Finally created a stellar product (course, membership, or a lecture) that you can’t wait to put up for sale? Attaboy!

Now what? How do you attract customers to buy it? Where do you even begin? Surely, word of mouth ain’t enough.

As a serious educator, creating a well-placed purchase journey of your ideal customer is the absolute first thing you need to do. In simpler words, you need to first define who your customer is, find where they hang out, reach out to them, and get them interested in your course.

And, a detailed customer journey map will help you in that. It’ll provide you just the starting point you need to attract, enroll, and retain students in your course.

What’s more, creating a customer journey map will also allow you to optimize every interaction customers have with your course to provide a superior experience.

In fact, as per the CX consulting firm Walker, customer experience is considered to be the key brand differentiator, when compared to other important factors such as price and product quality.

Without a customer journey, it is nearly impossible to take control of your course sales. As per a report by NNCP, nearly 70% of companies use customer/user journey mapping. After all, it gives you a deep understanding of your audience!

As a result, you are able to create compelling content for every stage of the customer’s journey, and direct your marketing efforts appropriately. 

Creating a customer journey map ensures that every customer is accounted for, regardless of whether they use email, social media, or live chat to interact with you. 

However, it is no easy feat making a stranger feel understood and uniquely accounted for. So, how can you pull it off? In this article, we’ll understand the different stages in a customer journey and learn how to create a customer persona and their journey map.

What is a customer journey?

The idea behind creating a customer journey map is simple: it is to take a walk in your customers’ shoes so as to understand the steps customers go through while interacting with your products or services.

A customer journey is indicative of a very specific physical experience, retail or online, that customers have.

Therefore, the customer journey may vary in terms of complexity and difference in unique touchpoints and decision-making actions, both of which are based on an individual’s unique experiences. 

Let’s assume you are offering an online photography course for beginners. 

The common customer journey begins with awareness. A customer interested in pursuing a photography course might begin with watching an ad for your product on TV or the internet.

A couple of days later, they see a Facebook post advertising a new blog post written by you. They go through your blog and their interest is piqued. So, they subscribe to your newsletter.

The following month, after careful consideration by reading reviews, taking suggestions from community forums, and checking out a preview of your course, they make the decision to buy your course.

They meant it to be a trial run, but they become appreciative of the continuous support and assistance from you, the personalized discounts, surprise bonuses, invites to helpful webinars and workshops, etc — all of which pave the way for loyalty to your brand, thereby ensuring customer retention.

Each one of these touch points and the countless others that follow play an important part in the customer’s journey. At each stage, different teams are involved to address a customer’s pain point, which is why a deep understanding of the customer journey is necessary. 

Here’s why a creating a customer journey important for your coaching business:

  • Superior customer experience: A customer journey equips you with the perspective of your customers. This, in turn, helps you curate a personalized buying experience from start to finish.
  • Customer retention: When companies prioritize providing a meaningful experience to customers, they make customers feel seen and heard. This mutual bonding paves way for brand loyalty and customer retention.
  • Greater engagement: Customers also feel more inclined to engage and bond with a brand’s products. They’ll follow updates on your social media platforms, respond to your emails, and recommend you to their friends. 
  • Proactive assistance: With a customer journey map, you are well-positioned to take stock of every touch point and optimize them for a personalized, meaningful experience. You are able to provide proactive resolutions to issues at different stages.
  • Better marketing strategies: It helps you meaningfully align your organizational structure to customer experience and develop more effective marketing strategies overall. 

All this is only possible through research and deep understanding of the customer journey. And, that is best done by asking them directly. We’ll come to that later in this article.

Stages in a Customer Journey

With meticulous attention to your customers and their behavior, online instructors can determine the different stages a potential customer goes through before they finally make a purchase. You can then leverage this data to communicate with them and nudge them in the right direction. 

If you are an online instructor, here’s understanding your customer’s purchase experience at different stages in the customer journey:

Stage 1: Awareness

At this stage, an individual is aware of the problem at hand or an opportunity they are interested in pursuing. However, they are looking for information to understand it more deeply.

They are usually motivated by a desire to increase their earning potential, get ahead of their peers, and enhance their lifestyle. Despite being thrilled by the idea of venturing into a new stream, they are also wary of failing. 

Challenges faced at this stage are basically centered around the large amount of information, or lack thereof, available to educate oneself in order to take an informed decision. Many people also have difficulty interpreting information since they don’t have enough knowledge of the field they seek to gain expertise in. Most also struggle with limited time to dedicate to deep-diving.

So, how can you use this to your benefit?

