Customer Journey

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.

Definition

The term "Customer journey" stems 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 then proceeds through these touchpoints.

In offline advertising, it is very difficult to map the customers' journey, because it is generally impossible to find out where each visitor found about a store, and why they're there. Possible reasons could include recommendation from a family member, a 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 are making it easier 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 across many channels. What exactly is meant by customer journey is shown here Video.

Example of a customer journey

An amateur gardener discovers a new garden device in an opinion forum, which they find 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. They search on the Internet for the product and want to read about whether other amateur gardeners may have already reported on experience with the device. They use a rating portal. The experiences from others inspire them, and they want to buy the device. They visit the manufacturer’s website to find out where they can buy it, then they go to one of the specified online shops and order the product.

In this example, there are several touchpoints.

Opinion forum
Do-it-yourself store brochure in the newspaper
Rating portal on the Internet
Manufacturer’s website
Online Shop of an authorized dealer

Suitable touchpoints

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 touchpoints on the internet 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.

Phases of the customer journey

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.

Purpose of the customer journey

The purpose of evaluating the customer journey is to find out more about consumer behavior. Since the touchpoints involved are visible, you can derive from them how to better design the customer route to more certainly elicit an action from any potential buyer. It can also be analyzed how specific touchpoints relate to each other.

Customer journey analysis

Tracking tools, such as cross-domain tracking or cross-device tracking can help in the analysis of the customer journey. Cross-device tracking is a particularly useful tool for gaining insights into the customer journey, as you can find out what device the potential customer used to access the site, and in what order.

Problems

Depending on the data available, it may be difficult to find out exactly which touchpoint led to a conversion. Every touchpoint usually contributes to some extend to the customer’s purchase decision. If the consumer hadn't become aware of the product at the first touchpoint, they may never have found out about it at all. Without the positive ratings on the internet, the interest might have remained at a level not high enough to be 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.

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