Design Your Website to Fit the Customer Journey
Small business owners need to align their website with their business. Not only should your website support your marketing objectives, but also the customer’s journey. As Simon Kingsnorth, digital marketing author and expert, explained, “Smart marketing is much more than shouting about your product and much more about taking customers on a journey.”
The marketing objectives will depend on your business objectives. Ask yourself, “What are my marketing objectives?” The following are a few examples:
- Increasing brand awareness
- Improving customer engagement
- Enhancing customer loyalty and increasing repeat business
- Increasing leads or sales
- Increasing event attendance
- Improving brand reputation
- Improving customer support
- Streamlining operations or reducing administrative tasks
Your objectives guide where you should invest your limited resources and which outcomes are most beneficial to you and your business
The Customer’s Journey
After identifying your objectives, it is important to take a step back, leave behind the business owner’s perspective, adopt the customer’s perspective, and evaluate the customer’s journey. The purchasing funnel is a consumer-focused model that illustrates how a customer moves towards a purchase decision.
As an exercise, think of the last time you made a large purchase…
- Awareness: How did you identify the provider options?
- Interest: Why did one provider pique your interest over another?
- Consideration: What criteria did you use to evaluate the providers?
- Purchase: Who did you choose to purchase from?
- Loyalty: How can that provider earn your repeat business and referrals?
As an example, you could reflect on the last time you bought a car. By reflecting on your own decision making process, you will gain insights on what you need to know at a given stage to move closer towards purchase.
Apply the Model to Your Business
After reflecting on your personal experience, answer the questions for your business. As the owner, your perspective will be limited, so ask your customers and prospects. Don’t just ask your best customer, push yourself to ask why someone choose another provider over your business. After reflection and customer discovery, ask yourself, “How do I target each stage of the funnel?” Here are a few examples:
- Awareness: Search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, social, referrals, networking, tradeshows, public relations, etc.
- Interest: Blogs, case studies, portfolios, white papers, newsletters, eBooks, workshops, webinars, consultations, etc.
- Consideration: Reviews, testimonials, trials, demonstrations, comparison charts, proposals, etc.
- Purchase: Product purchase, service agreement, etc.
- Loyalty: Customer service, after-sales support, training, installations, newsletter, social, etc.
The goal is to think like the consumer, tailor your marketing strategy to their journey, and design your website accordingly. Remember, it is a process! The awareness, interest, and consideration stages focus on marketing and lead generation. The purchase stage revolves around sales. The loyalty stage is a mix of customer support and marketing. The purchasing funnel also illustrates why you likely have multiple marketing objectives targeting different stages.
Design Your Website to Fit the Customer Journey
With an understanding of objectives and the customer’s journey, you can determine how your website fits into your overall marketing strategy and start defining the website requirements. After all, your traditional and digital marketing efforts all revolve around driving traffic to your website.
Let’s consider two customer journeys as examples:
- If you need a new doctor, you ask someone you trust for a referral. Next, you research, watch their videos, evaluate their reviews, etc. Professional service providers benefit from networking and positive word of mouth for awareness, videos and articles that showcase their expertise, and testimonials that build their credibility. A free consultation also helps reduce risk.
- If you need a coffee maker, you likely search online and your local store, survey the options, evaluate the features, compare prices, and purchase. Content marketing and sponsorships are key for positioning the brand in the minds of the consumer. Advertising helps keep the brand top of mind. Comparison charts and reviews make it easier to evaluate the options.
These examples illustrate different marketing strategies and website needs. The objectives and purchasing funnel not only provides guidance on what should be included in your website, but also how to use call-to-actions. If you are targeting the interest stage, use the gentle “Download Free Tips” call-to-actions rather than “Buy Now.” Your marketing objectives and the customer’s journey should guide your overall marketing strategy, the website design, and the key performance indicators used to measure the effectiveness of your website.
With the consumer’s journey and objectives in mind, you can design an effective website that converts leads to prospects to customers to raving fans.
Source: Kingsnorth, Simon. Digital Marketing Strategy: An Integrated Approach to Online Marketing. Philadelphia, Kogan Page Limited, 2016.