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The world of search marketing is one of constant flux; companies competing on Google have had to keep up with endlessly changing rules of engagement, the introduction of new media types, and frequently redesigned search result pages just to name a few. How does a business cut through the noise to reach their customers at the right time and maximize the return on their marketing dollars?
The answer is simple enough- understand your best customer and be where they are. The difference between understanding any customer and your best customer takes a truly outside-in approach toidentify the ideal user’s path to purchase. Enter Journey Mapping.Journey Mapping (similar to User Story Mapping or Story Mapping, a long-standing IT methodology), a concept that’s been around for over a decade, has earned more attention as companies attempt to eke out their own space in the ferociously competitive digital landscape.
Journey Mapping is exactly what it sounds like: discovering and understanding how customers find your business. Journey Mapping can and should be utilized for any channel of discovery to ensure that the right message or experience is delivered to the right audience. Let’s zoom into digital journeys that consumers take – and use who, where and how to bring it to life.
The first step is to develop the audience whose journey you want to map. Ask a few key questions to create this initial group:
What attributes define our most valuable (best) customer?
What type of content does this type of customer want to consume?
What devices does this person typically use to consume said content?
What other behaviors can be expected and how can we leverage this knowledge in our marketing?
Once the audience is understood, consider the overall strategy. You now know who you want to market and sell to, but where do you want the transaction to occur? Do you want to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar facilities, increase online purchases through an ecommerce store, or generate leads for a sales team to close? The campaign’s goal must align to the desired outcome so that the right channels and resources are used in guiding the desired customer.
Let’s use the financial industry as an example, in this instance a credit union that desires increased mortgage originations. Should this institution focus on marketing to an older crowd, like the mass affluent, since their average mortgage will be a higher amount, or should they focus on volume through Millennials, now poised to become the largest group of homebuyers? Each group has different preferences and will take different journeys on their way to being your customer. Every company will have varying levels of success with different audiences, so overlay an analysis of your current book of business and the strongest performing segments. Don’t ignore the clients that helped get you where you are today!
Now you have who and where; the last step is how. Outline every possible way that the best customers can get to your business and craft a strategy for each. Is the group you’ve decided to pursue active and engaged on social media? Consider a robust social media campaign, catering to the content types your best customers enjoy, and making it easy for them to get to your site to complete a purchase. Do you have physical locations that you want to drive more foot traffic into? Consider posting incentives like an in-store discount on platforms that also have directions to your locations like Google My Business.
One last closing thought- I implore you to seek additional feedback outside of your internal teams and those you deal with on a daily basis. The outside-in approach needed to properly leverage Journey Mapping can be hampered by being too close to the subject. The more perspective you have, the more likely you are to uncover every aspect of your top performing customer’s journey, better arming you to maximize the success of this exercise.