Customer journey refers to the path followed by a customer via so-called touchpoints before making a purchase decision. It can be visualized in a customer journey map.
The term "Customer journey" comes from the field of marketing. A consumer doesn’t usually decide to purchase immediately after finding out about a product for the first time. Usually customers look at a product or a brand several times before deciding on an action, known in Marketing as Touchpoints. The customer journey forms the way through these touchpoints.
The customer journey is difficult to see or measure in offline advertising, since it is usually impossible to find out where each visitor found out about a stationary store and why he came there. Reasons could be a recommendation by his brother, a current flyer or an ad in the newspaper. You might be able to find out the reasons with a qualitative survey. However, these surveys are expensive to conduct. New approaches such as "Instore-Tracking" via "Beacons" or wifi-tracking make it possible for stationary stores to reconstruct the Customer Journey inside a store.
On the Internet, however, the contact points of any potential customers for a product or service can be precisely tracked with suitable tracking tools, even over many channels. What exactly is meant by customer journey is shown here Video.
An amateur gardener discovers a new garden device in an opinion forum, which he finds interesting. In a brochure from the local do-it-yourself store, which was included with his newspaper, he finds out some basic data about the product, for example, the technical features and price. His interest intensifies. He searches on the Internet for the product and wants to read about whether other amateur gardeners may have already reported on experience with the device. He uses a rating portal. The experiences from others inspire him and he wants to buy the device. He visits the manufacturer’s website to find out where he can buy it. He goes to one of the specified online shops and orders the product.
In this example, there are several touch points
Opinion forum Do-it-yourself store brochure in the newspaper Rating portal on the Internet Manufacturer’s website Online Shop of an authorized dealer
Different types of media can be considered interaction and contact points. There is advertising media such as TV ads, radio spots, newspaper inserts, ads on billboards, advertising columns, and similar elements of classic advertising. However, these forms of advertising cannot be tracked. Therefore the contact points on the net are more interesting for online marketing, such as opinion forums, experience portals, blogs, manufacturer sites, banner ads and similar advertising materials. They can be made fully visible in the form of customer journeys.
There are different approaches in terms of how to divide the phases of the customer journey. However, they all share one idea in common; it can be assumed that the decision to buy is not usually made immediately. First, the target group must be made aware of the product. In the next step, interest for the product must be created. Only some time after information was received, will a desire for the product arise, which eventually ideally leads to action. One speaks in this case of a conversion. The principle is similar to the AIDA model.
The envisioned action does not necessarily have to be a purchase or order. Even the registration for an email newsletter or requests for information can be a reasonable goal, depending on the individual corporate objectives.
The purpose of evaluating the customer journey is to find out more about consumer behavior. Since the contact points involved are visible, you can derive from it, how to better design the customer route to more certainly elicit an action from any potential buyer. It can also be analyzed how specific touch points relate to each other.
Tracking tools, such as cross-domain tracking or cross-device tracking can help in the analysis of the customer journey. Especially with cross-device tracking you can find out what device the potential customer used to access the site and in what order.
Difficulties may exist in finding out which touch point ultimately led to a conversion depending on the data. Every touch point usually contributes to some extend to the customer’s purchase decision. If the consumer would not have become aware of the product at the first touch point, he might never have found out about it at all. Without the positive opinions on the Internet, it might have remained at interest level which is not followed by an action. An exact determination of the cause in this area is difficult.
Also, the analysis of the customer journey can cause problems in online marketing due to data protection. The customer journey cannot be precisely reconstructed if a user deletes their cookies or uses a tool that prevents tracking, and the combination of different data is only allowed in certain circumstances