The User Journey from Prospect to Customer

Life is a highway, but the road from prospect to customer is a journey. Driving individuals from learning about your company to becoming loyal customers doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t happen accidentally. Well, it can, but as a savvy business person, you probably want to have a more active hand in increasing the volume of prospects that come through your door so you can close more deals. That’s why a user journey is a critical piece of your marketing strategy to grow your business. Here are 4 questions to answer as you build your user journey.

#1. What are the stages? 

At a high level, most user journeys follow this basic formula: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase/Decision, Loyalty. Your user journey may indeed be this straightforward, especially if you’re just starting out. A simplified user journey is a great start as you collect data on the ins and outs of your customers’ decision making process. If you have little to no brand awareness in the market, you’ll likely want to spend more time in the Awareness phase, building brand credibility through thought leadership and brand exposure. 

Another consideration for the stages of your user journey is whether the purchase of your product requires multiple stages of approval, ie., if influencers and decision makers come in at different points of the decision-making process. In the B2B space, this is often the case for high-cost, high-investment products like enterprise project management software. If this is the case, you might expect to spend more time in the Consideration phase, at which time prospects will be evaluating and comparing your product against competitors and other options. Be mindful of the other parties who will be involved in moving towards a purchase, and make sure you have content that speaks to those different decision makers (more on that later).

Once you’ve established the steps of your user journey, ensure mutually exclusive “ownership” for each step so that no one (or no platform) is stepping on each other’s toes. For example, is a lead from an asset download on your website immediately assigned to a sales rep for evaluation and nurturing? Or, would an automated email nurture drip be more appropriate to move them down the funnel before they’re connected with a team member?

#2. How are the platforms you’re using contributing to a robust funnel?

A healthy lead funnel doesn’t rely exclusively on direct traffic to your website and word of mouth. Consider how digital and traditional advertising are supporting movement down the funnel, and evaluate how automation can facilitate the journey so that your core team is spending more time where their expertise is needed most – closing deals at the bottom of the funnel. How will the following play into your strategy?

  • Traditional and/or digital ads should drive to unique landing pages on your website for email capture. If your budget allows, consider brand awareness campaigns to boost familiarity and brand recognition and add to your potential remarketing list.
  • Remarketing ads are ads that “follow” people who have visited your site across the internet to keep your brand top of mind. They should provide different, more “involved” content than your top-funnel ads. This will ultimately drive people further down the funnel towards a decision.
  • An offer or newsletter sign-up on your website will keep people engaged with your brand by giving you “permission” to stay in their inboxes on a regular basis.
  • Evaluate what kind of behavior reporting your email marketing platform records. Track behaviors and tag actions – like what kind of content people click on, individuals’ engagement rates, etc. -You can customize content based on a user’s specific needs and interests and re-engage people who have lapsed, increasing the likelihood that they’ll convert.

#3. What is the content?

Content drives engagement. When looking at your user journey, identify the narrative you need to be telling based on where the individual is in the decision making process. Generally speaking, easier to digest content pieces, like infographics and blogs, perform better at the top of the funnel. While your gut instinct might be to put a case study towards your top funnel, resist the urge. The main goal of top-funnel, lead capture content is to incentivize people to give you their email address in exchange for information that teaches them something of value. No one is going to want to give up their email address to read about you bragging about your successes! 

More substantial pieces like white papers serve better at the mid-to-bottom-funnel level, once someone has already demonstrated enough curiosity to want to invest the time for a deeper dive. Use case studies, third-party validation, and content that’s about your company’s unique value propositions closer to the bottom of the funnel as people are comparing your services against competitors and making a final decision. 

#4. How do we grow in other facets of the customer relationship?

This last step is an ongoing one. Most likely, when you first start building your user journey, you’re going to want to start simple. Perhaps the journey is more linear, or maybe you only have a few digital marketing ads running. That’s OK! As you gather more data about how strangers become prospects, and prospects become clients, continue to refine your user journey. Create more customized ads, emails, and new content that speaks to specific pain points at each stage of the journey. Beyond refining your core user journey, consider additional user journeys throughout the lifetime of the customer that might need some refinement. (up-sells, cross-sells, renewals or annual events, etc.)