Customer or buyer journey is a buzzword that is often thrown around in the digital marketing industry. According to experts, it’s one of the main prerequisites for having a healthy brand. Unfortunately, while many companies try to implement this concept in their daily operations, only a handful succeeds in doing so.
Basically, this is a process during which customer learns about a company and, ultimately, buys their products. In a way, it’s a list of steps that a potential lead needs to take to become a fully paying customer.
In this article, we’ll talk about the concept of customer journeys and how it relates to search engine optimization. Later on, we’ll share a few tips on how to implement it in your daily routine.
What is a customer’s journey?
Before talking about its relation to SEO strategy and digital marketing, let’s see what constitutes a typical customer journey.
The term relates to a client’s buying experience. It starts by realizing that you have a problem and that you need to solve it. After searching the market, a person eventually creates a list of companies that can help with their issue. The client analyzes all the options choosing the best one.
However, the process doesn’t stop after you’ve bought a product or service. After completing the transaction and trying out the product, the client sums up their experience and categorizes it as a positive or a negative one. In that sense, it’s important not only for conversion but also for customer retention.
To help guide them throughout the process, companies rely on customer journey mapping. This is a visual representation of all interactions between a brand and a lead. By using this tool, businesses can understand where they gained and lost customers while also detecting bottlenecks.
How does the customer journey relate to SEO?
Nowadays, when we talk about the customer journey, we usually refer to digital processes. The majority of companies have transferred their business online, which has its advantages and downsides. Digital transformation simplifies the user journey as we can use data from search engines to gain better analytical insights.
In other words, by tracking various on-site metrics, such as time spent on the page or bounce rate, you can establish where you lost customers. This data can also shows us how long it takes for a lead to go from one contact point to another. Lastly, companies can use it to discover users’ pain points.
The plethora of data is especially beneficial for companies that have fantastic digital teams. Experts can utilize SEO tools such as Google Analytics to assess website performance and how it fairs in organic search. However, this can also pose issues for inexperienced users who can get lost in all the information.
Google and other search engines have changed how clients interact with companies. It made it easier for smaller brands to position themselves globally, but this also means your website can easily get lost among similar platforms.
5 Elements of a traditional customer journey map
Customer journey maps are the same in all industries:
At the start of pre-awareness, a person still doesn’t understand they have a problem. Suddenly, they see a commercial on TV or YouTube and realize how a particular product or service can make their life easier. This is the first time they’re thinking about the purchase, and as time goes by, the idea is slowly solidifying in their mind.
During this customer journey stage, a person is slowly starting to explore the market. In a digital sense, this means they’re browsing Google for potential solutions. The audience is learning more about the market participants but also similar products that might fulfill their needs.
After performing their research, future buyers have a better grasp of the top companies and products. They’ve shortlisted a few of them and starting to compare prices and read online reviews. Depending on a particular product and its price, the process can be shorter or longer.
A lead has finally made their decision and is proceeding with the purchase. They either buy the product directly from the website or contact the company with a few extra questions. Occasionally, the deal can break during the conversion phase, even if it is close to completion. If that happens, a person goes back to the awareness stage.
Leads can now test the product and all of its features. They can assess its usefulness and whether it helps fulfill their needs. During post-conversion, they can make a comparison between this particular item and other options they were considering.
Post-conversion is crucial for customer retention. If a person is satisfied with their purchase, they’re more likely to return later on.
How can companies benefit from the customer journey?
Aside from helping acquire more clients, the buyer journey provides numerous other benefits to companies. Among others, it allows businesses to connect with leads on a deeper level by understanding their needs. With the advanced technology, including AI solutions for eCommerce, it has become easier to learn customer behavior and offer personalized experiences.
Here are 10 benefits you can get from understanding your customers’ journey:
- Helps you understand the buyer’s perspective.
- Allows brands to create a list of customers’ needs.
- Allows you to analyze behavior at different points of the journey.
- Companies can use data to create a more customized buying experience.
- Helps align employees and other stakeholders.
- Significantly increases return on investment.
- Improves your positioning on the market.
- Removes any obstacles that were interfering with conversion.
In theory, by analyzing customers’ processes, you can provide a much better overall experience. Over time, you can use this data to tweak your marketing, products, and daily operations.
An excellent thing about the buyer’s journey is that it’s a relatively static category. A prospective customer will have a similar persona a few years from now, so you won’t have to invest constantly in tracking the latest trends.
8 Steps for implementing customer journey in your SEO strategy
The buyer’s journey is an outbound strategy that works inward. Even though it might seem that customers are searching for companies, businesses are the ones who should be reaching out to them. In other words, you need to customize the site to entice the audience.
Here are 8 steps that will help you create SEO customer journey:
1. Analyze user intent and purchasing tendencies
Like with any other business operation, your first task is to define the ideal customer persona. Discover your optimal demographics and what their buying process looks like. Are they conservative or liberal consumers? Are they more likely to buy several products after purchasing the first one? What makes a perfect brand for them?
Analyzing your target demographics is the first and most important part of your SEO strategy. In fact, you need to perform this process before creating a website. In the end, if your site doesn’t connect with the target audience, you won’t be able to sell to them.
