As consumers, we like websites that get the job done, but we love websites that leave us feeling victorious. It’s all to do with how we form associations. We gravitate towards people who boost our self-images, don’t we? From a design standpoint, good enough isn’t actually good enough — not if you want to be your customers’ favorite brand.
Yet despite this, far too many websites are poorly thought-out, ultimately reliant upon false assumptions about what the customer wants and needs. That’s a recipe for a fully-earned rejection. If you want to benefit from the high value of the long-term customer, you’re going to need to earn it by creating a journey that hooks people from first interest to brand loyalty.
What such a journey will involve exactly will depend on the nature of your business, but there’s a certain pattern that every winning customer journey will follow. In this post, we’re going to outline a simple guide for building a top-notch journey that will delight your customers.
Build your buyer personas
Every prospective customer will be slightly different — there’s no avoiding that. Every unique individual has a similarly-unique set of preferences and dislikes. But while there’s no accounting for that level of detail, you can segment your audience into useful groups, particularly if you already have a large amount of customer data from previous transactions.
The idea of a buyer persona is that you create a fictional person to represent everyone within a certain set of parameters, then use them as a way of assessing the suitability of your design work. For one example, you might create a Mid-30s Career Woman persona, then start attaching useful qualities, interests and restrictions you’d expect such a person to have — how much disposable income does she have, what are her favorite TV shows, what are her goals?
By going through your analytics data and using your imagination, you can come up with a comprehensive set of buyer personas to cover all relevant age groups, sexes, careers, inclinations, and any other useful tags. Then, when you look at your customer journey, you can ask how well it meets the requirements of each persona.
You might not be able to make everyone optimally happy, but if someone is interested in your website, it would be a huge waste to lose their interest through not anticipating their needs. (You should take the time to seek feedback from your customers — this will highlight any special requirements, and help you gauge the accuracy of your personas).
Identify primary and secondary needs
When working on your buyer personas, you might think of numerous different needs with different levels of priority. This makes total sense, and is something you should pursue further. Here’s why: we never really have just one need from a site, even when we’re on something as simple as an ecommerce product page. There’s always something more we want (also in a philosophical sense) — it just might be a little more abstract.
I’ll give you another example. While you might have clicked on this article simply to see a customer journey guide (for information), there could be other factors in play, such as:
- Entertainment. Even when reading informative content, you’d still like to be entertained by engaging language. Without it, you might leave satisfied, but unlikely to return.
- Inspiration. Maybe you’re feeling doubtful about the potential of your website, and you’re looking to be given fresh motivation to improve your customer journey.
If this guide only met the need for information, it would technically be successful, but it wouldn’t be all it could be. It wouldn’t leave you thinking “Hey, what a great guide!”. Accordingly, if you can anticipate both the primary and secondary needs of your website’s users, you can tailor your content and your UX elements to not only meet but actually exceed their expectations.
Make the funnel steps flow seamlessly
When we’re in the mood for retail, we want indulgence and convenience. That’s the deal as we see it — we commit our hard-earned money to whatever we’re buying, and we get both the product and to feel that we’re treasured customers. The problem with that the retail mood can easily pass if it encounters any friction. If you’ve ever come this close to buying a solid-gold boat online only to be knocked back into rationality by the all-too-real feel of your wallet against your palm, you’ll know what I mean (not that I’ve ever done that, of course).
Because of this, a winning customer journey must be seamless, with every step of the funnel leading smoothly and neatly into the next. At every point in the process, the impending customer must know exactly where they are, what they need to do, and what they stand to benefit. Let’s look at yet another example:
Suppose that you’re a website flipper on the prowl for a new asset — which might sound expensive, but $10,000 could get you a savvy business, believe it or not — and you like what you see on the marketplace homepage. Following the sales process, you reach the checkout, only to see a big empty page with a credit card field in the middle. That’s totally correct for a checkout, yes, but all that empty space gives you pause. You start wondering if you’re making the right decision. You could spend that $10,000 on something else instead, of course. In the end, you decide to leave it for later, then forget entirely.
Now imagine that, instead of seeing empty space, you’d seen a recap of the details, a confirmation of the baseline states of the business, and a variety of security guarantees about the marketplace procedures. Wouldn’t that have made you more likely to complete the purchase?
As such, it isn’t just one part of the sales funnel that needs to be convincing — it’s the whole thing. That’s how you boost your conversion rate, and leave your customers happy to have completed their winning (and doubt-free) journeys.
Whatever your online business may be, the keys to a great customer journey are the same: know your customers very well, strive to exceed their expectations, and make sure that every part of the journey is as good as every other part. That’s how you win loyalty!
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who loves to feel pampered when she shops online. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.