Digital Readiness Assessment    Digital Business Transformation    Digital Marketing and Sales

How to Optimize Your Website for the Digital Customer Journey

Sebastian Schieke
19 December 2017

The digital customer journey has evolved more than ever before; customers are more connected and more impatient than ever before. In the year 2000, only 22% of the U.S. citizens had made any purchase online but this Pew Research Centre Survey of US adults revealed that 8 in every 10 U.S. adults are now online shoppers. This makes for a precise 79% of online U.S. shoppers overall. Furthermore, the modern customer is greatly empowered with information that during 50-70% of their digital journey they actively research before making a purchase. There is therefore a strong need for websites to match the digital customer journey expectations if they want to maintain a competitive edge.

The digital customer journey on your website

63% of marketers are already making plans to transform their digital customer journey, also referred to as “journey mapping”. Winning marketers make deliberate efforts to research on the following aspects when it comes to optimizing their website:

  • The buyer persona - What is the identity of your ideal customer? What is the customer’s purchasing characteristics, where are the customers in their digital purchasing journey, preferences and situations, and their purchasing ambitions among other details?
  • Outcomes - What the ideal customer seeks to achieve in their purchasing journey?
  • Their Journey - What steps and actions should you as a marketer take to ensure that your customers reach their desired outcome?

The digital customer journey is the set of different stages that a customer goes through with respect to your website before they finally make a purchase. This is otherwise called a “sales funnel”. This could start with maybe a prospective customer carrying out a basic search on google, then first-time look at your website, to subscription for your content through the email list. They then read your content with more interest (think blog posts, e-books, etc.), reach out and maybe even talk to your sales rep, and finally, they figure out whether to buy your solution/product.

Successful mapping of your customer’s digital purchasing requires an in-depth research into the various segments of your target market. It means looking at your individual subpages, to optimize the menu for first time visitors and to resist the temptation to combine various segments in a bid to reach many people.

Identify your customer touchpoints

Customer touch points are points at which the customer interacts with your brand/product/service. This is very specific to every buyer persona, because not everyone subscribes to your newsletter or shares your blog posts. The customer contact with your brand could be a look at your billboard, social media pages, ads, influencers, landing pages, calls to action, or any other platform. CRM and point-of-sale (POS) could also help with customer touch points since they hold great data for analysis.

  • Evaluate which touchpoints are bringing in more customers - which buttons get the most hits and the ones that don’t? How high is your conversion rate?
  • What are some of the customer pain points at these touchpoints? Which topics do they address?  
  • And what could you do to help your customers with their pain points?

Customers now expect the same kind of service that is provided by digital natives such as Amazon and Google with research showing that 25 percent of customers will defect after just one bad experience. The emphasis here is to try to see the world through the customer’s eyes if you are to maintain a competitive edge over your competition.

Evaluate your website using Key Performance Indicators

Key performance indicators are means of measuring your performance in the digital customer journeys. Leading companies start at the top, with a metric to measure the customer experience, and then cascade downward into their key customer journeys and performance indicators. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your website meet the customer’s needs and expectations?
  • Does your website satisfy your customers highly, lowly, or moderately?
  • Of critical importance are there capabilities to identify the opportunities in the digital customer journey using qualitative research, your customer’s experiences and perceptions. This ensures that the digital customer journey is actionable.

Incorporate customer input

Ensure to capture customer perceptions in the digital customer journey maps. Some common sources where to find customer feedback and perceptions include customer reviews, CRM, POS, surveys, forums, and social media platforms among others. Data captured in these sources should be accurately analysed for results. These internal sources of information should be benchmarked with external sources to determine whether there are any particular patterns that emerge from the two. It should then be used to assess improvements of your website leading to a higher conversion rate.

Employ both qualitative and quantitative approaches. Use ethnographic research, customer journey maps, and contextual inquiries among others.

How to optimize your company website for the digital customer journey

  • The first place to start in optimizing your website is to have a plan. Consider your mission, vision, objectives, and strategies. Knowing yourself, your offering is key to determining whether you are still on your plan and whether your offerings are relevant.

  • Secondly, you will need to evaluate your website using KPIs and be sure to restructure your website to meet the particular needs of your customer. Also through data analytics, you will be able to know exactly who your customers are as individuals, what motivates them, what they want to achieve, and the fundamental causes of satisfaction. This knowledge will help your company design and implement a more optimized website that is tailored to their digital journey.

  • The modern customer thrives on information. Ensure you are ahead of the customer in supplying authoritative, interesting, and relevant content through your blog, social media pages, and mobile platforms- meet the customers where they are. This kind of ‘free’ advice that is credible and interesting often gets visitors coming back as well as referrals. This information should be sensitive to each segment at different stages of the customer’s journey.

  • Leverage omnichannel marketing. This means you should encourage store visits through e-commerce and ensure that your customers can order products online. To enhance the digital customer journey, also make sure that you implement cart consistency across multiple channels whereby if a customer places an item in their cart on mobile and then visit the site later on desktop, that same item should still be in their cart. Your website should be compatible with multiple platforms including mobile. Since mobile has become ubiquitous, it means that consumers are carrying out many digital activities on their mobile devices. Ensure that both your website and its contents are mobile-friendly. Make sure you integrate social media options.

Bottom Line

There is a critical need to optimize your website for the digital customer journey through knowing your customer and their particular needs, evaluating your website using KPIs to see whether it meets your customer’s needs, restructuring your website to be customer-friendly, and lastly ensure you supply fresh, authoritative, interesting, and relevant content for each step of the customer’s digital journey.

Mastering the concept and execution of an excellent digital customer journey strategy is downright daunting, but an essential one in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Companies that provide the customer with the best experience from start to finish along the journey can expect to enhance customer satisfaction and improve sales and customer retention rates.

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