It’s Time to Start Designing for the Customer Journey
Today, marketing as a mere promotional channel is not effective. Customers’ expectations are rising by the second. And everyone developed a strong sense of resistance towards promotional content.
It’s getting challenging for companies to attract and keep their customers. According to Hubspot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report, generating traffic and leads is the number one challenge for marketers in 2017.
Creative ads, newsletters, and a social media presence are not sufficient to seduce and convert prospects. Customers nowadays, expect companies to understand them and offer outstanding experiences, not just products or services.
In an attempt to better understand and serve customers’ expectations, marketers resorted to customer journey mapping. Every customer goes through a set of steps before making a purchase. Marketers are trying to better understand those steps and create experiences around them.
The customer journey was used for a while to map content throughout the three stages. However, customer experience is not limited to content. A big part of how people experience your brand is your brand’s visual identity and design.
To win your customers hearts, you need to start designing for the customer’s journey. It’s important to offer delightful experiences at all stages, and design plays a huge role in achieving that.
Why Is The Customer Journey Important
Every customer goes through three phases before making any kind of purchase.
- Awareness: The awareness stage is where customers experience symptoms of a problem. They are trying to better understand their issue. At this stage they are looking for information about the problem itself rather than the solution.
- Consideration: The consideration stage is where the customer starts looking for solutions for their issue. They have a clear idea of their need and are browsing options.
- Decision: the last stage of the journey is where the customer is ready to make a purchase. After checking different options, the customer knows what the market offers and is ready to buy the right product.
It’s important to recognize that different users visit your website with different purposes. Understanding the customer journey allows you to better visualize how your customers think and behave.
If you wish to increase customer satisfaction, you need to deliver experiences that match prospects’ expectations and needs at all stage. The customer journey makes it easier for you to predict people’s intentions and aspirations. It gets you closer to your customers’ pain points and needs.
Why is Design Mapping Important?
Design mapping consists of delivering designs that fit customers’ expectations at every stage of the journey. In other words, your visual communication needs to adapt to the needs and desires of your customers at different points of their experience.
It is no doubt that design impacts considerably how people perceive and experience your brand. Your brand’s reputation and success relies heavily on your design. That is why design should be part of the equation when optimizing your marketing for success.
Mapping your designs for the customer journey increases customer satisfaction. Customers are happy when they feel understood and appreciated. The more adapted and considerate your design is to their needs, the happier your customers will be.
Using the customer journey to plan you design materials helps you anticipate your user’s actions and behavior. At different stages, prospects are seeking different outcomes. Design helps you facilitate and lead their journey to their desired outcome.
Design mapping also allows you to orient customers’ experience and lead them down the customer journey stages. By offering them exactly what they’re seeking, customers will be ready to move to the next stage. Understanding their needs will help your make their journey shorter and bring them closer to the purchasing stage.
How to Design for The Customer Journey?
After understanding what your customers are looking for at every stage, you should adapt your design experience accordingly. At each step, your design needs to help customers easily reach what they’re looking for. Additionally, your design needs to enforce your branding at every stage of the journey. Here is how you can map your design needs at every step of the customer journey:
At this stage, your design’s main purpose is grabbing attention and getting people to click and read more. Your prospects will most likely come across your visual material through social media or a google search. Here are the best design practices for your awareness stage design material:
- Light Branding: Prospects are usually indifferent towards branding at this point. They are more interested in getting information about their issue. They are not looking for solutions or products yet. However, it’s still very important to lightly brand your visuals. Make sure to always include your logo or any other reminder of your brand. Although minor, branding nurtures familiarity. Be careful to not blatantly promote your brand. That will drive your prospects away. Your customer’s priorities come before yours.
- Bright Colors: Color combinations are very important at this stage. Your designs need to be attractive and appealing. Opt for bright and cheerful colors that people can’t miss. But still make sure to use compatible combinations that ease the gaze. You can be bright and shiny but still classy.
- Clear and Bold Typography: Your text should be clear and bold. Remember that your prospects will spot your designs outside of a website or blog. Make sure your typography is visible in a social media feed or google search. Some fonts are easier to read than others.
