The modern customer journey is a series of interconnected channels that together contribute to a lead moving down your sales funnel until finally converting. Before the internet and social media, the customer journey was fairly linear: A customer received advertising in one form or another, walked into a store, spoke with a sales rep, and eventually purchased.
Today, consumers are more informed than ever. They obtain their knowledge through online searches, social media, and video content.
Online advertising plays a role in the modern customer journey but has gotten so expensive in certain industries, such as the home services sector, that pursuing a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign is no longer worth it for many businesses. Many companies in these industries are now opting for an organic approach to getting customers through the customer journey. This is cheaper in the long term because the organic traffic keeps paying off long after the initial campaign was launched.
Let’s take a look at what the modern customer journey is composed of, and how your business can leverage key points of it to achieve a successful digital marketing campaign.
What is the modern customer journey?
The online customer journey breaks down as follows, from the top of the funnel to the bottom:
Interest and Awareness
This is the first part of the journey. It used to be driven primarily by advertising but the modern customer journey also uses blog posts, social media posts, and video to raise awareness.
At the awareness stage, the customer does not yet know what they want, and especially doesn’t know the type of business they are searching for. At this stage, they have a problem and are trying to solve that problem.
Videos and blogs that show ways to solve a problem — of course, with a link to your product or service — will help bring awareness to the customer about what you do.
Once the customer knows the solution to their problem, they start to search for products that could provide that solution.
Search is an enormously broad topic and can include search engine searches, video searches, and “near me” searches.
Google reports that 53% of shoppers will always research any product before buying it. Potential buyers are looking to establish the product’s reputation and this can be achieved through reputable blog posts, trusted reviews, word of mouth, and social media posts.
If you’ve optimized all the earlier phases of the journey, your customer will be ready to buy. To achieve the conversion, your website should be optimized for conversion, and accessible to all users.
Cart Abandonment Rate — when users put an item in a shopping cart but ultimately don’t check out the product — averages to about 70% across all industries. Whereas a certain percentage of users will always abandon their cart, this rate can be improved by ensuring that the checkout process is as smooth as possible.
Customer experience (advocacy)
If the post-sale experience is positive, customers will take the time to write a review, a favorable blog post, or promote your business on social media.
This feeds further customers into the modern customer journey. A great post-sales experience can also turn the existing customer into a repeat buyer.
Let’s take a look at three key elements of the modern customer journey:
- Local search
- Video content
Local search is a powerful way for small, location-specific businesses (such as restaurants and home services companies) to get customers. At the “search” phase of the customer journey, people searching for “
Local search gives smaller businesses in the immediate vicinity the upper hand and so allows them to effectively compete with larger businesses in search.
At the research phase of the modern customer journey, users are hunting for information on a company’s reputation. Nothing answers this question better for them than independent reviews on sites such as TrustPilot and Google.
Great reviews on Google also have the added benefit of improving the local search ranking of that business.
There are numerous ways to encourage customers to leave reviews. The first, of course, is to provide great service. But even then, a proactive approach is often needed to get customers to take that extra step and write the review.
Video is the secret weapon
Excellently created videos that customers find on YouTube, Vimeo, Twitter, and other sites can:
- Inform and enlighten (awareness stage)
- Be found (search stage)
- Show credibility (research phase)
- Help users during the checkout process (conversion)
- Help the user after the product was purchased (post-purchase experience phase)
The numbers in favor of video for marketing speak for themselves:
- 86% of marketers say video was effective in getting new leads
- 94% of marketers said that videos helped their users understand the product better
Video consumption by internet users has reached unprecedented levels. The average person is predicted to consume as much as 100 minutes a day watching video content online. Video posts on social media sites consistently receive more engagement than other types of posts. And videos in email campaigns result in 16% higher open rates and 26% more replies.
And the list goes on.
The challenge when creating a video marketing strategy has traditionally been balancing cost with quality. Fortunately, due to advances in technology, there are now companies that can create this content at a highly competitive price.
Pay-per-click (PPC) is not recommended in some industries
PPC costs have gone through the roof in many sectors. This is particularly apparent in the home services sector.
Home services advertisers report paying as much as $40 for a single click—an absurd amount to pay. This inordinately high price has pushed the average cost per lead to over $100 in many home services subsectors. In the HVAC sector, it is as high as $275.
Even for large businesses, those numbers make PPC an untenable marketing strategy. But for smaller businesses, they are utterly crippling, rendering any PPC campaign out of the question.
Companies are better off handling their local search, reviews, and producing excellent video content to nurture their leads through the modern customer journey until these leads ultimately convert.