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Understanding the Customer Journey: 3 Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making

Posted by Jesse McCambridge on November 23, 2016 at 10:49 AM

Customer journeyThough focusing on the consumer journey may not sound like a direct route to increased conversions, nothing could be further from the truth. According to Business 2 Community, businesses that make understanding the customer journey a priority not only see over 50 percent greater returns on their marketing investments, but also see a faster-than-average sales cycle and greater cross- and up-sell revenue. But if you've already explored the world of mapping consumer journeys but haven't yet seen such dramatic results, you could be falling victim to one of these common mistakes.

1. Relying on Templates to Reach "Ideal" Consumers

When you ask marketers to tell you about their ideal customers, they'll likely list off some age and household-income demographics, along with some additional interests their ideal buyer might have. But how many of these facets are based on research or conversations with real people?

If your business wants to use marketing strategies that focus on the customer journey, it's vital that you take the time to understand customers based on in-house research and interviews with customers who converted and those who didn't. Asking specific questions about purchase triggers — what led customers to purchase from your company or a competitor instead — and the things that matter to them (not only with regards to your product or service, but in their own lives as well), can help you discover some interesting patterns that could inform your next marketing campaign far better than a template of the ideal customer.

2. Failing to Create a Customer-Centric Marketing Plan

While there's nothing wrong with creating a campaign centered around a specific goal (increase holiday sales by 15 percent over last year, gain 20,000 new social media followers, and so on), marketers often don't consider the other half of a potential conversion: What might a consumer be feeling or thinking as he or she interacts with your brand?

For instance, let's take the social media growth goal mentioned above. While some marketers might go all-out with promoted content specifically built for mobile or ads on Facebook inviting consumers to like their pages, it might be more advantageous to step in the shoes of social media users first. Do people prefer to interact with you on mobile or desktop? What might these users hope to gain by following you? Deals exclusive to social media? Access to early information about upcoming releases?

By using information from real customers to formulate a marketing plan that takes their wants and goals into account, you can reach them in a much more authentic way, which will in turn help you achieve your campaign's goals.

3. Staying Inside Your Bubble

When marketers are working toward understanding the customer journey, they often focus in on direct interactions with their brands (a link click, a page visit, etc.). However, this approach fails to account for external factors. If you're marketing a local Bed and Breakfast, for instance, a customer's journey may take him or her to review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor before the time comes to actually make a reservation. Keeping an eye on reviews (and responding to questions and concerns when appropriate) could go a long way toward increasing consumer confidence and may ultimately boost reservations.

Though every consumer's conversion process is slightly different, avoiding these general mistakes is vital to successfully understanding the customer journey.

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