- Avoid Abstract: Your visual message should be clear and apparent. Avoid using illustrations that are too abstract. Keep in mind the context where prospects stumble upon your visuals. People won’t take the time to stop and try to figure out what you mean from your Facebook post. Some ambiguity could be useful sometimes for mystery effect. But generally, you want your awareness visuals to be straightforward and easy to decode.
The consideration stage is where your prospect starts looking for solutions to their problem. Your prospects start to get familiar with your brand. The purpose of your brand experience at this point is to establish credibility and authority. Additionally, your design should aim to incite conversions and subscriptions. Here are a few tips to consider for better results:
- Sophisticated and Sleek Design: Your design plays a big role in establishing trust and credibility. People judge your brand based on looks more than you think. Your touch points with your customers at this stage will be your homepage, blog, or landing pages. Sadly, you only get one chance to make a good impression. Therefore, it’s crucial to have a clean and sophisticated design at this step. Your design will help you establish professionalism and reliability, and ultimately, gain your prospect’s trust.
- Design Flow: Apart from communicating your brand values, design helps you guide your prospects throughout the experience. At this stage, prospects are searching for solutions to their issue. Your design can help lead visitors’ attention and trajectory in your website. For instance, contrasting colors can direct people’s focus to certain elements in your page. Your design should make the transition from “visitor” to “subscriber” smooth for prospects.
- Action Driven Design: The ultimate objective of your design at this point is to make prospects take action – opt in. Your design should make that accessible and closer to the user. Don’t make people look for your sign-up form because they won’t. Make your clickable content pop out. Make your buttons and form fields attractive. And avoid using long forms.
- Branded Resources: Apart from your website and landing pages, prospects can bump into some of your marketing resources. For instance, a guide, case study, or ebook. It’s important to considerably brand your marketing materials. Unlike awareness visuals, these resources should include your logo, colors, and link back to your website or landing page. At this point, people are interested in your service or product, so your branding won’t be intrusive or bothersome.
This is the final stage of the journey. Your prospects are ready to make a decision. They are browsing their options one last time to pick the right solution to their problem. Your objective at this stage is to prompt buying. Your design should enforce your brand value proposition and position your product as the best solution in the market. Here are a few ways to achieve that:
- Customized Experience: In competitive markets, user experience at decision stage is often decisive. Again, it’s important to make prospects feel that you understand their needs and that your product solves their exact pain points. The best way to show empathy and appreciation is by personalizing communication. At the decision stage, email will be your main touch point with qualified leads. Use e-mail segmentation and adapt your email design to each campaign. Use images that customers can relate to. Talk to their sensitivities and pain points. The more targeted your message, the better results you’ll get.
- Show Product or Service: Showing your customers what they’re getting is a great way of getting them excited. Pictures provoke emotional responses. If a customer still hesitates about the purchase, a picture can trigger a spontaneous action. This works for software and services as much as it works for material products. Include a preview of your tool or app to get people enthusiastic. You can include it in emails, pricing page, spec or comparison sheets, and the checkout page.
- Landing Pages: landing pages are effective because they are focused on a unique objective. At the decision stage, your landing page will be focused on generating sales. Remember that the power of landing pages reside in how concise and goal oriented they are. Make sure your landing page design is simple, attractive and most importantly contains one CTA and not more.
The amount of content that we create every day is mindblowing. The internet has facilitated the creation and distribution of content. And everyone has become a content curator.
It’s becoming extremely difficult for companies to make their content stand out. It’s not enough to create outstanding content anymore. A lot of good quality content is buried, and viral content is most likely funny or scandalous rather than interesting.
Companies today need to start looking for alternative ways to attract and keep customers. Creating quality content is not enough. One proven way to satisfy 21st century’s customers is through delivering phenomenal experiences.
To create and deliver memorable experiences a marketer needs to make usage of all resources at their disposal. Design is one of the most important elements of any user experience.
Many people will argue that design is not a marketer’s job. But I want to ask those people, do you know any designer that will take the time to understand and adapt their work to the customer journey? Unless it’s an unlimited graphic design service, designers don’t usually have the patience to study, understand, and adapt to your marketing objectives.
A marketer’s job today is shifting towards a more holistic view of the user experience. Marketing shouldn’t be about creating content and sharing it anymore. It should aim to create outstanding experiences that everyone will talk about. And to achieve that, a marketer should have a saying in design, sales, and even IT if necessary.
Article written by: Nada Allouch