Creating a Customer Journey: 10 Steps to Web Copy That Converts

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Is your website under-performing? Did you create your site thinking that customers would flock to it to buy your goods and then…crickets. The phone isn’t ringing. The order confirmations aren’t flooding your inbox. You wonder, “Why aren’t people engaging on my website? Why aren’t people calling me, emailing me, or downloading my freebie when they visit?”

The answer: It’s because you haven’t told them what you want them to do.

You need a customer journey.

Simply put, a customer journey is a path of movement and action for the visitors on your site; from the first headline they read, to the last click of the mouse. This path, laid out by you, tells the visitor where you want them to go and what do you want them to do when they get there.

A successful customer journey gives your site visitors a focused and seamless interaction with your brand — something every website owner aspires to.

Done correctly, the customer journey motivates your visitors to interact with you.

It shows them that you understand their problem and that you have the exact solution they need. It instills a feeling of trust and credibility toward your brand and products. It also helps the customer to feel empowered, engaged and in control of their decision, rather than being bombarded with Buy This NOW! messages.

The famous saying goes, “We buy from people we know, like, and trust.” A customer journey allows your audience to get to know you a little, like you (or at least like what you are saying) and trust that you have some expertise. However, it is not necessary to talk excessively about yourself, your company or your products to have people know, like and trust you. In fact, the biggest mistake most businesses make is talking too much about themselves. Keep the focus on reflecting the customer’s point of view, because that is what’s critical to creating more sales. Design consumer-centric communication and your customers will respond positively.

To begin, you need to know about your customer.

My video on how to develop a customer avatar will help you get started. Understand your customer, specifically:

  • What motivates them? What are their values?

  • What is their goal for visiting your site?

  • What problem are they looking to solve? What pain points do they have?

  • What other solutions might they be looking at? Where are they getting their information?

  • What reasons might they have not to buy?

Next, you can start laying out the customer journey.

Ask yourself:

  • How do you want people to engage on your site?

  • Which pages do you want them to visit?

  • In what order do you want them to visit those pages?

  • What do you want them to do on those pages?

You need to take charge of the way visitors consume the information on your site. Don’t just trust or take for granted that they will arrive at the right page or see the right button at the right time. People rarely do — don’t leave it to chance. You need to lead the visitor through a thought process. It needs to be logical, simple and always come from their perspective.

Start with a hypothesis.

Build from an idea or a structure of a journey that you think will work. Later you will be checking your Google Analytics to get a sense of how people are actually interacting with your site. Take note of which pages they’re going to and how long they’re spending on those pages. Start to iterate, change and evolve the site over time using customer feedback, data, and quantifiable results.

Here are my 10 steps for creating a customer journey that converts:

Step 1: State the problem

Demonstrate to the customer that you understand their problem by writing a solid headline. Get their attention by showing them you know what they’re looking to solve. You’ve got about 3 seconds to prove you understand them, so the headline is very important. But don’t worry, you can change it if it’s not working or not working as well as you like. Keep testing this important piece of copy because it’s worth getting right.

To really show you understand the reader, use examples of the kinds of thoughts they may have or the other solutions they may have tried. In the body copy, use tangible examples in a storytelling format so your audience can really identify with it.

Step 2: Identify with the problem

Next, you need to show that you understand the problem and more importantly, have empathy for them as they wrestle with all the ordeals they have in experiencing the problem. Spend a line or two letting them know that solving their problem matters to you.

Step 3: State the solution

What is the solution to their problem? Describe the solution in general terms. Don’t mention your particular product or service just yet. State the solution in a sentence or two at the most.

Step 4: Describe the solution

Give the reader an introduction to your products and services. This is the “what” of what you offer. You can begin to talk about yourself a little in this section. A few sentences that help the reader understand what you do is ideal.

Step 5: Why you?

Let the reader know how your products/service solve the problem. Let them know what your specific solution is, and how it can help them. Be sure not to be long winded or braggy. What will you do for them? How will you do it? Be careful to steer clear of features here. Avoid talking about the all-leather soles of the boots you are selling, but instead, focus on how comfortable your customer will feel in those boots.

Step 6: Why you’re unique

Now that the reader knows you understand them and you understand that their problem is frustrating, they are likely to begin to feel like you understand them. This is the perfect time to let the reader know how your products and services are different. Demonstrate, through examples if you can, why your solution is different from the other people in your industry who do what you do.

Step 7: Get slightly braggy

This is your opportunity to lead them to understand that you’re the one they should choose. Talk about your products and services and how they’re better. For example, if you sell lip balm, let the reader know your product will heal and moisturize their dry, cracked lips (Step 6). Telling them about the healing properties of vitamin E and the moisturizing properties of avocado oil that you use, and how it’s helped hundreds of other people (Step 7) will help them understand why they should choose you.

Step 8: Results for them

Turn the spotlight back on them. Describe the result of using your product and remember to stay focused on benefits. Explain the emotional benefit as well as the functional benefit from engaging with you and buying or using your products or services. How are they going to feel? Remember, people buy results, not products.

Step 9: Barriers to purchase

Barriers to purchase are the thoughts that are going on in the customer’s mind that dissuade them from buying. Thoughts like, “No, I’m going to wait,” or “I’m not going to buy it because x,” If you can understand what x is (it’s often something like, “It’s too expensive,” or “It takes too much time,”) you can be preemptive about describing why they can feel confident in buying your product or service. Address any barriers to purchase by mirroring their inner voice exactly.

Step 10: Call to Action

Lastly, you need to tell them where to go and what to do.

Examples are:

  • Follow this link

  • Click this button

  • Fill out this contact form

  • Schedule time with me

  • Download this thing

  • Take this course

Be very explicit about telling them what to do next. After all, you’ve led them through this customer journey and now they believe you can solve their problem. Take the last step and tell them what they need to do to set your solution in motion.

Your customer journey may start out very simple and over time become more nuanced and detailed.

If you remember to keep the focus on your visitor’s goals and motivations for coming to your site, your customers will respond. Be willing to get in their shoes and think about their problem; what motivates them to change or take action?

If you do that along every step of the way, you will create copy that converts.

Philip VanDusen is a creative thought leader and principal of Verhaal Brand Design, an agency that specializes in leveraging brand strategy and design to build brand affinity and equity for companies and entrepreneurs. Get more from Philip in his newsletter brand•muse, join his 160k subscribers on his YouTube channel or connect with Verhaal Brand Design on Facebook.