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How to Win Potential Consumers with Customer Journey Mapping on Google

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How to Win Potential Consumers with Customer Journey Mapping on Google


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

If your website is like most others, there is likely a mismatch between the content you provide, and what your prospective customers search for on Google.

This article is about understanding your potential customers and their conversation with Google by using the customer journey mapping method to provide them with the best content. The idea came to me when watching internal user experience teams at our agency, and I hope it will inspire you as an SEO to leave your spreadsheets for a moment and start working with sticky notes (yeah, sticky notes).

Later in the article, as an example of the method, I will show you how a Danish insurance firm managed to come out of nowhere and dominate the conversation for a strategically important insurance product.

I have built +100 customer journey maps over the last year, so I am excited to share my knowledge with you.

I will come back to this later, but let’s get a few definitions in place first:

What is a customer journey?

The customer journey is a model, which describes the stages a prospective customer goes through in order to convert to your solution. It is a way for us as marketers to understand what challenges a user confronts during their journey. When we understand it, we know how our marketing efforts should show up at every stage.

There are many different customer journey models, but I prefer the classic AIDA model, adding the Loyalty stage at the end.

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Here is a description of the five stages with examples of typical Google queries:

Awareness: The prospects realize that they have a problem or desire and actively start searching on Google. For example, they may think, “Hey, I’m coughing. How do I get rid of it?” and search for “How to stop coughing?” (40K monthly queries in the US).

Interest: The prospects start searching for simple solution queries. An example is “cough medicine” (59K monthly queries). In this stage, they will also look for substitutes (e.g. “honey ginger tea”).

Desire: The prospects become more educated and refine their search to find the right solution for them. They search for different attributes of the product such as segments (“infant cough medicine”) and types (“non drowsy cough medicine”). This is also the customer journey stage where users subsequently get into the buying mode with best/cheapest/discount queries (e.g. “best coughing medicine for dry cough”). They also begin to search for brands. Typical queries on Google could be “Delsym cough medicine” (5.2K monthly queries) and comparison queries, like “Delsym vs Robitussin” (1.6K monthly queries).

Action: The prospects have made their choice and are ready to take action. A typical search would be “Delsym near me” (90 monthly queries).

Loyalty: The prospects have turned into clients and could have questions about the newly purchased product. A typical example could be “Delsym side effects”.

What is customer journey mapping on Google?

Customer journey mapping is a traditional exercise when working with user experience (UX), trying to visualize the typical touchpoints for a user and thereby understand how to create a frictionless experience.

As I mentioned in the intro, I had a light bulb moment watching our UX teams. Why couldn’t SEOs adopt this practice and map up the customer journey with Google data? Where UX teams use qualitative interviews, eye tracking, client feedback and gut feeling, Google data is the hard data that’s missing.

The idea of doing customer journey mapping on Google was born.

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We have the data right at our feet. With Google’s own data sources (e.g. Google Search Console) and third party tools (e.g. Moz Keyword Explorer), SEOs can map out a large part of the customer journey.

Just look at your user data in Google Analytics, and you will see how dominant Google is. According to a study by GrowthBadger, across industries 50-90% of all traffic came from Google. While social media is a great activation channel in 2022, prospects still go to Google when they need to educate themselves before they contact you.

By mapping the entire customer journey on Google we understand:

  1. What are the major topics that potential clients are querying on Google?

  2. What is the search intent behind the conversation potential clients are having with Google, that might match our USPs?

  3. Where are the “peak ends”, meaning the most important conversation touchpoints on Google, that can win or lose a future customer?

  4. What is the timeline of search intent, so we understand how to prioritize content development?

Why you should use customer journey mapping on Google

There are three main arguments for why you should use customer journey mapping.

1) Targeting specific keywords is outdated. We need to focus on owning user intent instead.

Especially with Google’s introduction of BERT in September 2019, they understand searches better than ever. And with their MUM update, the search experience will become even more impressive. This also means that we, the SEOs, have to adapt to these advances, focus less on targeting specific keywords, and instead focus on the user intent.

