Have you ever made a purchase after seeing a social media ad? What about after reading a blog post, or getting a promotional email? If you answered “yes” to any of these scenarios, you’re a digital consumer, and this article is all about you and your online habits.
Unfortunately, many businesses are stuck in a traditional mindset when it comes to their understanding of the customer decision journey. Too often, their approaches to reaching customers are outdated and rely on face-to-face interactions that are hard to come by in the age of the Internet. After reading this article, hopefully those businesses will see the error of their ways. Let’s get started!
The Sales Funnel
Traditionally, the customer decision journey has been presented as a funnel. Consumers move linearly from one stage to the next, following a set of predetermined steps that your business has decided will lead to purchase.
This made a lot of sense in years past—a prospective customer might see a catalog for your product, call and ask a few questions, come see the product in-store, and then make a purchase. The potential steps in the consideration process were limited, simply because there were only so many ways to acquire information about a product or service.
Today, that’s obviously not the case. Consumers are more digitally-connected than ever before, and smartphones provide access to a wealth of information that was previously unheard of.
The Customer Journey Map
One implication of this digital shift is that the customer decision journey doesn’t always fit into the traditional funnel anymore. A model that has taken its place is the “customer journey map” which is a more flexible, less linear option. It takes into account the fact that prospective customers jump around the sales funnel, skipping ahead and then cycling back to fit their needs at any given moment.
The graphic below gives an example of a customer journey map. You can see how there are many, many avenues for a consumer to enter the sales process, and the pathway to making a purchase is much less obvious.
Mobile Makes More Touchpoints Possible
Smartphones, for their part, have completely altered the tasks that are included in these customer journey maps. Mobile devices are increasingly critical in the purchase decision. There are all kinds of statistics to support this shift, but here are a few of the most striking. One study found that one-third of people now make their purchasing decisions exclusively on mobile, meaning that they never conduct a search on a desktop device, make a phone call, or show up in-store.
Google’s research found that 56% of people who research on mobile devices make up their minds quickly, making a purchasing within just one hour. Google also found that mobile searches are critical even for people who still purchase in-store, with 82% of smartphone users reporting that they consult their phones for purchases they’re about to make in a physical location.
Finally, mobile eCommerce has been steadily increasing its share of total eCommerce. The graphic below from Statista (using eMarketer data) illustrates the fact that mobile eCommerce is expected to account for as much as 72.9% of total eCommerce sales by next year, up more than 20% compared to just five years ago.
Understand Your Touchpoints and Optimize for Mobile
So, what does this mean for today’s businesses? There are two main takeaways that we’d like to highlight. First, understanding the different touchpoints in the mobile sales journey is critical. In today’s digital landscape, you need to know all the different locations your customers are seeking out information online, on top of all the ways you deliberately communicate with them (email campaigns, targeted ads, your website’s blog, etc.).
The beauty of the customer journey map is that the process of transitioning your existing funnel to a map forces you to consider all those mobile sales touchpoints, and the desktop and physical touchpoints that you might be more used to prioritizing. You also have to notice the ways they interact and overlap, which is hugely important.
With non-linear purchasing patterns, your customers could need a variety of types of information at any given touchpoint. For example, one person on the FAQ page of your website may have just found out that your company existed, while another might be seconds away from making a purchase. Your content needs to satisfy both of those people.
When you go to create content for these channels, your map will help guide the messaging you choose to employ. You’ll have more of an understanding about how to align your content to what your audience needs at any given moment.
Our second key takeaway is that this digital shift means that all of your content needs to be optimized for mobile devices. This is an absolute must. If your audience is browsing on mobile devices, but they can’t see half of your content, or the formatting goes away, or the pages take 10x longer to load, they’re going to miss out on the great information you’ve curated for them.
What’s more, search engines are increasingly prioritizing mobile content in the algorithms that rank your site. Ensuring that your content is equally optimized for both desktop and mobile devices alleviates these potential problems from arising.
With your new-and-improved customer journey map and these two key takeaways, you’re sure to see the impact that mobile can have for your business.