How do your customers find you? And once they find you, what do they want?

Knowing the answers to these questions gives you extremely powerful insights into understanding how to convert visitors to your website into paying customers. Just as importantly, it also helps identify what your visitors don’t want.

What frustrations are your prospects experiencing while looking for what they need? As we know, the moment a customer becomes frustrated, they start looking for another business that understands their needs better.

“The moment a customer become frustrated, they look for another business”

Fortunately, no matter how varied each individual prospect’s journey may be, most prospects follow a familiar pattern. Their journey is defined by “touch points.”

Common touch points along a journey may be as simple as this:

The first touchpoint, “Google search” (68% of all searches are with Google) is addressed by implementing an SEO strategy that ensures people looking for your product or service actually find the relevant pages on your website.

The second, “Landing page,” is addressed by User Experience (UX). Do they find what they’re looking for immediately, or do they have a sea of information to swim through? If they see too much information, or information that’s not relevant to what they’re searching for, they may back out immediately. (This is called “bouncing” away from your site, without clicking any further.)

“Do they find what they’re looking for immediately?”

The third, “Browse site,” delves deeper into UX. Once they find what they’re looking for, do they know what to do next? Is the messaging compelling, as to WHY they should choose you?

Is the cart visible? Does it work properly? Are there discount codes visible, to add incentive? Some companies, like VistaPrint, have elevated the practice of discount codes to a fine art, offering discount codes seasonally, for first-time shoppers, repeat shoppers: almost every reason imaginable.

The fourth, “Email signup” – assuming this is part of your desired user journey – begets obvious questions: Do they know WHY they should sign up for emails? Do they know how? Is it easy to opt in (and opt out)? All of these smaller moments will not only affect the likelihood of a sale, but will also affect the user’s impression of you and your brand.

The fifth, “Receive email,” asks whether the email they’re receiving is truly relevant to their needs. In the case of an educational institution, were they browsing nursing courses, and now receiving information on piano lessons? Are the emails graphically pleasing? In a sea of competitors, do they compel a purchase?

Finally, “Make purchase.” At this stage, the first cycle of marketing is complete. But an effective marketing strategy demands the customer be marketed to again, with content relevant to their first purchase. In fact, thanks to that first purchase, we have a much more informed idea of what truly matters to this customer.

Mapping the journey encompasses analytics and personalization. By mapping user flow, from landing pages to subsequent pages, we form an idea of whether our goals are aligning with actual user experience. (Are they going to pages that have low value simply because of the way our navigation is organized? Conversely, are the most important pages hardest to find?)

In terms of personalization, the “2.0” approach is to guide each user individually based on what we know about them from their actions once on the site. This is accomplished by assigning a cookie to each visitor, which forms a history of where they go on the site, and then populates the next pages of the site based on that history.

This creates a truly “customized” experience for prospects.

Only by listening carefully to our customers — by seeking to understand their entire journey — can we serve customers effectively, by helping deliver what they truly need.