We are losing customers we didn’t even realise we had, by missing a step in our customer journey.
Over the past two decades our buying behaviour has been evolving, predominantly down to the availability of information online.
The Internet has empowered us as consumers to have far more control in the buying process. It allows us to research options, compare offerings, better understand our issue and identify possible solutions far easier.
However, many of us as small business owners are ignoring this change by continuing to focus on promoting our own products and services. This disregard is losing us potential customers as we fail to provide them with the information that they are looking for. What they actually want is useful information that helps them identify the perfect solution for their current need, allowing them to feel confident enough to interact with your business and make a purchase,
A buyer experience
Reflecting on my own purchasing habits, I recently spent weeks at night researching family holidays sitting with my laptop in front of the TV. Googling accommodation, destinations, average temperatures, customer reviews, so that I could override my fear of buying a holiday from hell.
Initially I was looking for information that would help me outline my ideal criteria and, so I was searching phrases such as; Best family holidays with a toddler, self-catering or all inclusive with a toddler, where’s hot in May?
Once I’d established my criteria I used it to short-list a few options and was then looking for information not only from the sellers website, but also from un-biased sources such as travel blogs and reviews such as Tripadvisor and Facebook.
The truth, is I didn’t know what product I wanted at the beginning, I just knew we needed a holiday. I was cynical about any offers and pretty much relied on reviews to build my confidence.
Where are we going wrong?
We have not adapted our sales approach to reflect the modern customer.
Static brochure style websites, emails outlining products, it’s not about you and your business offering. It’s about you knowing your customer inside out and putting your feet in their journey and answering the questions they have.
Without providing explanations or answers to these queries we leave customers out in the open, left to trawl the internet, researching competitors, leaving them feeling insecure and perhaps concluding that it is too difficult a problem to deal with.
When researching holiday options, I had endless questions and queries that I wanted answered, many of which couldn’t be found which frustrated. It was stressful, as I wanted to know that I was going to make the right decision and the information that would reassure me just wasn’t readily available.
To me, this highlights the massive opportunity we have to build trust and confidence with our customers by providing easy access to useful information. Improving their whole customer journey as well as well as improving our number of qualified leads.
Why we need to evolve our marketing practices to attract new customers
81% of decision-makers research online before buying and depending on which study you read the average consumer (B2B and B2C) makes roughly 70% of the buying decision before they ever talk to the company or sales person.
The key piece of information to note, is that we are increasingly not present when a customer is researching and validating their purchasing options. With this in mind how do we adapt our sales and marketing approach to ensure that customers know that we exist and our key messages are still getting across?
A series of moments that are opportunities for you to attract new customers.
I find it simpler to think of a customer journey like a series of moments. It makes it easier to understand the information that they are looking for and how you could maximise the opportunity
When recently booking my holiday …
- The ‘I want to get-away' moment
Where I was just excited by the thought of going way, I had no idea where I was going, the world was my oyster but I wanted some advice on how to choose the best holiday with a toddler
- The ‘what are my options’ moment
Having identified that I wanted a self-catering resort with, a playpark and kids splash pool in Lanzarote, what options did I have to choose from?
- The ‘what does everyone else think’ moment
Like rest of the world, I am cynical so I thought the resort website might only be telling what I wanted to hear. I needed to see first-hand what other travellers thought. If there were complaints, what were they and how were they handled.
- The ‘I’m ready to indicate my interest to the travel agent’ moment
I finally felt confident enough to make myself visible to the sales person and indicate my interest in their product. Essentially putting myself out there to be sold to. But remember, I already know what I want!
- The ‘Yay’ I’m going on holiday moment!
Feeling assured by my choice, I make the purchase and I can now enjoy the excitement of going on holiday – telling everyone and making them jealous!
- The ‘that was awesome I want to tell everyone’ moment.
We are so surprised when we get what we want these days, that we want to tell everyone about it; Facebook reviews, Tripadvisor, Instagram it’s marketing gold!
What do your customer moments look like and how do you position yourself around them currently?
It’s just a hunch, but I am going to suggest that you activities are focused around points 4,5 and perhaps 6. Do you now see, how we are missing out on opportunities to attract new customers in all the stages before that?
6 ways to make your customer journey easier and increase sales at the same time.
- Identify their problems and create content online that helps address them.
Get to the root of their needs; initially I didn’t know where I wanted to go I just knew I wanted a holiday. perhaps a blog article on where’s best to go on holiday with a toddler?
- Prove that you feel their pain, and reassure them that you understand what they want.
Case studies showing how you’ve helped other customers will make them feel reassured that you understand their needs. For example a snapshot story about a young family getting away to a resort where there is plenty of entertainment for the kids giving the adults some time together too.
- Become positioned as an expert in your field.
Customers respect industry leaders who share useful information. Be seen as a voice that speaks across your industry providing helpful, unbiased information to your target audience. A suggestion could be, an article on a Parenting website illustrating that self-catering could be a more cost effective option than all-inclusive for a young family, due to the room layouts for a separate cot area and kitchen space for fussy eaters that wont eat hotel food.
- Help them get to know you.
The more that you open up and share with them who you are, the more you feel familiar to them and trustworthy. Your past experiences and life lessons are unique to you and the resulting story-telling will be far more powerful than any newspaper advert.
- Give them something they can use.
Break your service down, is there something you can offer them that makes their life easier. For example: a simple travel checklist with items to take when going on holiday with a toddler
- Provide evidence on your capabilities.
Encourage reviews from your customers, write-up case studies and capture testimonials.
What's your thoughts?
Having shared with you my own 'moments' when buying a recent holiday, i'd love to hear about your own buying reflections. Post in the comments section below.