Before we dive into the best ways to control the customer journey, let’s do a little bit of backtracking and clarify what it is, exactly. There are a ton of definitions out there, but we really think this one, from HubSpot, is the best: The process by which a customer interacts with a company to achieve a goal. For our purposes, we’ll go ahead and mentally replace “company” with “website”. So you can think of it in terms of clicks, or pages the customer navigates through — any way you want to envision it, but make sure you’re thinking of a full process and not any one standalone element.
Now, why is the customer journey so important? If you’ve got an eCommerce site, you might already have an idea — making sure that you’re leading your customers to the right products is crucial. You really want to keep customers engaged by your offerings, and entertained enough to linger on your site, yet focused on what they’re there for, all at the same time. It’s a tough balance to strike!
A common mistake we tend to see is that some websites will go overboard with the fun bells and whistles, wanting to keep everyone on their site for as long as possible... but then they totally drop the ball when it comes to directing their customers towards any particular products.
So what?, you might be saying. So this: Customers won’t just hang out there indefinitely on your site until they buy. They get lost or bored and close the tab, or they’ll head off to another site entirely. Very few will go on to actually hit that shiny “Check Out” button, or in really bad cases, they won’t even see it. That’s a problem you shouldn’t be having.
Fortunately, right now we’re giving you our top three tips to keep your customer journey crystal clear!
This is one of the best ways to make sure you’re managing all of the different aspects at play when you create these various customer journeys across your website. There are hundreds of tutorials out there about how exactly you can map them out, so we won’t get bogged down detailing any one technique — the important thing is just to get it out of your head, away from wordy documents, and into diagram format. Having a visual is really going to help out, so trust us, don’t skip this step.
We happen to think the best way to do this is in a bold, color-coded, straightforward format, preferably on really big paper, but there’s no wrong way as long as you’re clear about which customers you want to direct, and where. Have some fun with it!
The absolute best way to get clear on the customer journey is to ask your customers. This seems deceptively simple, we know. But you’d be amazed how many business owners will get super excited and map out a journey that’s clever, amazing, unified, fantastic... and completely NOT a reflection of their customers’ actual behavior on their site.
To riff on a popular saying: yes, your opinion about your site matters, but there are some times when the customer truly is right, and this is definitely one of them. Take into account what people are actually doing, and not what you would prefer they do — you’ll find there’s probably a way to drive folks where you want them to go in the end, if you analyze the reasons behind their behavior.
What kind of journey doesn’t have any guides? No maps, no signposts, no GPS, and no helpful characters giving exposition? It would be a pretty sad tale, so don’t let it happen on your website, either.
Think of your CTAs like guidebooks or maps for the customer journey: If they’re vague, or if users don’t recognize that they’re clickable elements, they may as well not even be there. And that’s a waste of your hard work in putting your site together neatly as well as of your customers’ time.
Keeping your CTAs unified and consistent will make sure everyone gets where you need them to go.
Hopefully we haven’t said anything here that’s too surprising, and you’ve got a concrete list of items to tackle before your area reaches full open capacity again. If not, though, and you’re freaking out switching between calls with your payment processor, your shipping service, your kinda-techy friend who made a website back in 10th grade, your therapist, and your mom -- well, we think there’s only one call you really need to make.