Understanding the 7 Stages of the Customer Journey
Although we all wish that someone bought our product or invested in our service immediately after hearing about us for the first time, it more often than not doesn’t always work that way. It involves a little bit of nurturing and taking the time to build that know, like, and trust factor — and it’s once that trifecta is achieved that those consumers will be ready to buy from you.
That means it’s important to understand the customer journey and how people go from just hearing about you for the first time to being ready to hand you their money — and then buy from you again and refer family and friends.
Keep reading as we dive in further to break down the seven stages of the customer journey: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer.
The “know” stage is when people just hear about you for the first time and are starting to understand who you are, what you do, and how you help. It’s the concept of getting seen in front of new faces, outside of the audience you’ve already built, to bring these people into the overall sales funnel and customer journey.
But one of the biggest things people struggle with is just getting known — how can they expand their audience, grow their community, and build more connections? It all starts with getting people to know you through online visibility methods, such as:
- Getting featured in the media. Can you be a guest on a podcast, write an article for a publication, or get filmed for a news segment? These are easy ways to “expose” yourself to new people through a medium that they already know, like, and trust.
- Running social media ads. How many times have you seen a Facebook ad for a product from a company that you’ve never heard of in your life but it’s for a product that you totally needed? It happens all the time. Thanks to Facebook’s excellent targeting capabilities, you can run ads to reach the exact people who fit within your target audience. They might not buy the product right away, but they will definitely remember who you are to potentially come back to you later, which is just as important.
- Networking through organizations and business groups. Attending networking events is the epitome of getting seen in front of new people. You’ll have the chance to meet professionals, share what you do, and then follow up with them after. As you continue to nurture these connections through the customer journey, they might not be in need of your products or services, but chances are they’ll know someone who is.
- Building awareness in Facebook groups. These communities are already full of hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands of individuals who fall within your target market. When you take the time to consistently show up and engage in these groups, people will start to know who you are just from seeing your name over and over again. They can easily help to grow your business.
Ultimately, you want to focus on tapping into audiences that you haven’t been seen in front of before so you can expand your reach and help to bring in new people.
As harsh as this may sound, just because people know you doesn’t mean they like you. That doesn’t mean that they dislike you, though — it just means that they feel indifferent towards you because they know of you but don’t truly know you enough to say, “I really like this person!” or “That company is awesome!”
That’s why getting people to like you is key. How can that be done? Well, you’ve already done the hard part of bringing more people into your circle, and now you just need to show what makes you so great. That gets accomplished by showing who you are as a person, demonstrating your values, and showcasing your personality through:
- Creating videos. As easy as it is to rely more on written content than visual content, video builds a sense of connection that is more difficult to express through written words. Sure, people can read a social media post or blog post and like what they’re reading, but if they’re watching a video that you created and seeing your facial expressions, hearing your voice, and witnessing your passion for what you’re talking about, that takes things to a whole new level and makes it really easy for them to start liking you.
- Getting personal. Who said that business had to be strictly business? People are nosy and want to know the person, or the people, behind the company they’re starting to feel interested in. If you show more of who you are outside of business and how you like to spend your time, you’re building a relationship with the people who are seeing that content.
- Showing what you stand for / what’s important to you. People gravitate towards others who have the same beliefs, thoughts, and values as them. If it makes sense for you to show your support for a certain cause or movement, that helps to get people to like you and respect you more, which does a lot in the long run.
The “like” stage is where people get hooked, as it’s when they’ll want to see even more from you, leading them to the next few stages.
People might know you and like you, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to buy from you yet. Living in a world where it’s unfortunately easy to get scammed or not feel like we got what we wanted for the price that we paid for, people understandably have their guards up before handing over their money. And especially if your product or service is a higher-ticket item, people want to know it’s a good decision for them to make a big investment like that — and that’s where getting people to trust you comes in.
You want people to look at you and say, “They really know their stuff!” and make them feel comfortable and safe around you. Trust is established through two major methods:
- Sharing free, valuable content. There’s no better way to demonstrate your expertise and establish thought leadership than by showing off really interesting insights related to your work, industry, and zone of genius. That can be done by creating podcast episodes, sharing tips in social media posts, writing blog posts, and more. People love to learn, and they especially love to get things for free, so when you use a platform to share helpful information, they start to trust you.
- Collaborating with someone people already know, like, and trust. Tapping into the “clout” of other people works wonders. If you were to partner with someone else to run a webinar or host a workshop, anyone who already trusts that person will now start to trust you just because of your affiliation with them. They’ll say, “Oh, if A is partnering with B on this webinar, then B must really know their stuff because A doesn’t collaborate with just anybody.” It’s a great way to get that “social proof” through the endorsement from others.
The trust stage is crucial because now that people know that you walk the walk and talk the talk, the level of hesitation they had about buying your product or investing in your service is removed — but now you just need to get them to actually buy.