To give an example, all the keywords below have the same intent and should be seen as one:

The total monthly search volume for this search intent is 4,000 monthly queries in the US, so this is a big touchpoint to overlook in your content, if you sell sleeping bags.

2) We need to share SEO data insights with marketing teams – and do it fast.

It should be our aim to break out of the SEO silo and ensure that SEO supports marketing strategies and activities.

People in your marketing department may not even know that Google Search Console exists, and even fewer may have access, so SEOs need to share the insights from this goldmine of data.

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SEO silo analysis can take weeks, but when aligning with the rest of the company, speed is crucial. Decisions in marketing are made on a daily basis, so SEOs need to be able to provide data quickly. A customer journey map can be created inside a few hours, and is a great way to visualize data in ways that any non-SEO can understand.

3) Topic clustering doesn’t give you the full picture.

Are you already working with topic clustering and think that customer journey mapping sounds like the same? It’s not.

A normal topic cluster only covers the Interest/Desire stages in the customer journey. A topic cluster consists of the main page (the money page), which ranks for the most important keyword (e.g. “car insurance”) and various supporting pages (pillar pages), which will rank for secondary keywords (e.g. “car insurance for teens” and “car insurance calculator”).

Customer journey mapping covers the full customer journey including the early part of the funnel and the post-sales stage. These two stages are important to pay attention to, in order to be seen as a topical authority by Google, and of course to help your prospective consumer along their entire journey.

Early-funnel

Studies have shown that helping a user early in the process will make them remember you later on. At an early stage of the journey, the prospect is not yet aware of the solution, so they will do symptom queries. This type of query isn’t so easy to identify, but this also means that your competitors are probably missing out on them. This can be a great opportunity for extra traffic.

To research symptom queries you need to think like your prospect. What would they search for when they aren’t sure what they’re looking for? A way to validate if the symptom queries are relevant for you, check in “Related searches” at the bottom of page one on Google, if any solution queries are listed. It is an indicator, if it is a relevant query or not.

Another important aspect is to educate the prospect so they won’t choose the wrong solution. In my last Moz Blog post on SEO sprints, I showed an example of prospects searching for yellow-tinted glasses for driving at night. This is the wrong solution, because opposing cars have blue lights. This is important content to provide your audience, in order to lead prospects in the right direction. What is a misconception in your industry?

Post-sale

The post-sale queries are very valuable, because these are queries done by actual clients. This is not only about helping them out with their actual problem, but it is also an important touchpoint to warm them up for their next conversion.

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If you want to identify post-sale queries quickly, then use this regex formula in your Google Search Console:

b(clean|broken|wash off|shattered|polish|problem|treat|doesn’t work|replace|doesn’t start|scratch|repair|manual|fix|protect|renew|coverage|warranty)[” “]

If you do not rank well for the queries that show up, then you most likely have a content gap.

Not all of your content will convert directly. Some content is more apt for micro conversions (see a video, read another piece of content, download pdf). With customer journey mapping, you’re forced to place the search intent in order of appearance. This will help you understand how to structure your content and what a piece of content should do.

How to build a customer journey map using Google data

Let me walk you through the process.

Step 1 : Define your persona and your objective

What do we want to obtain, and who is our persona/s? This important first step ensures that we create the scope for the mapping.

Step 2 : Get the data and map out the intents

Next up is to map out the user intent. I will initially use the client’s Google Search Console.

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I will filter 12 months of data for a specific keyword. I will then go through my keyword list. In this example I am doing a map for “Natural playgrounds”. One intent is “natural playground equipment”. I have marked three queries below, which have the same intent: Natural playground equipment, Nature playground equipment and Nature play equipment.

This is one intent identified. Usually, I write the intent on a sticky note with the search volume and the average ranking. Here is an example below from a session.

When I am not able to find more intents in Google Search Console I will add data from third party tools such as Moz Explorer. Here I have inserted the keyword “Natural playground” in the suggestion box, and a list of relevant keywords appear.

