The customer journey is often a long and winding road. And that means it can be difficult to track your business’s effectiveness at each phase of the journey. The easiest way to gain greater clarity around your customer journey, and to identify strong points and weak spots, is to pinpoint and evaluate key performance indicators (KPIs) for each phase of the journey.
Once you find the metrics that can help you understand your business’s effectiveness in guiding the journey at each stage, you can begin to make changes to your existing approach. You can find ways to lean into the tactics that are working and eliminate the less effective elements of your strategy.
Because the journey changes so much over time, there are different KPIs to consider at each phase. Let me walk you through the most important KPIs to focus on for each stage of the customer journey.
Know, Like, and Trust
At the top of your marketing hourglass are the know, like, and trust phases of the customer journey. This is where customers first discover your business and then come to understand what you do.
The first thing you’ll want to know at this part of the journey is how many people are actually discovering your business online. To measure this, you can turn to metrics on organic and paid search campaigns.
A tool like Google Search Console allows you to understand how your keywords are performing. You can see search traffic and reach. You can track which queries are actually bringing visitors to your website. When you understand these SEO metrics, you can revisit your keyword research and make tweaks to boost your SEO.
Tracking paid search results is also critical in this stage. Understanding metrics on your ad campaigns like the quality score (which measures the relevance of your keywords) and clickthrough rate give you a deeper understanding of how many people are seeing your ads, and whether or not your copy is compelling enough to get viewers to click your link.
Once you move into the like phase, you begin to evaluate metrics that cover engagement on your website and social media. It’s important to track the number of visitors you have to your website. Are they all first-timers, or do you have return visitors? How many times do people generally visit your site before they move onto the conversion phase of the marketing hourglass? All of this information can help you understand potential bottlenecks in the know, like, and trust portion of the hourglass.
Social media engagement metrics also give you insight into the like and trust phases. How many people are following your accounts? Are you steadily growing your audience? And beyond just the number of followers, are those who follow your account interacting with your content? Are people liking, commenting, and responding to your follow-ups? More engaged followers on social indicates that the content you’re sharing is helpful and meaningful to your audience. You’re doing the work of truly earning their trust.
Try and Buy
Once you’ve won prospects over initially, they move closer towards the ultimate conversion goal: making a purchase. But before they hand over their credit card information, they want the opportunity to try what your business offers. They need that final assurance that everything will go smoothly if they decide to buy.
When it comes to the try phase, you want to measure metrics that clearly showcase the gap between people who were in those early marketing hourglass phases and those who’ve made it to this next level. Tracking site visits versus conversions by source is a great way to visualize this gap.
Is there a certain channel that drives more traffic to your site than others? Maybe you see most of your traffic coming from your Instagram profile. The content you’re creating there is meaningful enough to vault those followers up to the try and buy phase. From there, you also want to measure conversions by channel.
Let’s say that only a tiny sliver of those Instagram followers actually convert once they visit your site. But a larger number of folks coming through your newsletter—a less-popular channel overall—take the next step with your business. That gives you some insight into the effectiveness of the messaging on your newsletter versus your Instagram. While the Instagram content attracts more positive attention, it somehow doesn’t sync up with what visitors find on your website (hence the high number of visits but low conversion). Your newsletter, on the other hand, isn’t as compelling, but provides a clearer picture of the work you do.
Measuring Call to Action button and landing page performance can also provide valuable information at this stage. Are people actually clicking on your CTAs, be they on your website, in your social ads, or in your newsletter? And once they’ve clicked the CTA and landed on your website, are they filling out the form they find there to take the next step to try or buy—whether that’s requesting a demo to give you a try or making a first purchase?
Repeat and Refer
The final phase in the hourglass takes you beyond the initial purchase and into the realm of your long-term relationship with customers. Do your customers like you enough to return to you for additional purchases? And beyond even that, would they refer you to a friend?
There are a handful of KPIs that can help provide clarity around those questions. Retention rate is one of them: How many of your customers are sticking around come renewal time? If you run a gym, do you see people renewing their memberships month after month? Or is there a big drop-off at some point in the cycle?
If you see a pattern in your retention rate, why is that? For the gym that sees a big drop-off in March, as those New Year’s Resolution folks begin to drift away from working out, can you provide an incentive then to get them to stay on? It doesn’t even need to be monetary; maybe it’s a class with a popular instructor called “Maintain Your Resolutions Through the Spring.” And those who signed up for gym membership in December or January are given first dibs on spots.
Reviews can also help you identify issues in your customer journey. Do you keep seeing positive feedback on your customer service team? That means you’ve created an empowered team who’s willing and able to go the extra mile for your customers (a great way to boost retention). But at the same time, do you see a common complaint that leads customers to turn to your customer service team in the first place? If so, take steps to remedy that issue that multiple customers have identified in reviews.
And finally, there’s the Net Promoter Score, or NPS. If you’ve ever taken a survey for a business, you’ve likely encountered the NPS question: “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”
People who respond with a nine or 10 are known as promoters—loyal fans of your business. Folks in the seven to eight range are in a bit of a no-man’s land; they’re considered passive. While they’re happy enough with you, they could just as easily go with a competitor, if the right offer came along. Anyone ranking you a six or below are considered detractors. They’re unhappy with you and could do damage to your business with negative word-of-mouth.
Understanding how many of your customers are enthusiastic supporters versus how many could take you or leave you (or worse, bad-mouth you to a friend), helps you gain clarity around the final steps of the customer journey. With detractors, you did everything early on in the hourglass well enough to get them to buy from you. But something went awry in the last few steps, and now they’re unhappy enough to tell others about their negative experience. That’s valuable information! From there, you can assess things like your onboarding process for new clients and take a closer look at your customer service approach to identify weak spots.
When it comes to getting a better understanding of your customer journey, it’s not enough to rely on your gut. The journey is complex. The best way to understand it is with cold, hard data. By tracking specific KPIs for each phase of the customer journey, you can identify the strengths and weaknesses in your strategy, and make tweaks accordingly to better facilitate a smooth journey for your customers.
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