The 5 Stages of User Journey in Product Management

Product Management
November 8, 2022
6 mins read
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Product journey or user journey in a product is the consumer’s discovery of the product and how they interact with the company and other elements during the purchase cycle. Users come across varied information and factors, which help them in decision-making during their customer journey.

Mapping the user journey in product management is an essential activity. It enables development teams to be user-centric. Product managers keep the knowledge within a company, navigate cross-functional teams, and collaborate with everyone to achieve the ultimate goals of product reach, acquisition, activation, retention/engagement, and loyalty. Product managers are also involved in the creation and sharing of journey maps.

The Five Stages of User Journey in Product Management

When a customer makes the first purchase from your company, they may subscribe to your company newsletter and decide to make a purchase. Subsequently, they may turn into a repeat customer and become a brand advocate over time. It is nothing but the customer lifecycle and the product management process they go through while building a relationship with your company. To remain competitive in the market, it is crucial to manage and maintain the customer lifecycle.

Understanding the customer lifecycle starts by familiarizing yourself with the five stages of the product user journey, which helps your company maximize revenue for potential and existing customers through reach, acquisition, activation, retention/engagement, and loyalty. Let us further discuss each of these in detail.

Stage 1: Reach

Reach is the first stage in a user journey in which the user comes in touch with you and your company. It is also called the “awareness” or “discovery” stage. Further, it can originate from a Facebook ad or even a referral given by a friend.

Hence, your business must market well in places where people may get to know your company’s offerings. It is also critical to have the apt metrics to track the customer touchpoints and check on your marketing efforts. Some product management metrics are the number of website visitors, social analytics, customer reviews, polls, pay-per-click (PPC), AdWords, and data from surveys.

However, at this stage, most people will not convert to customers. You are simply capturing your potential customer’s attention and developing a relationship with them.

Stage 2: Acquisition

After the first stage, when the user has learned about your product, the acquisition period starts, where they decide to try or buy it. The phase happens on email, in person, on the phone, or through a Web page. In this phase, people rarely become customers. A new user might need to sign up first, which involves filling a registration form and email validation.

For products such as enterprise software, acquisition can involve a sales team that pitches the product, a technical implementation team that answers technical questions, and a training team. The stage invokes hope that your website visitors will get converted into subscribers or customers. Thus, you must have a process to guide them toward conversion by helping them to meet their needs.

Note. The customer can also abandon your company at this point if they do not find your services interesting or useful enough to hold their attention. Therefore, the first contact must have enough value for the potential client.

Stage 3: Activation

The outcome of the activation stage is to reduce any friction that may occur during user onboarding. You must explain the value proposition of your product and make them invest in it. Activation refers to minimizing user churn during onboarding in the first few days or hours. Studies have shown that reducing customer churn by just 5% can increase your profits by 25% to 125%.

Some standard activation techniques involve reducing onboarding complexities, discarding forms to be filled unnecessarily, and helping users to perform relevant initial product activities, such as sending their first message or inviting their friend.

Stage 4: Retention/Engagement

Customer retention must be the top priority for businesses. It is more profitable for businesses to continue to sell to the existing customers than to search and market to new customers. You can opt for up-selling or cross-selling at this stage to maintain the customer relationship. To do so, make contact from time to time in valuable ways so that customers keep coming back to you every time they need to make a purchase.

In a sense, there is a thin line between customer retention and engagement while buying a product. For some, retention refers to an act of making customers come back, while engagement is a measure of how much and how often they use your product at any one time.

Depending on the nature of your product, every company has its cutoff point at which you can consider if customers are active or have abandoned your product.

Stage 5: Loyalty

It is the final stage of a user journey in a customer lifecycle. Here, the client becomes your loyal ambassador and recommends your company offerings to others. Every buyer will not reach this stage and become a long-term customer. However, you should always aim to acquire more and more customers with every lifecycle of a product.

For a successful user journey, it is crucial to develop a better understanding of the customer lifecycle, from making contact and the sale to retaining loyal customers who keep coming back. If you are not capable of bringing more customers to this point, you must reflect upon the previous stages to see if you are failing in any of them.

Note that 25% to 40% of the total revenue of the most stable businesses comes from returning customers who drive three to seven times the revenue per visit as one-time buyers.

User Journey in Product Management: Final Words

The user journey in product management describes the different steps a customer goes through when considering, buying, availing, and remaining loyal to a particular product or service.

All the five distinct stages of the user journey, namely, reach, acquisition, activation, retention/engagement, and loyalty, affect the marketing efforts, product design, and operation support in product management. While it is obvious that sound marketing can bring product awareness, sometimes, the product features and customer support can drive awareness and acquisition too. How a business turns the interested users into customers depends on its ability to market and draw the attention of the right consumers.

An essential point to consider is that the customer lifecycle follows a cyclical pattern, which never ends. The ultimate goal of the user journey model is to build strong brand loyalty and convert customers who will become brand advocates for your company and refer your product or service to others in their circle. In the effort, companies should make sure that they stay relevant and are successful in offering value to their customers.

Mahima Arora
Associate Product Marketer at Zeda.io.
A marketing enthusiast, trying to influence society by means of media and drive sustainable good.
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