What does an online shoppers path to purchase look like? Most people would simply say a shopper lands on a site, browses the content, and checks out. That would be an extremely simplified path. We all know that the path to purchase is much more complicated than that. But what if instead of mapping a path to purchase, we map a path to customer loyalty and a sustainable business. We call this the “The Complete Customer Journey.”
The Complete Customer Journey is a comprehensive way of viewing all of an online shopper’s interactions. Savvy marketers and site owners who understand the Complete Customer Journey can grow customer lifetime value, customer retention, and ultimately, sales.
The Complete Customer Journey
The Complete Customer Journey is a framework that is broken into five key steps. Each step is a main touch-point along the journey. While it is possible for a shopper to move linearly from one step to another, it is highly unlikely. It is more likely that a shopper will break away from the main path and encounter some of the sub-steps or roadblocks along the way.
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There is a ton of noise out there in your potential market. Shoppers are bombarded with advertisements and messages everywhere, and nowhere is more crowded than online.
Step 1 is breaking through this noise and making potential shoppers aware of your site and brand. The goal here is to be included in a shoppers evoked set, the group of products that a customer knows of and can consider for purchase. Once a shopper is aware of your site they could visit it right away (Step 2). But they might not have a need, and your site will slip deep within their subconscious until a need arises, at which point they will have to recall.
The shopper has landed, and they are now being critical of everything they see. Visitors want a visually appealing site that is easy to navigate. If those two factors are not immediately apparent you might lose them here. Besides the basics your site will have to be well optimized and tailored to your consumer. The customer needs to be intrigued enough by the site to explore a potential purchase. If they don’t stay they cannot buy!
Once again, the customer could come to your site for the first time and purchase right away, but this is unlikely. The sub-step that the customer engages in here is evaluating alternatives. Shoppers want to make sure that your products are good quality, competitively priced, and well-liked compared to other options available.
This is one of the most important steps in the customer journey. The step that pays the bills for your ecommerce site. Traditional thought would end the process here, but you need to use this first time purchase to grow customer lifetime value down the road. This new customer presents much more value than this one time sale. 70% of companies polled agree that keeping a customer is less costly than acquiring one. Furthermore, the same poll also revealed that 49% of companies see a higher ROI from those retained customers than actively seeking new ones. That is why our ecommerce customer journey extends far beyond the first purchase.
The sub-step here is post purchase analysis. This is the only sub-step that is guaranteed. Once the shopper has purchased they will evaluate the purchase somehow. The degree to which they do so will vary depending on what type of product you sell. A customer will not go on to the next step (repeat purchase) without determining if the product and experience was worth repeating.
Repeat purchases are a sign your site is providing a good customer experience (a building block to grow customer lifetime value). The customer enjoyed their interaction as well as the product and are back to do it again. The customer trusts your site to deliver on their needs and, if handled properly, will continue to do so into the future.
For a customer to take the next step to brand advocacy they will have to have an amazing customer experience. Your site must be delivering something that makes them go out of their way to share and promote your site. This could be next day shipping, amazing service reps, or a one of a kind product or site. The customer needs a reason to fall in love with you.
This is the final step for a customer in the journey. Your site facilitated movement through the steps and it has payed off. The customer now demonstrates total brand loyalty and encourages others to purchase as well. This step is where the journey turns full circle. Brand advocates can be leveraged to increase awareness and ultimately encourage other shoppers to start through the journey. Brand advocates are the ultimate way to grow customer lifetime value. These customers are not only repeat purchasers (increasing their own value) they are also influencing others to buy (increasing their value even further).
How To Grow Customer Lifetime Value
Now that you are familiar with the “Complete Customer Journey” we can begin to go into greater detail. We will be publishing posts that give goals and strategies to help move customers through the journey and tips on how to increase customer lifetime value. Each step will be explained in a detailed post, so make sure to subscribe to our blog to be up to date with each release.