The “customer journey” is a predictable path but it’s often overlooked by companies that think effective selling is about nothing more than closing. It can also be misunderstood.
Any online search of the customer journey yields varied results about its amount of steps and overall duration. In my opinion, the journey begins when homeowners become aware of a need. And it doesn’t end when the work is completed. The customer journey includes steady follow-up for months and years to come.
Everything you do – or don’t do – as homeowners move down the path has an impact. If you’re not systematic and deliberate, you’ll lose the opportunity to win new customers and the dollars they bring.
I believe there are five steps in the customer journey. Here are some insights into each and how they relate to home improvement.
Step 1. Awareness.
This is when a homeowner notices a problem: Water in the basement. Overflowing gutters. Damaged siding.
They may not know the cause and they aren’t yet searching for companies that can help. But, if you’ve been staying visible, they may already be aware of you.
Perhaps they’ve seen your TV ads. Maybe they’ve chatted with you at a home show. If that’s the case, great! You’re a step ahead.
Today, more and more companies are turning to online advertising to generate awareness – it’s not just for getting clicks. You can purchase display ads through any number of media companies (Facebook, Gmail Ads, Google Display Network, etc.). These target based on location, income, age and more. That keeps you top of mind with future customers.
At this early stage, keywords should be general. They need to match the broad, “help me understand my problem” mindset of homeowners.
Step 2. Issue Identification.
Awareness moves to issue identification when a homeowner pinpoints a cause: “The water in my basement is due to a leak in the foundation.”
Now, they are trying to understand the problem better. A clearly written case study, a simple troubleshooting document, or an instructional video on your website can bring people to you as they search for answers. They will learn more about you and your services as a result.
Unfortunately, this type of educational content tends to be lacking among home improvement companies. Many are focused exclusively on the sale and under staff their marketing departments.
But winning at this early stage is critical. It builds trust, name recognition and more – critical elements that go into making the sale happen down the line.
Step 3. Research and Reputation.
Now, the homeowner is exploring companies to hire. The searches get more specific (e.g., “Basement waterproofing near me”) and reputation matters a great deal. Consider that 84% of homeowners trust an online review as much as a referral. And among the 18-34 demographic, that number rises above 90%.
This is also where the most compelling and unique aspects of your business need to be highlighted. Warranties, years in business, family-owned operations, roots in the local community, etc., all play a role in winning trust.
Your association with trusted brands matters, too. Include these brands and their recognized logos in your marketing whenever you can, to boost your own reputation.
Step 4. Decision.
The decision step is where you take the check to the bank. In order to do that you need to turn that prospect into a customer.
Most of the time, this step begins with an online conversion. That happens through a thorough understanding and application of paid search fundamentals: compelling ads, power words, optimizing for exact phrases, site speed, offer strength, language consistency, and much more.
Here’s something else to consider and, in my opinion, an action you should take moving forward: Tell the prospect what happens next:
“Fill out the web form and we will respond within four hours to talk about your project and set up a no obligation sales appointment at your convenience.”
This helps the homeowner move down the sales funnel with trust and confidence. It builds momentum, removes perceived risk, and makes it easy to say yes.
It also filters out those who won’t like your process and who don’t move forward as a result. This saves everyone time and effort!
Step 5. Advocacy.
Successful home improvement companies understand the value of passionate, vocal fans. Indeed, leads generated by these homeowners are nearly free. Compare that to the industry average cost-per-lead of $400 across all categories and it’s clear that these advocates are worth pursuing.
But it doesn’t just happen. This type of enthusiastic word of mouth is the result of a systematic commitment inside the company to make sure satisfied homeowners are encouraged and rewarded.
That means online reviews, refer-a-friend programs, periodic check-ins, neighborhood events, and more. And it means staying in touch with past customers, months – and years – into the future.
You’ve done the hard work of acquiring and servicing customers. Now reap the benefits that their recommendations can bring.
Effective Selling Is More Than Just Closing
When it comes to winning the customer journey, most home improvement companies start too late and end too soon.
Every exposure to and interaction with a homeowner has the power to deepen confidence, raise credibility, and build trust. All the things you want on the journey from awareness to happy customer!