Most businesses treat buyers and customers the same way, thus spotting no major difference between their roadmaps toward a particular product or service. However, there are, in fact, several distinctions that you should be aware of.
So, what is the difference between the buyer’s journey and customer journey? Our team will discuss this question in more detail.
What Is The Difference Between The Buyer’s Journey and Customer Journey?
These two journeys are not identical (Image source: Freerangestock).
In simple terms, the “Buyer Journey” leads prospects to a purchase or sales conversion. A “Customer Journey,” on the other hand, goes beyond sales to nurture long-time loyalty.
Main Stages of A Buyer Journey
At the start of the journey, prospects are fully aware of a desire, need, or pain point that calls for a particular service or product. They often learn about relevant brands via articles, online research, videos, or asking someone they know for recommendations.
Businesses should take this chance to grab their attention as early as possible. SEO, social media, email campaigns, and other forms of content marketing are pivotal in guiding the target audience toward your offering.
Now that prospects have identified key problems and possible solutions, they move on to consideration. They actively compare different services and products, search for reviews, and assess which solutions suit their needs better. From there, they will decide what to buy and not to buy.
The best way to engage your potential customers is to offer them valuable information. Product demos, customer reviews, comparison guides, and blog posts are all great resources, highlighting the product’s unique features to set your brand apart from competitors.
Your prospect is very close to their first purchase now that they have evaluated factors like features, brand reputation, and price to narrow all their choices. Just one more step, and they will decide to invest in your product.
To positively influence their decision-making process, you should:
- Give them a clear, compelling CTA (call to action)
- Offer seasonal or limited-time free trials, discounts, or refund guarantees to boost their confidence.
- Make sure the website is user-friendly, the purchase process is seamless, and customer support is easily accessible.
To maintain customer satisfaction, you must extend the journey to post-sales experience, where buyers receive exceptional customer support and have all their issues addressed promptly. The goal is to make sure each and every buyer can maximize their purchase.
Main Stages of A Customer’s Journey
Businesses must invest in long-term relationships with customers (Image source: Flickr).
Sale conversion is not the only decisive factor to marketing success; a business must invest in solid, long-term relationships with its current customers as well.
Here is where customer journeys draw the line with buyer journeys, as the latter mostly focuses on the route toward a particular purchase and nothing more.
This phase encompasses orientation, product setup, and the first interactions between customers and your product/service. It is important to facilitate a smooth, straightforward transition from the first moments of awareness to the business’s other services.
Just like a typical buyer in the buyer’s journey, a customer also spends their money on a product after carefully evaluating all their choices.
However, remember that the Purchase phase is placed toward the end of the buyer’s journey. Meanwhile, in a customer’s journey, it’s just the beginning.
Satisfied, happy customers will turn themselves into active advocates in the future. Hence, during the Engagement stage, you should nurture your relationship with them through personalized experiences (email marketing, campaigns, or recommendations to similar products), educational content, and proactive support (feedback collection, surveys, live chat, etc.)
Customer retention is the ultimate goal of the journey, in which customers keep returning to make purchases and recommend your business to others. Make sure to use exclusive offers and loyalty programs wisely at this phase.
And, as foreshadowed earlier, loyal customers will eventually “evolve” and become brand advocates. Specifically, they will voluntarily and happily promote your products via referrals, social media, online reviews, and word-of-mouth.
Their endorsements and positive experiences will likely inspire new prospects, taking your brand’s popularity and outreach to another level.
A Summary Chart
This table outlines the core differences between the two journey concepts:
Post-purchase phase or relationship-building
Pre-purchase phase, or the prospect’s decision-making process
Customer-centric, emphasizing added value, support, education
Product-centric, focusing on comparisons, features, benefits
Email marketing, feedback loops, surveys, customer service
SEO, product reviews, advertising, social media
Long (years or even more), spanning the whole lifecycle
Short (months, weeks, or even minutes)
Net Promoter Score, Customer Lifetime Value, Retention rate, Customer satisfaction
Lead generation, click-through, conversion rate
Why Both Journeys Are Important
Every brand must embrace both of these journeys (Image source: Picryl).