An in-depth understanding of your customers in the awareness stage can help you determine where your customers will find you. This will help you anticipate their future needs better and provide proactive customer assistance.

Whether it is through blogs, events, or ads, you can create compelling content for every touch point to address their pain points and help drive motivations.

Pro tip: Use time-based automations that allow you to make recommendations depending on the information they are looking for.

Stage 2: Consideration

Here, the individual has a clear understanding of the problem or opportunity and is actively researching options to tackle the problem. They might read reviews, consult family or friends, and try out demo products wherever available. 

Usually, they are met with inadequacy with respect to information and assistance. Products they are interested in might not have testimonials and they may have difficulty in making comparisons, which could result in choosing the wrong solution (something they are fearful of btw!).

Check out how mcaffeine, a caffeine-based beauty products seller, guides customers they know are in the consideration stage.

The point being, since your audience is already out there processing available options with curiosity and confusion (since they lack knowledge), you can make sure your course stands out by volunteering information and guiding them.

Some factors to concentrate on are:

  • A user-friendly experience
  • Ease in getting started with you
  • An affordable price point
  • Trustworthiness through reviews and testimonials

Stage 3: Decision

Understandably, the individual is concluding the results of their research and making a decision regarding the final purchase of your course.

Take cue from Amazon that aims to provide customer-focused moments at every stage of the journey. Ever notice how they prompt you to complete your purchase if they find you’ve abandoned your cart?

However, there may be several reasons preventing a customer from deciding in your favor:

  • Negative reviews on your course
  • Incorrect information on website that points towards unreliability
  • High price of your training
  • Lack of assistance
  • SEO flaws on your website
  • Too many competitor courses confusing them

In the decision stage, the customer has high expectations from his trial experience and hopes to be rewarded for his “let’s-give-it-a-go” mindset. The right decision will make them feel happy about taking the final step and leave them anticipating the future outcomes.

So, if a brand fails to recognize and merit these emotions at the decision stage, they are likely to lose the customer. 

Stage 4: Retention

Here comes the most tricky of all stages. You’ve managed to enroll them for your course, but retaining customers is a whole other world. They are looking for quick results through the knowledge they’ve received in your course, and overall satisfaction.

Did you know, nearly 33% of customers consider changing brands if they’ve had even one poor experience.

A personalized and supportive experience will foster loyalty to your brand. Use personalized automated emails, bonuses, regular invites to training sessions, and workshops to ensure they continue with your training, and even look forward to new ones.

Check out how the clothing brand H&M greets their members with a welcome offer, ensuring customers feel valued and cared for.

However, there’s a good chance that customers will discontinue purchase of your product/service for miscellaneous reasons (poor experience, lack of support, etc). In such cases, you should analyze and document the factors that led them to stop purchasing from you. This will help improve your journey map and avoid mishaps such as those in future.

Take a look at this customer research survey by Myntra.

Creating a Customer Persona

How do you find your ideal customer type? You research them, of course! The knowledge you receive and jot down about them will help you develop a customer persona that you can then map to your customer journey map.

The objective of creating a customer persona is to understand what your customers’ daily struggles include and what influences their purchase behavior. This will help you create a customer journey map that aligns with your audience’s needs and goals, and guide them in the right direction.

Let us give you a walkthrough of how we created a customer persona for educators who are most likely to purchase a subscription for our platform:

An enormous amount of research went into creating the profile of our ideal customer who we call “Educator Eric“. For us, Eric is the perfect fit to use our platform to build his online coaching business.

We jotted down everything; from describing his profile and listing down his challenges and motivations to where he hangs out on social media and what technological mode of communications he prefers.

This gave us a clear idea of where to reach him, how to develop a marketing strategy around him, and how to provide the exact solution that could solve his problem of not being able to get started in the world of online teaching.

You’ve got to do the same! Here are the steps for it:

Step 1: Define a customer type

First, segment your audience based on the different types of customers your course targets. Your customer persona will be based on these segments which include age demographics, behavioural traits, daily activities, interests, and so on. 

For example, an e-commerce clothing brand for women would have women as its target audience. Segmentation will further be based on age groups, activities, etc.

Similarly, for someone selling an online course, age demographics and education levels can be two broad categories to base your customer persona on. Further segments would include their personality, desires and goals, motivations, frequently-used technology and communication channels, etc.

Step 2: Research on them

Possibly the most important step in the process is identifying the problems and challenges customers face in their purchase journey. While some may struggle with technology, others may be bound by financial constraints. One helpful source of insight could be your customer service team, if you have one. Find out what queries are most frequently directed to them.

You must account their motivations, barriers, and activities at every stage of the process to address potential roadblocks. 

