Without relationship, there is no business.
Without value, there is no relationship.
Without relevance, there is no value.
You can logically conclude that being relevant is the way to foster relationships that will ultimately result in revenue and other consideration for your business.
So how do you establish relevance?
The dominating transaction online is not ecommerce purchases. The dominating transaction online is trading attention for content.
Without content, the world wide web would not exist. Social media would not exist. Google would not exist. Each of us is looking at content whenever we go online. The only difference is the intention behind the creator of the content.
In order to capture attention, the new currency of our lives (beyond time and money), you must be able to put valuable content in front of an audience that can relate to that content. There’s only one way to to that.
You must know the wants and needs of your audience.
This is where a customer journey map becomes useful. The journey is the path that someone takes into your content, down the funnel and through to the holy land of paid customer.
The journey map must be designed with the customer in mind. Empathy to their pain points, and a thorough understanding and belief in your solution are the keys to unlocking the journey map.
GaryVee points out in an essay on Medium:
“So when you are trying to make a sale, consider what [customers] actually need. Consider how [customers] actually think.”
But, you don’t have to be like the old school cartographers, following the course of the land blindly and drawing what you see on your map.
Our marketing predecessors that had to work before the internet age had to rely on less accurate representations of the audience they were communicating with. Surveys, Nielsen ratings, subscription deliveries to geographic areas, etc. These were what guided the journey map.
Instead of relying on less accurate data, we can gather and use intelligence on our online audience to personalize the journey through your funnel.
We are afforded a wealth of detailed user intelligence because of the medium shift to the internet. Like it or not, we are identifiable in more ways than we care to admit to.
We can track everything about the interactions we have with every visitor to our website.
So, what is the best way to build out the customer journey?
Jim Kalbach, the author of Mapping Experiences, said in a podcast with Jared Spool, that we need to examine “the real experience, slowed down, frozen in time, so we can diagnose [what the customer goes through] and actually step through it step-by-step.”
It is important to go through your customer journey as if you were a customer and note every single step it takes to become your customer. Take an outside-in perspective of what is really going on.
Don’t miss anything, whether it’s an opt-in, a question on a form, a pop-up window or overlay. Don’t forget to include all of the web pages you need to interact with to move down the funnel.
You might find that you are only tracking a few steps that you thought were important. Or you might find that the journey gets clunky or cluttered or unclear or just sucks in general. You find that it needs to be changed.
If you take the time to do this, you can ensure that the customer journey with your business is both effective in that it solves their problem, but also enjoyable.
First, know what your customer goes through, then optimize the journey with intelligence.
As Jared points out later in the podcast:
“Information is your greatest design asset. Every hypothesis is true until it’s proven that it isn’t. The quickest way to validate or invalidate assumptions about a user journey is to look at it, and then talk about it.”
What you learn about the customer journey must then be used to improve it. Instead of trying to improve the steps that you have assumed about your customer journey, look at what steps the customer has to actually go through and challenge each one.
Knowing what you do about the real customer journey, you can visualize a new one, made more efficient and enjoyable.
In order to design a customer journey that is appropriate for your users, you need to really understand them. This is where the role of data collection and analysis becomes of vital importance.
In order to test the hypotheses you make about your customer journey, you have to track the proper metrics at each step. Measurement is important in finding the parts of your journey that are sticky, clunky, unnecessary, or working well.
GaryVee sums it up nicely:
“You need to reverse engineer your customers’ needs. You have to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s the only way.”
Do you know the process that your customers go through to become your customers? Is it fully optimized based on real data? Do you have it drawn out and analyzed?
If you are struggling to make your online marketing effective, the first step to fixing it is fixing your customer journey.