Last month we looked at the client journey—the complete experience a dog lover has with your business, from first exposure (entry points) through learning all about what you do (marketing and information-gathering “rest stops”) to becoming a client (purchase points) and then their time with you as a client or student (their client experience).
Not all potential clients make it to a purchase point. Some just aren’t the right fit. But too often potential clients simply get lost along the journey you’ve laid out. This is a loss not just for your business, but for the dog lover and the dog, too.
To ensure smooth traveling along your client journey, avoid these marketing “rest stop” mistakes:
As R+ dog pros we’re leery of overpromising in our marketing. We’re careful not to come off pushy or salesy. These are good and ethical business practices, but they can be taken too far.
You don’t need to be loud, pushy, or tacky to be effective in getting clients. But you do need a marketing message that communicates why dog lovers should choose you and how you can help make life with their dog better. You do need a call-to-action (or CTA) encouraging them to take the next step, whether that be to register for class, reach out for a consult, or visit your website to learn more.
It’s your job to guide your potential clients along the journey to becoming actual ones. If you’re too shy about doing so you’ll lose them along the way.
The directions you provide along your client journey must be clear and easy to follow. This includes a strong, effective marketing message aimed carefully at your ideal clients, one that convinces them to stay and begin their journey.
The next step is making navigation along the journey simple. Take a look at your website—is it easy for a first-time visitor to find their way to your service page(s)? If you offer choices, are those choices clear and easy to pick between? For example, say you provide multiple services like walking, training, and sitting. Can I quickly find my way to a separate page with details about the one I need, without having to scroll through information about the others? Or if you specialize in all things puppy training, is there an at-a-glance summary of some kind helping me to understand the difference between, say, classes, private training, and done-for-me daycare-and-train, plus an easy way to learn more about the option I’m interested in?
Tip: Too many choices often lead to making no choice. Decision paralysis is a primary reason potential clients quit a journey before reaching a purchase point. Narrowing your offerings often increases conversions—and it can make running your business easier, too!
Dead ends are just that—a spot of no return where potential clients’ journeys stall. Most dead ends are a failure to provide the next step, usually access to a purchase point. This happens more often than you’d think.
Take a hard look at your website. Better yet, ask a friend to help. Give them a task, like registering for your basic manners class or scheduling a reactive rover consult or dog walking meet and greet. Don’t tell them how to do it—just ask them to go on your site and try. You’re looking to make sure the journey arrives smoothly at a purchase point. You’re checking for missing CTAs, sign up buttons, or contact information that bring the journey to a halt.
Give your marketing materials the same hard look—everything from your social media to your print pieces. Is it obvious how and where to get more information or take the next step?
Empty Gas Tank
We live in a busy world. Potential clients are adding looking for a dog pro to already full plates. Don’t let them run out of gas while checking you out.
The most common spot for potential clients to end up stranded on the side of the road is on your website. Take another good look to be sure you’re answering all the central questions a dog lover might want answered before reaching out—and make sure those answers are easy to find. If you make it too hard to get the answers they need potential clients can run out of energy for you and turn elsewhere.
These are the key questions your website should answer:
Who? Who are you and what makes you qualified? Who is this service for?
What? What is the service? How does it work? What does it cost?
When? When does it happen? What days and times? How soon can I start?
Where? Your place or mine for training? Where do you take dogs on walks? Where is your daycare or boarding or training facility located?
Why? Why should I? How will this service help me? How will it make my life with my dog easier or better?
How much? This is such an important question to answer that we’ve included it twice. Fail to answer this question and you are without doubt losing potential clients before they reach a purchase point. (Yes, we mean you should list your rates on your website. Here’s why.)
You can also lose clients right at the point of purchase. Don’t assume your job is done when someone decides you may be the dog pro for them. Help potential clients travel smoothly through your purchase points by removing barriers between their decision to take action and their ability to do so.
Dog pros have a bit of a reputation for poor customer service. Don’t let that include you. You don’t have to pick up the phone every time it rings or become a slave to your email inbox. But you do have to get back to people in a timely manner so they don’t give up and turn elsewhere.
Use outgoing messages and email autoreplies to give potential clients the peace of mind of knowing when they’ll hear back from you. Wherever appropriate, set your website up to allow potential clients to become actual ones as soon as they’ve made the decision. Class registration and payment is the most obvious example here. Allowing dog lovers to book a consult or a short screening call (perhaps after guiding them through a short online self-screening process) is another way to move them smoothly into the purchase portion of their journey with you—while saving you time as well.
Not every dog lover will be the right fit for your business, but it’s a shame to lose those who are. Make it easy for people to navigate their way toward you by laying out a smooth client journey with no unintended off-ramps.