Also factor in logic and emotions that influence decision making. For instance, it’s natural to feel anxious if your pocket is about to get a little lighter. Some people feel intimidated by technology, while others are fearful of failing in their new venture. 

This causes most people to second-guess their goals and sometimes even prevent them from pursuing an opportunity.

Eric, for instance, lacks technical and design knowledge. He is reasonably content with offline modes of communication but at the same time is frustrated with lack of money and recognition, and feels insecure about his peer’s success.

This makes our platform a perfect fit for him because we take all the tech hassles off our customers’ hands, and let them focus on what they do best – create trainings!

Having a clear picture of the range of emotions that customers go through, their frustrations, motivations, etc give you an accurate idea of their experience. They help you create strategies to address these barriers and pain points, and help problem-solvers such as Eric feel confident about pursuing their goals.

Step 3: Find places where they hang out

List the different touchpoints through which a prospective customer comes to interact with your course. From social media, online forums/communities, search engines, your website, third-party websites, etc to influencer marketing, TV, ads, Facebook/YouTube/Instagram ads, and on, every touchpoint should be accounted for.

Eric mostly uses WhatsApp, email, and social media platforms, so any form of marketing we do is most likely to be centered around these channels.

Step 4: Talk to them about their struggles

Understanding the purchase experience from a customer’s perspective is extremely valuable. You are looking to gain insight into their journey, with a focus on the touch points where interactions are concerned. This is not just confined to your company but also your competitors.

Therefore, if you are looking to get into your customer’s mind, talk to them to understand their needs and goals, and document their experiences as they describe it.

A research by Salesforce revealed that nearly 84% of people make positive purchase decisions if they are treated like a real person rather than a number.

Some insightful questions to ask are:

  • Where did you hear about this course?
  • What problems are you looking to solve? 
  • What made you decide to enroll for this course?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how was your experience using our website?
  • Have you sought customer support? If so, did you receive a resolution?

Step 5: Determine if your course is exactly what they need to solve a problem

Based on the knowledge gained from your research, find out if your course can actually solve their problem. Here are key questions to ask:

  • Can your course help your audience achieve their goals and objectives? If so, how?
  • What are the main challenges faced by your target audience? Does your solution address those pain points?

What Eric needs is someone to help him start an online coaching business. By scaling his skill across online platforms, he will be able to increase his student base, build an online presence, a brand identity, and earn more money as well as recognition.

So, we did exactly that! We communicated to many prospective Erics, and asked them about what it is that was stopping them until now to build their online coaching program.

The insights we received were added straight to our customer journey map.

How to build your Own Customer Journey Map

Take a look at our customer journey map for Eric. From hearing about our platform online and comparing with other platforms, right up till purchasing a subscription, this map lays down a detailed account of his activities, motivations, emotions, barriers, and our touch points with him.

The information under each of these stages helps us understand Eric as a buyer, so that we can design high-performing marketing campaigns to reach more and more Erics and provide our platform as the ultimate solution to them.

While this example works perfectly to our platform’s advantage, your product is an online course. So, naturally, you need your own customer journey map that leads your prospect straight to your course.

Here are the steps to get started on it:

Step 1: Create a customer persona

Already discussed above, yeah? A buyer/customer persona that contains qualitative and quantitative data on your ideal customer is key to creating an authentic customer journey map.

Give that customer a cool, unique name like to differentiate them from other personas you create later in your selling journey.

Step 2: Break down their buying journey into phases

As you know by now, a customer journey comprises four stages: awareness, consideration, decision, and retention. Depending on where your audience is in their buying journey, you can appropriate your marketing efforts towards addressing their challenges and pain points efficiently. 

Speak with potential students to get insight into their purchase process, and break it down into the different stages. You should have a clear idea of whether they are researching available options, checking out reviews, or are ready to buy a course.

Step 3: Fill out information based on research

Summarize your findings in the form of a customer journey plan and use it to assist your customer in their buying journey.

To conclude…

Customer experience is currently the key element that helps companies stay ahead of the curve. It promotes brand loyalty and customer retention like no other marketing strategy can. 

According to Ann Lewnes, EVP and CMO of Adobe: “The term ‘customer experience’ won’t exist in the organization of the future. It will be so deeply entrenched in a company’s product, process, and culture that it will be synonymous with the brand and represent the only way to do business.”

The whole point of creating a customer journey map is to enable you to optimise every touchpoint in their purchase journey and provide a stellar customer experience. It’s a necessary strategy that has long-term impacts on your business if carried out the right way. 

So, get started on your customer journey maps to take your coaching business to the next level.