How to Make Your Product Stand Out During the Customer Journey

The key is understanding human patterns

The way to stand out nowadays is through personalized content. Getty Images
Headshot of Molly St. Louis

If you’ve ever walked through Times Square in New York, you’ve definitely experienced slow walkers ahead of you. They’re usually tourists looking up at all the beautifully lit billboards telling them what shows to see, where to eat and what underwear to buy.

It’s all so overwhelming that they forget how their feet work. And no one’s blaming them: it’s kind of how we all feel when we enter the digital world and get slammed with a million messages.

According to a recent study by Adobe, consumers spend an average of almost eight hours per day consuming digital content—most of them, across numerous devices, simultaneously. This bottomless buffet of content makes it pretty hard for consumers to focus, presenting marketers with the ever-present challenge of standing out in the crowd.

To add yet another layer of complication, new platforms with which to serve content are cropping up just about every day. How is a marketer supposed to find the yellow brick road that is their digital strategy in all this?

As always, it’s about understanding human patterns.

Start with the customer journey

If you haven’t developed a customer journey map, you might want to get on that ASAP. According to a recent study, companies that invest in creating a formal customer journey map receive a 54 percent greater return on their marketing efforts.

While customer journey maps vary from company to company, they all ultimately boil down to four basic steps:

  1. Discovery: the phase in which your customer learns that you exist.
  2. Consideration: when the customer begins to research your product more thoroughly.
  3. Transaction: obviously occurs when your product is purchased.
  4. Advocacy: when the customer loves your product so much, they recommend it to their friends.

“Understanding the customer journey starts with taking a holistic view of CX,” said Ben Billups, CEO and founder of Billups. “Marketers need to constantly challenge their assumptions and seek out new data to understand the customer journey.”

And that all starts with tracking digital behavior.

Get device interaction data

Think about the last time you were in the market for a certain product. How did you search? If you were like most consumers, you probably did so using different devices for different purposes.

“When thinking about which platforms to take advantage of, marketers need to first understand their audiences and how they use each platform,” said Maxwell Mabe, senior product marketing manager at Adobe Experience Manager Assets. “Keeping your audiences’ preferences and goals for each platform top of mind is crucial to an effective content strategy.”

To illustrate this point, here’s how some stats from Adobe’s study touch each phase of the customer journey:

  1. Discovery: 48 percent of customers will research the product on the brand’s website, 40 percent will go to a store to look at the product.
  2. Consideration: 58 percent of consumers use a smartphone or connected device in a store to help inform their purchases.
  3. Transaction: 59 percent of consumers will buy a product at an online marketplace, versus the 49 percent that visit a store.
  4. Advocacy: 40 percent of customers are twice as likely to engage with a brand’s email after their purchase.

Understanding how digital is used in every stage of the process means that you will be infinitely more efficient in delivering the right message on the right channel. For example, maybe you won’t put too much time into email marketing at the Discovery phase, but rather deploy a big email push in the Advocacy phase to generate return customers.

Personalizing content

Marketers are constantly talking about the struggle of having their content stand out. You might have a great product and beautifully designed digital ads, but hey, so does everyone. The way to stand out nowadays is through personalized content.

“The best brands and marketers today are platform agnostic and focused on delivering localized and contextual content based on where, when and how customers are engaging,” said Billups.

Using the customer insights gleaned from your customer journey mapping, the natural next step is to create content that speaks to the customer that you know so well. There are numerous third party technologies that can help you deliver your crafted messages to the right people, on the right channel, at the right time. But it is imperative that your messaging is deeply rooted in the digital customer journey for each of your targets.

The more specific you get with your messaging, the more impactful the results. The best part is, when customers interact with your brand more, the byproduct is even deeper insights into their behaviors—which you can take and adjust for better results each time.

And that’s where the digital customer journey gets really interesting.

@MollStLouis Molly St. Louis is a freelance writer for Adweek.