Step 3 : Map the post-its in a funnel

I then draw up a sales funnel on a whiteboard, where I place the sticky notes. I will move them around and cluster them, where it makes sense. I will eventually revisit my tools to get more data, if I see gaps in the funnel. This should be a quick process. This is how my whiteboard ends up looking:

When I have completed this exercise I have a great understanding of the prospects’ conversation with Google. The next step is to insert the intents in PowerPoint, so it can be presented to the client. Here is an example. The traffic lights show how the site performs (Green = Rank 1-3 in Google. Yellow = Rest of page 1. Red = Page 2 or worse.). The size of the bubbles represent the search volume.

When a map like this is presented, it will naturally kick-start a focus on how we can convert all the intents to green.

How a Danish insurance firm won prospects with customer journey mapping

Købstædernes Forsikring is one of the oldest insurance firms in Denmark, established in 1731. Historically, they have not focused on SEO, so when I started helping them, they had very little non-branded presence on Google.

Step 1 – We want to own the conversation on Google for “salary insurance”

“Salary insurance” is a product offered by all the insurance industry players. If you lose your job, then with this insurance, you can cover 90% of your salary. This is a strategically important product for Købstædernes, and Google is a big touchpoint in their prospects’ customer journey.

Step 2 – Let’s get the data for “salary insurance” and create a customer journey map

To get an understanding of potential customer search intent, we created the following customer journey map. Each bubble represents a search intent. The size of the bubble shows the relative search volume and the color represents their average ranking. I use traffic light colors to visualize this (Green: ranks in top 3, Yellow: Rank 4-10, Red: Outside page 1 on Google).

To map out the conversation with Google, I used their Google Search Console data, supported with third party tools such as Moz Keyword Explorer. Furthermore, I held an interview with the product team to understand the potential client profiles better, so I could identify the initial symptom searches.

Since the marketing team at Købstædernes are not SEO savvy, then a customer journey map was a great way to explain that we were not part of the conversation at all. They immediately grasped our starting point, and could help by identifying the interesting conversations we should be part of. Furthermore, they could take the conversation insights and use them in the rest of their marketing mix.

Step 3 – Executing on the insights from the customer journey map

When the marketing team signed off on the journey map, we moved on to the second part, which was to understand what content to build, repurpose, and optimize. To be able to match topics between prospects’ conversation with Google and the content on the website, we needed to optimize 10 pages and create five new pages.

As with most organizations, Købstædernes does not have unlimited resources. Thus, the customer journey map was a great asset to understand how to prioritize their efforts. Content in the lower funnel should be produced first.

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Over a period of two months, my small team managed to perform these tasks. While it is not the topic of this article I would like to mention that a project management tool such as Asana, Monday.com, Trello or other is necessary to ensure an efficient process. If you use a spreadsheet (Excel, Google Sheets or other) focus on tasks can easily be forgotten. With a project management tool you can assign tasks, set deadlines, describe tasks and sub tasks, insert tags etc. I see it time and time again that when key employees leave a SEO project is put on hold. I would therefore strongly urge you to use one of these tools to avoid brain drain and focus.

The results after 10 months

Here is the development after 10 months. As you can see, we have managed to own a big chunk of the conversation:

Traffic has gradually increased, with 100% growth for the last three months compared to the prior period.

In summary

Google is by far the biggest touchpoint in most customer journeys across industries, so it is obvious that hard data from Google Search Console and third-party tools such as Moz Keyword Explorer can help us understand user intent. Customer journey mapping on Google is a model to enable the data by visualizing it, ensuring that the full marketing team understands the prospects’ conversation with Google.

At the same time, it gives a clear overview of content prioritization, which is an important point, since most teams have limited resources.

Let me end with a few tips about customer journey maps:

  1. Make sure you have a clear goal with your customer journey. If there is more than one goal, break the customer journey into several different customer journey maps.

  2. Understand your USPs to focus on the relevant search intent. If necessary, break down the broader user intents into smaller ones on underlying customer journey maps, to get a better overview.