Needless to say, both the buyer's and customer's journeys are crucial for businesses to understand and optimize, as they represent the two distinct phases a customer goes through in relation to your brand.
Benefits of A Well-Mapped Buyer’s Journey
Understanding Customers’ Pain Points
With a clear representation of the buyer’s journey, you can gain incredible insights into the following questions:
- What triggers customers to consider your product or service?
- What information do they seek during their research?
- What factors influence their final decision?
This knowledge empowers you to tailor your marketing efforts to address their needs effectively, ultimately increasing conversion rates.
Aligning your marketing and sales activities with each stage of the buyer's journey allows you to deliver the right message at the right time.
For instance, during the awareness stage, you can provide informative content that educates potential customers about their problems and how your product or service can solve them. Then, in the consideration stage, consider offering well-built testimonials and credible case studies to build their trust.
Finally, once customers reach their decision stage, you can present targeted promotions and clear CTAs to nudge them toward the desired purchase.
Improved Lead Generation
When you have a complete overview of the critical milestones in the journey, it is easier to come up with effective lead-generation campaigns that attract people who are genuinely interested in what you offer. You will also find it a breeze to identify those in the later stages of the journey or more likely to convert into paying customers.
Benefits of A Well-Mapped Customer’s Journey
As mentioned, a customer’s journey focuses on exceeding customer expectations throughout their entire journey with your brand and not just in the pre-purchase phases. By understanding why customers churn, you can take active steps to address their pain points and prevent them from leaving your brand.
This strategy obviously fosters positive relationships while encouraging repeat business. As a result, you do not have to spend too much time thinking of ways to attract new customers (although it is, of course, still necessary).
Furthermore, marketing campaigns might eventually become unnecessary at one point - now that there are happy advocates who are willing to promote your brand for free.
How to Merge The Two Journeys Into One
Align your branding to smooth out the transition (Image source: Wiki).
With the right strategies, a buyer’s journey will naturally merge into a customer’s journey after the purchase. Here are some tips to facilitate a faster and smoother transition.
Understand The Life Cycle
As you can see, the buyer’s and customer’s journeys aim at different goals, so do not implement customer retention strategies during the buyer’s awareness phase or vice versa.
Instead, you should start with attracting/converting leads (a buyer’s journey) before continuing to build relationships and retain customers (a customer’s journey).
Align Your Branding And Messaging
A consistent, unified experience paves the way for seamless transitions without confusion or frustration on the customers’ part. Hence, you must ensure they receive the same service quality or information process on every communication platform.
StringeeX, one of the most critically acclaimed virtual contact centers, is the go-to option in this regard. Customer data across different communication channels is no longer stored in dispersed places. Agents can now access and monitor them directly via one single StringeeX interface.
Whether the customer is reaching out via phone calls, Facebook messages, or the website’s chat log, agents can respond to them straight from StringeeX. There is no longer the need to switch constantly between different platforms, saving a lot of time while ensuring a more unified customer experience.
Establish Smooth Handoffs
Another smart strategy is to actively implement instructions for the transition phase between decision-making (buyer’s journey) and onboarding (customer’s journey).
One example is a warm welcome email that outlines all the next steps. New customers will feel a sense of belonging in your community instantly.
Personalize Customer’s Experience
The data you have gathered in the buyer’s journey can be leveraged for the customer’s journey. With a clear, comprehensive understanding of customers’ preferences, needs, and behavior patterns (observed during their purchases), you can develop a better, more satisfying post-sales experience.
Last but not least, do not forget to gather feedback continuously during both these journeys to gauge what is working and what is not.
Do not leave any journey behind during this assessment since they are closely interconnected. An unsatisfied buyer (buyer’s journey) is unlikely to become a long-term customer (customer’s journey). Likewise, customers experiencing less-than-stellar interactions with the support team might not make repeat purchases in the future.
What is the difference between the buyer’s journey and customer journey? The buyer’s journey mostly focuses on sales conversion, while a customer’s journey extends its goal beyond customers’ purchase decisions to seek long-term customer loyalty.
Remembering and understanding this key difference is important to outline a better, more effective marketing campaign for each stage. Write to us if you need more advice.