Some people might be ready to go in full force with handing you their money once they trust you (and we love those types of people!), but some people need to dip their ties in the water first before they really go all out — and that’s okay. Giving people the opportunity to try your service or test your product before they fully invest in it is a fantastic way to convince them that they need the real deal.
“Trying” comes in all different forms, and it doesn’t necessarily mean working for free. That wouldn’t make much sense financially to offer free services all the time, now would it? There are ways that you can allow people to “try” your company, though, that feels good to both you and them, such as:
- Signing up for a free consultation. Just about any service-based business will offer the opportunity to have a free call with anyone who’s interested in working with them so they can learn about the process and perhaps talk about strategy. Although they wouldn’t necessarily be getting your services through this call, it gives an inside look into what it would be like to work with you, which is a case of “trying” it.
- Offering a free trial. If you’re checking out some type of software, chances are some type of free tier or free trial is offered. Why do companies do this? They know that you’re hesitant to buy something that you haven’t had the opportunity to use yet, so this is a great way to give you a taste of what to expect. They want to get your foot in the door because then they know it will be that much easier to convert you to a paying customer down the line.
- Purchasing a low offer. “Trying” doesn’t always mean getting something for free. It can mean getting something for a low price, too! People are less skeptical about handing their money over if there’s an option for a low offer for them to buy because the risk is lower if they don’t enjoy it or if they expected more. Once they purchase your lower offer, it will be easier to upsell them to a higher ticket item, and they won’t have much hesitation about purchasing it.
Think about ways people can test your product or service to build more trust, but remember not to offer too much for free to the point where they won’t feel like they’ll need to spend money because they already have all that they need.
Once people test what you sell and they like it, they’ll be ready to buy it. This stage is the most obvious one and happens through people:
- Buying your product. They’ve realized that your product fits the exact bill of what they’ve been looking for and they’ve enjoyed everything you’ve shown them up to this point, so now they’re ready to buy it.
- Investing in your service. They know that they’re in need of your service that will help to bring back time and potentially even money into their own life. They know that by delegating something to you, they’re making an investment in themselves.
The buying stage is the ultimate conversion stage. You’ve done your job of convincing people that your product or service is worth it and they finally took action — but your job doesn’t end here.
You never want people to buy your product or service once and that’s it — you want them to continuously buy your product or service! It’s much more important to retain the customers you have than acquire new ones. Some interesting stats compiled by OutboundEngine:
- Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer
- Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%
- The success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%
Now are you convinced that you need your clients and customers to buy from you again? That happens through customers:
- Buying your product again when they run out or need another. Amazon nails the process of encouraging customers to buy a household product again when it runs out by giving the option to set up a “subscription” for the product to get bought every month or so. Set up an automation series to check in on your customers when their product might be running low to remind them that it’s time to order again.
- Staying on retainer if it’s a service. If you continuously demonstrate the value of the service you’re offering, your clients will never want to leave. This recurring income will add up, especially if you get new clients over time.
- Purchasing a new or complementary product or service. When people purchase one product or service from you, they’ll have no problem purchasing another if it’s something they need. That goes for both new and complementary products or services — meaning, if you release something new that they know will help them, they’ll jump on buying it, and if you offer something that makes what they’re currently using even better, they’ll want to take advantage of that, too.
Always ask yourself how you can get your clients and customers to spend even more money with you than what they’re already spending.
Referrals are the best compliments. They show that someone enjoyed your product or service so much and trusted it enough that they wanted to share it with their family and friends. People trust the recommendations they get from their family and friends a lot — up to 92% of consumers, according to Nielsen.
That means that if you have people who truly love what you offer, you want them to shout that from the rooftops so that other people will love it, too! That can happen by people:
- Leaving a review. We’re all about building social proof, and there’s no better way for that to happen than by encouraging people to leave positive reviews on your social media profiles or online listings. Reviews are a form of referrals because consumers who are on the fence about buying your product or investing in your service will most likely be convinced to do so after hearing about all of the positive experiences others have had.
- Signing up for an affiliate / referral program. People might love your product or service so much that they’ll share about it without anything in return, but if you offer an incentive for people to refer you, that’s where you’ll really hook them in. You can offer an affiliate or referral program that allows people to make money, get a discount, or earn a gift every time they recommend you to someone who becomes a client or customer. If people know they’ll get something out of it, they’ll be more eager to try!
The great thing about referrals is the people who get referred to you will already have some level of trust in you because the recommendation came from someone they trusted. All you have to do is guide them through the other stages.
As you can see, the customer journey is a bit robust and requires some handholding and strategy, but once you find a way to reel ideal clients or customers in and lead them through these stages, getting them to convert will be a no brainer for them, allowing you to make more money and achieve the level of growth you desire.
Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you map your customer journey by filling out our contact form or scheduling a free consultation.
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