I hope this blog post about customer journey mapping has inspired you to think about how you can understand your prospects’ conversation with Google in a new way. Happy mapping!



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MARKETING

8 Best Tactics to Lead a Team with Zero Experience

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8 Best Tactics to Lead a Team with Zero Experience

‘How to lead a team?’

This is a burning question for team leads, especially first-time managers.

The ultimate purpose of team leads is to encourage and help their team deliver peak performance while nurturing their skills. They need to establish clear expectations and supervise their team to achieve business goals efficiently.

However, developing effective leadership skills requires considerable experience. To lead a team with zero experience can be thus daunting and overwhelming.

If you are a first-time manager, you should embark on your journey by understanding your role and responsibilities. Taking small yet thoughtful steps will help you develop essential leadership skills.

In this post, we will share the eight best tactics that will help you lead a team with zero experience.

Key Tips to Lead a Team with No Experience

Here’s the comprehensive list of best tips and practices to help you lead a team successfully.

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#1: Admit Experience Limitations to Your Team

Helen Hayes once quoted –

“The expert at anything was once a beginner.”

These words accurately describe the fact that one cannot earn expertise overnight. It takes determination, time, and hard work to sail through the process.

So, if you want your team to thrive, you need to be honest with your team. Don’t conceal the fact that you lack leadership experience. Admitting experience limitations to your team will make them considerate of your situation. This will create a bond of understanding between you and your teammates.

Here are a few tips that’ll help you overcome your experience limitations.

  • Stay Focused: Unless you understand the client’s requirements, you won’t be able to guide your team. So, keep a sharp focus on everyday tasks.
  • Be Proactive: Participate actively in all the tasks to keep your team engaged and motivated.
  • Embrace Humility: Be open to listening to your team’s perspective. Embracing different viewpoints will help you deal with tricky situations with ease.

#2: Have the Confidence to Lead a Team

According to Gallup, managers that lead a team successfully have the following traits.

  • Ability to motivate and engage their team
  • Assertiveness to drive outcomes
  • Confidence to overcome adversity
  • Ability to build transparent relationships

Out of these traits, confidence is the most pivotal.

The reason? A leader’s confidence impacts their team’s confidence.

While it’s true that you lack experience, it doesn’t mean you can’t lead a team and make it big.

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Don’t let your experience impact your confidence.

Develop a constructive mindset to empower your team. Focus on improving your problem-solving skills and get involved with your team in the projects. Understand your teammates’ strengths and weaknesses to gauge their potential, thereby delegating tasks to the right people.

Show your human side and stay honest about everything to be approachable. If you commit a mistake, accept it openly in front of everyone. This will make your teammates comfortable working with you.

The key is to lead by example. This will help you stay confident and increase your chances of achieving desired business outcomes.

#3: Create Open Door Communication Policy

An open-door policy signifies a set of protocols encouraging employees to discuss their queries, challenges, or suggestions with their senior-level managers.

Since communication is a key to building efficient teams, an open-door policy can be a game-changer for you. It can help create and maintain a transparent and unbiased work environment by improving the communication between you and your team.

No wonder, leading companies like IBM follow an open-door policy to promote effective communication at the workplace.

Here are a few tips to consider.

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  • Communicate Expectations: Create a brief outline stating the communication rules. Further, educate your team about how it works and its benefits.
  • Set Boundaries: Providing a solid communication ground to your team is good, but without boundaries, it can lead to the loss of valuable time.

For instance, you can allow your employees to walk in the cabin at any instant. If this doesn’t seem feasible, you can standardize the process. Ask your team to book an appointment for the discussion.

#4: Reach Out to Experts for Assistance

Dealing with conflicts, doubts, and distractions may seem draining as you progress in your managerial journey.

Take the help of a mentor to cope with tricky situations.

An experienced mentor can help you develop decision-making skills while gaining a new perspective on leading a team. With their guidance, you can move on an upward trajectory and establish yourself as a strong leader.

Here are a few ways to connect to an experienced mentor for guidance.