2. Analyze sites with high conversion rates
A good way to learn more about the industry is by checking out the best-performing sites. Our suggestion is to focus on platforms that have a high conversion, not necessarily high traffic. Why is that? Well, you can always increase traffic by spending money, but it requires good branding to sell to the audience.
In other words, you’re trying to find competitors who are speaking to the target audience the right way. Check their branding practices, and analyze visitor demographics. Find their best-converting pages, and try to discover why they’re so successful.
If possible, you should also analyze the traffic sources and how visitors are reaching their product pages. Learn more about their process and implement it on your own.
3. Perform keyword research
One of the common mistakes SEO experts make is focusing too much on SEO. Even if this sounds contradictory, their main task is not to drive traffic but to drive converting traffic, AKA leads. SEO professionals often get lost in all the technical data and tend to neglect things that make brands successful.
So, when performing keyword research, you need to look beyond keyword volume and difficulty. Your main task is to determine what kind of an impact search queries will have on your bottom line.
Unfortunately, this can be a very tricky task. For example, you can get tons of traffic on certain web pages, but most people who visit these pages don’t become paying customers. Still, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the web page is useless as it increases your brand awareness, thus passively increasing conversion.
4. Differentiate yourself from the competition
As mentioned, during the awareness and consideration phase, web users are trying to learn more about the potential solutions. Depending on the size of the purchase, they might need several months and even years to make that decision. During that time, they’ll probably make several visits to sites that intrigue them.
This is when you gain or lose clients. Although your pages need to “speak” to buyers, you also need to separate yourself from the field.
Companies falsely presume that a good way to make a competitive advantage is to simply lower your prices. And while this might seem an excellent tactic for generic products, it’s less effective for expensive items. In fact, some people are willing to pay extra to be the first to use the latest iPhone or Rolex.
In other words, differentiating yourself from the competition only makes sense within the frames of fulfilling buyers’ needs.
5. Leave breadcrumbs on your site
Unless you’re a major webshop with an enormous budget, most of your clients will reach your service pages through other pages on the site. Simply put, you can’t outrank these giants in search engine results pages for lucrative money keywords. So, you have to drive traffic to relevant content and then guide the users to product pages.
Here are a few strategies that will help you leave breadcrumbs on your site:
- Make it easier for visitors to reach product pages by having a well-designed menu.
- Use call-to-action on your most popular pages to stimulate browsing.
- Add pop-ups that will feature various offers.
- Advertise your best-selling products on the homepage.
- Use best SEO practices to make the browsing experience a more enjoyable one.
You should use all weapons at your disposal to drive traffic to specific pages. Whether we’re talking about direct, referral, organic, or social media traffic, there are no holds barred when trying to make sales.
Of course, it’s very important to interlink all the pages. Create a logical structure that will lead visitors from less important pages to sales pages. You can also use this strategy to boost the visibility of certain articles on the site.
6. Use other discovery methods
Most brands fail during the awareness or discovery phase. The reason why no one buys from them isn’t that they’re selling bad products or services. It’s because potential customers don’t know that their company even exists.
Aside from the previously mentioned method of leaving breadcrumbs, there are other ways to increase your brand awareness. Even if you wish to focus on organic traffic, you should explore other methods that could improve your ROI.
Most companies try to spread their message via social media. Every industry has its preferred platform, and you can try different options until you find the one that suits you the best. Paid advertising is also an option, and you should consider email campaigns and affiliate marketing as well.
7. Learn from website metrics
During the customer journey, there are bound to be several bottlenecks. For example, you might succeed in driving traffic to your product pages, but you’re still not able to convert them. When such a thing happens, you can use SEO tools to break down different website metrics.
Nowadays, marketing professionals rely on various metrics to assess website performance. Each one of them can provide specific information about a particular behavior. As such, it should be analyzed separately and in conjunction with other metrics. All metrics can be separated into the following categories:
- User engagement metrics (time spent on page, pageviews, pages per session, etc.)
- User adoption metrics (average time spent on the product page, feature adoption rate, etc.)
- User retention metrics (net promoter score, customer churn, average order, etc.)
- Usability metrics (time-on-task, task success rate, user error rate, etc.)
If your product pages have a high bounce rate, this means that your product is irrelevant to visitors. Similarly, if they spend a lot of time on this page and don’t buy, it indicates they probably considered buying your product but eventually went with one of the competitors.
Whatever the case might be, the data can provide lots of valuable insights as to how users behaved during various steps of the way. Obviously, you can use this data to improve your pages. Alternatively, you might wish to place widgets and add-ons meant to stimulate interaction with the site.
8. Don’t forget post-conversion
Post-conversion is every bit as important as other steps if you want to create a healthy, long-lasting brand. Customer acquisition costs can be extremely high for certain products, so you need to make every conversion count. In other words, you need to ensure a high retention rate.
When you sell a product to a customer, it’s crucial to perform a follow-up. You can install add-ons on your site that would interview the visitors, asking them about their purchasing experience. Still, this approach might be a bit too aggressive for people who have bought first time from you.
Alternatively, you can ask people for their emails and send them newsletters. Inform them about the latest offers and other discounts. You can also use these emails to, once again, ask them about their experience. If you have large social media followership, you can occasionally create online polls asking previous clients about their perception of the brand.
If you need an SEO agency to help you create an effective customer journey, contact MiroMind today!