Shopper Insights, Buyer Journey

  |   8 Min Read

Using Your Customers Path to Purchase to Identify Holes in Your Marketing

Now that the new year is here, it’s time to make a resolution to plug the holes in your marketing strategy.

But, how can you identify what type of content you need to add to your marketing strategy? One effective way is to map marketing efforts against your customer’s path to purchase. Wherever your customer is in the customer journey, your company needs to market its products in a way that speaks to their needs.

Here’s how to use the customer journey to identify holes in your marketing — and provide a foundation for a strong marketing strategy.


Understanding the Path to Purchase

As the saying goes: you can’t know where you are going until you know where you have been. For marketing purposes, it’s more like this: you can’t get your customer where you want them to go until you know how they will get there.

The path to purchase outlines the stages your customer goes through as they engage with your company, product, or service. At its simplest, the customer journey has three stages: awareness, consideration, and purchasing.

It is vitally important to understand what the customer experiences at each stage of the journey. One useful framework is to ask yourself (and your customers, through customer research) about the following four things for each stage:

  • Actions. What is the customer doing at each stage? How? By what channels are they searching for your specific category of goods or services? Does this happen entirely online, or in-store? Or some combination of the two? And what actions are they taking at each stage?
  • Motivations. What motivates the customer? How do they feel at each stage?
  • Questions. What questions and uncertainties does the customer have at each stage? How do they find answers to these questions? Do these uncertainties prevent them from moving on to the next stage?
  • Barriers. Are there barriers that prevent customers from moving on to the next stage?

To understand the customer journey, it’s best to go to the experts: the customers themselves. Invest in customer research to deeply understand your customer’s path to purchase.

(Want more detail on understanding the path to purchase? Check out this page.)


Identifying Holes in Your Marketing

The path to purchase and the framework surrounding it should be used as a launching point for all kinds of marketing ideas.

Your marketing needs to speak to the customer at each stage of their journey. It needs to speak to their motivations and uncertainties to move them along the path until they make a purchase with your brand.

The path to purchase affects every aspect of your marketing, including:

  • Content. Your brand should have content for each stage of the path to purchase. Perform a content audit to evaluate if that’s the case by reviewing each step in your path, and if you have any content directly addressing pain points in that step, or addressing something that will help customers complete that step. If your content does not, you’ve identified a hole to plug.
  • Marketing channels. Your channel mix should line up with the path to purchase. Think broadly about which channels will work for you. Knowing which platforms your customers are on, or which websites they visit prior to purchasing your product can also help.
  • Advertising. Understanding the path to purchase will help you evaluate if you’re putting enough into the right advertising streams. Are you advertising to your customer at the right time and in the right place?
  • Product development. If a barrier to purchase is that your product doesn’t have a certain feature, then adding that feature should be considered.  
  • Design and functionality. If the majority of your customers are purchasing on their phones, then the shopping cart function needs to work seamlessly on mobile devices.

You’ll soon be able to identify gaps across each of these areas. Prioritize stages in the customer journey for which content is inadequate or channels don’t reach customers. These are the holes that need to be filled first.

Rather than starting from the ground up, look for content that can be updated or repurposed to plug the hole. Turn a series of blog posts into an e-book or create a video based on a whitepaper. Find ways of using what you already have.

In addition to looking at the holes, note which channels, content, etc are working best for which stage of the customer journey. By examining what’s missing and what’s already working, you have a headstart on a strong marketing strategy, all from understanding your audience’s path to purchase.

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