  • Professional Network: Reach out to people in your professional network with expertise, experience, and industry knowledge.
  • Social Media: Leverage the power of social media channels like LinkedIn, Reddit, and Quora. These platforms have a plentitude of subject matter experts and industry leaders.
  • Comprehensive Platforms: Count on platforms like GrowthMentor and TheMuse to discover the best leaders from your industry.

Pro Tip: Become a part of the About Leaders community, where industry leaders share valuable advice and tips on positive leadership. Reading researched and well-written blog posts shared by experts on About Leaders will help you develop a leader-like mindset, thereby preparing you for success.

Besides, you can enroll in leadership-building courses by About Leaders, trusted by 30,000 international leaders.

#5: Set Clear and Realistic Expectations

Setting clear and realistic expectations for your team reduces the chances of project failure. It helps the team members understand their responsibilities and create a solid strategy to meet the expectations.

Here are a few tips for setting clear expectations.

  • Emphasize Goals: Define actionable objectives for each member. The goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (S.M.A.R.T).
  • Make Employees Accountable: Set milestones according to your team members’ skills and experiences. Set realistic deadlines to ensure successful project completion.
  • Track Your Team’s Progress: Keep a tab on your team’s progress by implementing productivity tracking tools like Trello and Toggl. These project management platforms can help you monitor your team’s performance, thereby boosting the chances of your success.
  • Share Timely and Honest Feedback: According to ClearCompany, daily feedback improves employees’ engagement by 3x. So, try offering feedback at the end of the day or at least in a week to boost team collaboration.  

#6: Provide Resources to Help Your Team

To be a good leader, you should support your team with a well-constructed tech stack. This will not just simplify and streamline their tasks but also increase their trust in you as a leader.  

For instance, if you are leading a team of sales reps, implementing customer relationship management (CRM) software can help your team collect customers’ data. This can boost their work efficiency and help them achieve their goals.

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The key here is to talk to the team and understand their challenges. Based on pain points, offer resources like task automation tools, communication platforms, and CRMs. This will help your team communicate, collaborate, and stay organized and efficient.

Pro Tip: Create a culture of learning and knowledge-sharing by organizing brainstorming sessions. Allow your team to collaborate once a week and discuss innovative ideas. You can even arrange monthly webinars or seminars by inviting guest speakers. This will foster a happy and productive environment, thereby keeping your team motivated.

#7: Ask For Feedback at the End of the Project

As a first-time manager, you should keep learning and improving your leadership skills.

Your team’s feedback on your leadership can help you lead with high effectiveness.

So, ask your team what went right and wrong during the task.

Here are a few crucial questions to consider:

  • In what ways can I improve team communication and time management?
  • Did I do justice to my role?
  • What skills can help me lead a team efficiently?
  • Do you consider me a fair and unbiased leader?
  • Do you trust me for our upcoming projects?

Encourage them to offer honest feedback on your role as a leader. This can help you understand your team’s perspective on your leadership style.

#8: Reward Your Team for a Good Job

Acknowledge and reward your team for a job well done.

This will let your team know their contribution and effort are highly valued and appreciated.

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What’s more? Appreciation can boost their morale and motivate them to perform even better in the future.

Notice the following screenshot of a survey conducted by O. C. Tanner. As you can see, it reveals that employee recognition is the most vital driver of great work.

Here are a few tips to reward your team.

  • Offer Time-Off: Allow your team to take some time off and unwind. This will promote a healthy work culture.
  • Share Thoughtful Gifts: Give small gifts such as chair massages, movie tickets, and more.
  • Offer Non-Monetary Gifts: Rewards don’t need to be monetary always. You can give them a quick shoutout in an email with kind words. This will make them feel valued.

Summing Up

Team management is a challenging task.

Lack of experience can make it further difficult for first-time team leads to justify their role. They need skills, a learning attitude, and patience to develop a good rapport with their teammates.

The shared tips can boost your confidence and help you establish yourself as a trustworthy leader. So, follow these tactics to find your footing as a manager.

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