Digital technology is enabling a radically altered consumer journey. It is important for a brand to be present and engage with consumers during all steps of this modern customer journey. Research is necessary to help create the right strategy and supporting tactics needed to reach customers at the key points off this journey.
Modern Customer Journey
I’m a big fan of the visualization put forward by Kelly Mooney and pictured above. In her model, the modern consumer journey isn’t driven by mass media but rather by user engagement.
“Now that digital technology is enabling a radically altered consumer journey, marketers must toss aside the old models: old models for understanding the journey but also old models for planning media, allocating budgets, big idea generation and agency engagement. It’s a new era of consumer experience creation and the winners will be the marketers that master the new journey.” – Kelly Mooney
The Pillars of the updated Customer Journey
Awareness is increasingly controlled by the consumer and not generated by mass media. During the first step of the journey, people either search or discover based on a want or a need.
It is important to be there when consumers search for your products or services and be in the right place to ensure people discover you. Discovery is the most complex to plan for because it’s about showing up in the right place at the right time, via paid media, owned content, earned conversations, location-based alerts, etc.
- Search – Are people having a hard time finding your brand?
- Discover – Do enough people know about your brand?
As consumers assess options they immerse themselves in all available media (videos, images, product specs, comparisons, reviews, etc). They want to have all their questions answered right away. They will also reach out to confer with friends & family to seek opinions of users or experts. Consumers also turn to social media to discuss potential purchases.
- Assess – Is there enough information to help people make the decision to buy your product?
The buying step in the consumer journey initially seems very simple, but with the increasing number of ways to pay (PayPal, Square, Google Wallet, Bitcoin, Credit Cards, NFC, etc.) and acquire merchandise (same day delivery, lockers, drones, download, etc.) brands that meet consumers ever-changing needs and wants are rewarded. In addition, this can be a huge bottleneck for a brand and a flawless UX/UI is imperative to success.
- Buy – Is it simple for someone to complete the transaction? Are all call to actions clear?
One of the most critical and overlooked opportunities is what happens next. In the new digital economy buying is no longer the end of the journey. It’s often just the beginning as digital tools allow users to both share consumption and influence others to not only also buy, but also to assess.
Do you know if your product/service is being used and enjoyed? Are you set up to know and monitor this? Brands need to be very vigilant in inviting consumers to connect post-purchase beyond sharing feedback. A simple step is to enable easy re-purchase, or provide access to special content and events, or add value in new ways that bridge the physical and digital realms.
- Connect – Are a number of people buying the product but not advocating it?
- Consume – Is there lost opportunities to connect with your consumers to make them aware of other or new products?
- Influence – Post purchase social engagement now drives pre-purchase decisions of friends and family. In this way, social media is closing the customer journey loop.
Clearly, loyalty is the optimal outcome for every brand. But, there are active and passive forms of loyalty, and the opens a brand up to competitive vulnerability.
Bottom-line: The key insight is that in the digital economy you can longer just force your brand upon people. Rather, you have to earn awareness, consideration, purchase, and loyalty by being ready to engage with consumers. Your brand will dictate which pillar is the most important to invest in.