A customer journey is an individual path that a customer takes when acquiring, engaging with, and then retaining your product. Of course, in reality, it’s often not so linear — but rather a cycle of repeated steps in which the same basic issues arise over and over again.
Customer journeys are important because they represent gateways for new customers. Every single step in the journey presents a potential opportunity to sway customers toward giving you their business.
A well-designed website can help support your customer journey by providing quick access to relevant information, allowing for easy discovery of new products, and empowering customers to take proactive steps leading up to purchase.
Today’s eCommerce websites are more than just online versions of physical storefronts. They aim to be well-organized repositories of information where visitors can seamlessly move between categories and product pages, and also access the latest news and other content to continually educate themselves on your company.
To support all this, you need to understand how customers flow through their paths — either leading them toward conversion or rejecting your site as a lost cause.
There’s no one-size-fits-all way to approach building your website. However, there are some solid guidelines that you can use to make sure the experience is seamless and intuitive for visitors, leading them toward the next step in their pursuit of happiness.
Let’s take a look at the basics of customer journeys and how you can implement best practices for your website to support them — starting with design/structure, then moving on to architecture, content, and follow-up.
Design and Structure
Most website customers tend to follow the “F Pattern” as they move through a site. This means they’re likely to begin on your homepage then move down the page, reading information as they go before arriving at secondary pages or content blocks lower down on the page.
The F Pattern is easy enough to implement with a single-column design. But you can also guide your visitors toward specific areas by using content blocks, navigation menus, and other interactive elements to push them in the right direction.
Let’s say you want to stimulate purchase for a product such as a camera. You might place an image of it prominently on your homepage with accompanying text explaining why people would want it, and include a “Buy Now” or similar button near the top of the page.
You might also have a banner ad for that same item at the very top of your sidebar, quietly nudging people to click through to learn more.
In the product description itself, you could include customer reviews from verified buyers who provide more compelling descriptions of what it’s like to use the product. You could include “pop-out” images that show key features, and possibly even a comparison chart to help visitors easily understand how this camera stacks up against similar products.
On your subpages, you might have more reviews, further comparisons with other brands/models, as well as related products for sale.
When it comes to the checkout process, you might create a multi-page checkout system that walks customers through each stage of the process in a clear and concise manner, step by step — with customer service contact information prominently displayed in case they need help.
Structure isn’t just about what things look like — but how they function. This means taking a close look at things like load times, bounce rates, and other technical aspects of website design that can have a direct impact on your conversion rate.
These days high-quality images are essential to making a great first impression. But if these images take too long to load, it’s going to give visitors pause — and might encourage them to continue looking elsewhere.
This is especially true when it comes to your homepage — which can be a make-or-break moment for many visitors. If they don’t find what they’re looking for or get distracted by load times, they’ll leave before things go any further.
Some website builders offer drag-and-drop functionality that gives you the freedom to construct your site however you see fit. But if your page builder doesn’t offer this, you can turn to third-party options.
Whether it’s a full-fledged drag-and-drop editor or an image optimizer, there are plenty of tools available for this — and depending on the level of functionality you need, they can range from free to very affordable.
Architecture & Content Strategy
Now that your website looks amazing and is structured for best results, it’s time to think about how content will support your customer journey. This includes things like site architecture, blogging strategy, and more.
Architecture refers to how your site is set up from a technical standpoint — with functionality like site maps, meta descriptions, 404 pages, etc. It also plays a role in how search engines can index your site and determine relevancy for specific search terms.
Content strategy, on the other hand, is about what kind of content you’ll include on your site. You can share news items, tutorials, company profiles, how-to articles, product descriptions/comparisons — the possibilities are pretty much endless.
Ideally, this information will support your larger business goals, while also being valuable to customers in its own right. But it doesn’t have to be strictly commercial either.
For example, you might include content that helps customers become better informed about certain topics — or content aimed at the business community (e.g., industry news, related blog posts).
Once your customers reach the end of their journey, it’s important to offer them ways to get in touch with you — like a contact form or phone number. This is especially true if they wanted to submit a question or complaint (or even make a purchase).
It might also be helpful to include contextual help and support information. A customer service FAQ page, for instance, might help them quickly find an answer to their question.
You could also create an interactive troubleshooting guide that walks the visitor through common problems and how to solve them. You can then provide resources like additional FAQs or even links to further reading.
All of these elements — design, structure, architecture, and content strategy — are important to keeping your website up-to-date. But they’re also essential for providing a smooth experience for user interaction. This means making it easy for visitors to find what they need quickly and easily, as well as encouraging them to stay on the site longer and come back again in the future. So the next time you’re revamping your site, consider these factors and how they can play a role in the success of what you’re doing.
For more information on implementing your own customer journey, contact the professionals at Ndevr today.