In 2018, most companies are familiar with the concept of the customer journey: the process of selection, from brand awareness to making a purchase and becoming a repeat buyer. For the past ten years, this journey has become increasingly digital. Potential customers interact with your business via social media, websites, email marketing, and more.
Overall, businesses have jumped at the chance to engage with customers via new these new mediums. But weaving these new channels into an effective, cohesive customer journey built for the digital age can be challenging. Here are three key ways you need to rethink the digital customer journey in order to build brand awareness, increase conversions, and cultivate lasting customer relationships.
1) Your customers are digital, too.
In 2018, the members of your marketing team aren’t the only digital experts; your customers are just as digital as your company—if not more. A great example of this is buying behavior: almost 1.7 billion people made online purchases in 2017, and these purchases amounted to a total $2.3 trillion in sales, according to a Statista review.
Customers are also opting for digital channels beyond the sales cycle; an estimated 67% of consumers use social media to ask for support. More importantly, customers tend to spend 20-40% more with companies that engage with them on social media. And according to Zendesk, live chat sees the highest customer satisfaction rating out of all customer support channels.
These statistics show that digital channels are key to shaping an effective customer journey because they have fundamentally changed the way that customers behave. When mapping your customer journey, it’s important to understand how the modern digital consumer engages with different touchpoints. Which platforms do they prefer? Are they more likely to access live chat on a desktop or via a mobile device? By arming yourself with data about how your customers behave digitally, you’ll be better prepared to engage with them at the right touchpoints.
2) Because customers are digitally literate, there’s less room for error…
The flipside to this increase in digital literacy, however, is that your customers have higher standards for the digital experience you provide. They’re more likely to recognize sponsored content or unsubscribe to email marketing campaigns if they’re irrelevant or untimely. And when they’re unhappy or disappointed with the customer experience, they don’t just call to complain; they share their experience on Facebook and Twitter.
That’s why it’s so important to make your digital customer journey a priority. By 2020, customer experience—which is now largely digital—will overtake both price and product as the key brand differentiator. If you don’t carefully craft and manage your digital touchpoints, you risk making potential customers ambivalent towards your brand—or worse, losing existing customers.
There are lots of automated tools you can use to better manage these touchpoints from tools for building landing pages to event management apps. But getting a holistic overview of how your customers interact with these touchpoints can be difficult because crucial information exists in separate app silos. Technology like intelligent automation is one way to solve this problem; with just a few clicks, you can create a 360° customer view.
3)…and more is at stake in terms of potential growth.
Empowered digital customers are some of the most valuable customers for your company. According to the Harvard Business Review, evangelistic customer loyalty is one of the main drivers of growth; similarly, a Gartner survey indicates that 65% of all new businesses comes from existing customers.
No matter how small their purchase, it’s crucial that you identify exceptionally satisfied customers and leverage their good experience to grow your business. A popular way to do this is through Net Promoter Score (NPS), which uses surveys to sort customers into brand ambassadors and detractors. You can then reach out to prevent churn with unhappy customers—and incentivize the happy ones to evangelize your brand.
In the last few years, there’s been a lot of focus on bringing businesses up to speed with new technologies. These efforts—commonly known as digital transformation—have spawned countless ebooks, webinars, and consulting firms aimed at helping businesses effectively embrace digital.
At the same time, customers have organically become more digital, as well. As technology continues to change their behavior, companies must continue to re-shape their customer journeys to engage with the empowered digital consumer.