Online marketing has rapidly matured over the last few years and we now know more about how to engage directly with customers than ever before.

It can be a somewhat cumbersome task, as you need to know where to start and where to get the most benefit out of the time you invest.

A good starting point is to focus on the user journey to see how your customers and potential customers interact with you.

Break down your online strategy into these five areas to make it easy and reach the desired results. 

1. Get visible

If you need to drive traffic to your site, this is where your focus should be. Remember, how your site is built and the content you provide will impact organic search and hence your ability to drive traffic to your site. 

But before you start this, think about whether more traffic is really what you need. E-commerce stores should ideally convert at least 3% of website traffic, otherwise, you need to think about whether you’re wasting money on paid media (search and ads) and not getting the right returns.

If this is the case, it may be more advantageous to work on optimising your site or online content rather than ploughing money into getting more traffic.

Finally, make sure that you have decided what you, as a business should class as a ‘conversion’ – is it a purchase, a registration for a whitepaper, a completed application form or a click-through on an affiliate link? Then you know what to measure against.

2. Get social

Tap into the power of social media, making sure that you allocate enough resources with the right skills. Social media managed in the right way will build trust and loyalty.

In 2011, EPiServer conducted research that showed social media is indeed becoming a bigger priority for companies, with almost three quarters (73%) now running online communities.

The findings show that as many as 69% of UK businesses have appointed or plan to appoint a social media or community manager in the next 12 months. But as social media matures customers now expect you to engage with them on their terms.

Instead of social spamming your followers, make use of available technology to personalise your messages will help to improve the customer experience on social channels. 

3. Get in touch

So, you have succeeded in converting your visitors to customers once, or they have indicated that they are interested in your products. What’s the next step on the user journey?

While traditional purchases involve some choice, today’s customers are presented with an almost bewildering range of different possibilities (and never the same one twice).

With every choice or click customers can either move closer to purchase or further away. So part of your strategy must be to stay in regular touch with the customer whether they’ve purchased or not, in a way that feels relevant and personal.

This is where personalisation plays a crucial role, drawing on relevant interactions that are event-driven rather than broadcast.

4. Get engaged

Regardless of whether your customers first encounter you on your main site, the mobile version, a campaign microsite or on Facebook, they should instantly and unambiguously recognise that it’s you.

Achieving this is about making your content context-aware. This means that, wherever customers find your content, it looks and feels like it belongs there rather than being awkwardly grafted on from somewhere else.

Importantly, this is not about cloning yourself or your content. It is about presenting the customer and serving the right content for the right outlet, whether it is written or multimedia.

5. Get converted

The final but most important step is to make everything as easy as possible for the customer. If you have a commerce site, the checkout is still one of the largest barriers to a sale and is where the highest number of customer drop-offs occur.

Simplicity really is the key here. Only ask for information that you really need. Personalise the user journey along the conversion or sales funnel. Test, try and refine the process, and make sure you can complete it within minutes, not hours, days or weeks! 

Analysing the user journey is the best way to improve your service, as it will show you the route taken by your customers. It is worth investing time in this and making the most of all the information you can gather about the visitors to your website it will pay off.