What are the Steps in the Customer Journey?
Every company makes purchasing decisions differently, so no two customer journeys are 100% similar. However, we can still model the customer journey using models of varying complexity.
A simple customer journey model is known as the AIDA model:
The AIDA model indicates a 4-step process wherein the prospect becomes aware of your brand and eventually makes a purchase:
- Awareness – The prospective customer has become aware of your brand and the services you provide.
- Interest – The prospective customer is interested in the services you provide.
- Desire – The prospective customer desires your services.
- Action – The prospective customer takes action to purchase your services.
The diagram above also indicates the types of content you might expect your prospects to engage with at each stage of the customer journey. Prospects become aware of your business through paid advertising and organic search, you nurture their interest with email newsletters and fresh web content, you make them desire your solutions with white papers and brochures that demonstrate the value of your products or services, and you convince them to take action with case studies and testimonials that prove your success.
This early description of the customer journey worked well for B2C print advertisements, but is probably too simplistic to describe how modern B2B organizations make purchasing decisions in a digital-first world.
The following six-step model describes how the buyer journey might work for a modern enterprise purchasing a B2B SaaS product or service:
- Problem Identification – The customer journey begins when the prospect identifies a problem.
- Solution Exploration – The customer journey continues with solution exploration, where the prospect searches for potential solutions to their problem in the marketplace.
- Requirements Building – After identifying many potential solutions, the prospect will work to establish their requirements for an ideal solution. This will allow the prospect to make an informed decision as to which supplier can best meet their needs.
- Supplier Selection – The prospect will engage with multiple brands and service providers before choosing a supplier. The decision may be based on product/service specifications, responsiveness, customer service, pricing, and other factors.
- Purchase Decision – The prospect will make a purchasing decision based on the results of their supplier selection process.
- Customer Success and Retention – After the sale happens, new customers will engage with customer success teams who work to ensure high levels of customer satisfaction and retention.
- Advocacy – The ultimate goal of the customer journey for B2B SaaS companies is to turn customers into advocates who will freely promote your products and services to their professional networks.
The more you can understand how your prospective customers navigate their purchasing decisions, the better you’ll be able to produce content that addresses their concerns and helps them move to the next stage in the process of becoming your customer.
Customers will engage with your brand in many different ways and demonstrate a variety of purchasing behaviors throughout the customer journey – that’s why marketers spend time developing marketing personas, buyer personas, and ideal customer profiles.
These tools allow marketers to better understand different types of customers and meet their expectations throughout the customer journey.