The non linear customer journey & buyer Funnels

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The non linear customer journey & buyer Funnels

When it comes to selling your product to customers, there’s a lot more to it than just having great merchandise. The concept of the non-linear Customer Journey and Buyer Funnels can sound like a whole lot of unnecessarily complicated theories, but it’s actually quite a simple one that makes a lot of sense.

The accepted steps in a customer journey/buyer funnel

The most commonly accepted way to represent the customer journey/buyer funnel is using the AIDA model

  1. Awareness – the customer will start looking through a wide range of brands and companies for what they need, often online.
  2. interest – The customer will begin a deeper investigation into what they need. Customer reviews, recommendations and SEO ranked searches will all affect what the customer sees and start steering them into the next step.
  3. Desire –  Creating desire for your product or service through an ’emotional connection’, showing your brand personality. Move the consumer from ‘liking’ it to ‘wanting it’.
  4. Action – The big win! Once the customer has made a purchase, all your efforts have paid off and you’re finished. Or are you?

When you see these in graph form, you will see they form a nice ‘funnel’ shape – hence the name ‘buyer funnel’.

 

What a nice and linear journey! Thank goodness it’s so easy, right?

WRONG.

Humans make non-linear journeys

Unlike this nice, linear list, humans very rarely travel down the straight, linear and logical path. We are creatures driven by emotions and whims, and they’re definitely not always sensible and absolutely non-linear in our journeys. Outside factors can also affect the use of this list – if your mate suggests a gardener when you mention you might start looking for one, his good recommendation can take you straight to the conversion step.

Plus there’s one sneaky step before awareness that you, as the business owner, have no control over – the trigger! Before anything happens, there needs to be a reason your customer starts looking for your product – maybe they have run out, or something has happened that means they now need it. You can’t force a trigger, although you can prepare for them and shape your advertising accordingly.

Here are some examples of triggers you could encounter:

  • Florist: Valentine’s Day is coming up, and people start looking for beautiful (but affordable) flowers.
  • Health insurance: a young adult has aged out of their family’s cover and now must determine which health insurance is best for them.
  • Stationery shop: a new school year is about to start and students need books, pens and other accessories
  • Marketing consultant: the marketing of a small business isn’t doing as well as they would like, and they need outside help.
  • Homeware business: a couple has moved into their new home and needs to buy their everyday appliances.

There is also the chance a roaming customer will see your lovingly crafted marketing at the wrong step in the journey – what if they come across your conversion points when they’re just in the awareness stage?

So many problems! So how can we look at this in a way that will actually make sense for real-life humans?

Check out this video to see a quick breakdown on what it’s all about:

So there we go! We need to view the customer journey as circular, not linear. Customers can go in loops between their awareness and consideration steps as they research and discover different brands, while in the loyalty loop they will keep buying from you once they know and trust your brand.

When trying to map out the journey of a human, keep in mind that the journey isn’t direct and that humans love to diverge. You can even plan for the trigger moment – have your products ready for when someone runs out with a handy multi-pack or first-buyer sale to entice them into choosing your business.

Try to think about what kinds of pain points your customers may experience during their journey, and how your content (distributed through appropriate channels) can help them through this.

All in all, customer journeys and buyer funnels have their place as long as they are adapted to an everyday chaotic and indecisive human! 

Once you have created your customer journey, you will have an amazing tool at your fingertips for figuring out all sorts of problems. Use it for:

  • Creating content tailored specifically for your customer personas. A young mum will respond differently to an ad than a grandmother, so tailor your content to suit your target demographics.
  • Figure out which social media channels will be best for your customer – the audiences of Tik Tok, Twitter and Facebook are all very different and certain ads on one channel won’t work very well on another.
  • Expecting and overcoming customer pain points, to make their relationship with your business much smoother and more enjoyable.

By investigating, creating and then applying the customer journey, you will gain a much greater understanding of your customers, both current and potential. You will be able to tailor your marketing strategies to the kind of customer you want to attract, as well as ensuring they stay a loyal customer once they start buying your product.

The more time and effort you put into investigating the customer journey, the bigger regards you and your business will reap!

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Martin Carlill

Martin Carlill

Martin is founder & lead instructor at Relearn. Martin is a digital marketing specialist with over 20 years experience across inbound marketing strategy, eCommerce, digital strategy, social media, SEO, SEM and content marketing.

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