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Understanding the path to purchase

Wayne McMaster

8 February 2017

The customer path to purchase is a fascinating journey. In the high-end home category, where prices command a premium and purchase cycles are inherently long, the path to purchase can be filled with equal parts anxiety and anticipation for consumers. That’s why it’s important for marketers to understand how a consumer’s mindset and emotions evolve at each stage of the purchase decision process, as well as the best way to optimize marketing communications at each brand touchpoint.
A good map will graphically illustrate, through the eyes of your customer, the process of evaluating and purchasing your brand. The insight that a marketer gains often yields better marketing communications and an improved shopping experience – which, of course, can drive profits.
Customer experience maps come in all forms. Some are simple and to the point. Others are highly complex. The best ones are highly empathetic to the customer’s point of view, and demonstrate how we as marketers can improve the purchase process in a marketing environment that is increasingly complex and interconnected.

Most customer experience maps follow a conventional sales funnel, with stages devoted to awareness, research, purchase, etc. Many maps then layer the customer’s emotional state as he or she interacts with the brand during each stage. In a Harvard Business Review article, Adam Richardson suggests a helpful framework:
• Actions: What is the customer doing at each stage? What actions are they taking to move themselves on to the next stage?
• Motivations: Why is the customer motivated to keep going to the next stage? What emotions are they feeling? Why do they care?
• Questions: What are the uncertainties, jargon or other issues preventing the customer from moving to the next stage?
• Barriers: What structural, process, cost, implementation or other barriers stand in the way of moving on to the next stage?

By understanding what it’s like to walk in your customer’s shoes, your team will be in a much better position to improve the experience.

Click to read Richardson’s article, “Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience.”Click to read Richardson’s article, “Using Customer Journey Maps to Improve Customer Experience.”

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