going to look at what the customer journey is, and why you should map it to improve your marketing ROI.
What is a Customer Journey?
The customer journey is the complete experience a customer has with your company from the very first touchpoint right through to their purchase and even beyond. The focus, when looking at your customer’s journey, is on how they feel at each stage and how smooth their pathway is to the purchase.
To understand the journey, you empathize with your customer throughout, looking at areas of friction and how customers might feel about them. With a customer journey map in hand, you can easily identify points of friction, gaps in the journey that need to be filled, and areas where some customers simply move away from your website and on to a competitor.
The customer journey used to be made up of just a few points: awareness, consider, and buy. However, the customer journey is now a never-ending circle with many different phases.
Depending on your business goals your phases may differ, but a customer journey map usually includes the following:
- Awareness: the point where the customer goes from never having heard of your company to knowing that you exist.
- Consideration: because pharma and tech companies typically have a long sales cycle before the purchase, consideration is the timeframe in which you’ll be nurturing the buyer and educating them with proof points.
- Acquisition/Buy: the point at which your customer has converted and purchased from you.
- Onboarding: after the purchase, you continue to nurture your customer, pointing them towards helpful content and directing them to other products they might be interested in.
- Engagement: you want the customer to engage with your content, regularly use your product or service and purchase additional products or services. This is the perfect phase to announce those new products or services.
- Advocacy: when your customer has had such a good experience with your company that they actively recommend you to their peers.
This journey is a continuous cycle, and especially with existing customers, these phases can overlap. It’s not a linear process with A following B following C in a straight line or a traditional sales funnel.
Read more about the customer lifecycle loop in our blog, Why Marketing is Now Responsible for SQLs Instead of MQLs.
Benefits of Mapping the Customer Journey
“Customer journey mapping is a way to visualize the customer experience and how they interact with your business. Your goal in mapping that journey is to remove the obstacles and make the process efficient and intuitive.” – Forbes
With customer journey mapping, you lay out every touchpoint your customer has with your business – from their first encounter with you to interacting with you on your website, emails, and social media.
You start with an objective and then follow every step the customer takes on your website. You can see where they hesitate, where they click away for more information, and perhaps where they don’t come back because of a gap in the process.
BrandWatch’s The Marketer of 2022 report says that “39.68% of our surveyed respondents: ‘lack insight into the customer journey/experience’.” That, as BrandWatch points out, creates a significant opportunity for those companies that are prepared to put in the work and map the customer journey.
Think about it – if 40% of your competitors are yet to perform this exercise, that creates a potentially huge advantage for you if you map your customer journey and implement what you learn from it.
Add in this tidbit from McKinsey, and it’s clear to see that mapping your customer journey can be highly beneficial: “We know that brands that can improve the customer journey see revenues increase as much as 10 to 15 percent while also lowering the cost to serve 15 to 20 percent.” It’s certainly worth the investment!
Other benefits of customer journey mapping include:
- Achieving a deeper understanding of your customer and how they feel.
- Discovering more about their pain points.
- Helping to develop new products/ services.
- Finding and resolving any UX and CX problems on your website.
- Examining and improving the customer interaction with every department, including marketing, sales, and customer service.
- Using your map to inform and educate everyone from the C-suite down on the importance of the customer experience.
- Removing silos and bringing marketing, sales, and customer service together to improve your customers’ journey and experience.
Next month we’ll be diving into how you map the customer journey and what types of content serve each phase. Stay tuned!
Brandwidth Solutions serves the healthcare, life sciences, technology, and contract pharma industries. We work with companies that want to make the most of their marketing – who want their marketing empowered to help drive leads – and ultimately sales. If you want to move your product or service forward in a smart way, we want to work with you. Call us at 215.997.8575.