The customer journey, user journey or buyer’s journey is the entire process of how a customer discovers, interacts with, and purchases from a brand, product, or service. It includes all the touchpoints and channels that a customer encounters before, during, and after their purchase.
The customer journey is unique for every business and customer, and it reflects how well a brand meets the customer's expectations, needs, and emotions.
By understanding the entire customer journey, a business can optimise its marketing, sales, and service strategies to create a better customer experience and increase loyalty and advocacy.
What is Customer Journey Mapping?
Customer journey mapping is the process of visualising and understanding the entire lifecycle of a customer's interactions with a brand or business. It involves mapping out each touchpoint and step a customer takes, from the initial awareness stage to the post-purchase experience. By creating a comprehensive journey map, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of customer pain points and make informed decisions to enhance their overall experience.
What’s an Example for an Ecommerce Customer Journey?
In a perfect world, a customer would type in your website, find your product and buy it immediately. Now, this is never the case. Before purchasing, customers come into contact with several of your channels. These could include your Facebook ads, Google ads, your direct email, your social media website, and so on
Why is it Important to Understand Your Customer Journey?
If you want to avoid missing out on revenue, it is time to get an overview of your customer journey.
By understanding how long a customer needs to convert, what channels he goes through- and more importantly, how to improve them, you are one step closer to optimising sales.
You can also identify and eliminate any friction points or obstacles that might prevent your customers from buying or returning to your business. Afterall you will get answers to questions such as:
Which channels and campaigns break the customer journeys?
Why did that customer abandon their shopping cart?
Did the advertisement not correlate to the offer?
Which channels convert my customers most effectively?
How do customers hear about my brand first?
What do I need to change in my marketing mix to increase conversions?
The Length of a Customer Journey
To understand your customer journey, you also need to know how long it takes your customers to buy.
The length between the first interaction and the conversion can differ significantly among industries, as well as types of businesses (B2C vs B2B). For B2C and D2C brands it depends on the characteristics of the product (commodities vs. luxuries) as well as the price.
Advanced tracking and attribution helps you track the journey length suitable for your business and industry. This tells you how fast or slow your customers take their purchase decisions.
Here are some examples of the average customer journey length for different industries:
Measure each Marketing Touchpoint’s Conversion Value
Depending on the type of business, a customer journey can range from 1 to even 100 marketing, also called advertising touchpoints. Regardless of the amount of touchpoints, it is essential to weigh how much each touchpoint contributes to the conversion of a customer.
With the use of the right attribution model, you’ll get a clear view of what channels drive the most conversions. It maps all your customers marketing touchpoint data in one place, so you can understand your customer's behaviour, scale winning channels, and cut the losers.
The Different Customer Journey Stages
While every touchpoint works together to convert a customer, they all play different roles in the conversion. They all apply to different customer journey stages, depending on how far the customer is in their purchase decision process.
Note that with each stage, the customer journey funnel gets narrower.
There’s 4 stages to consider:
Let’s dive deeper into these stages:
1st Stage: Awareness
This is when the user discovers your brand for the first time. You can also call this the introduction stage, the first contact stage, or the initializer stage. This stage is crucial because it sets the tone for the rest of the customer journey. You can only introduce your brand once.
In this stage, you should create a clear brand message, use local and high-quality content, and focus on customer satisfaction. Positive reviews are key for the early customer journey, as 95% of customers check reviews before buying.
Typical Marketing channels:
Social Media Advertising (Brand driven)
Display (Content Driven)
Influencer Marketing (Brand driven)
Example scenario: Your potential customer Lisa sees a sponsored post from an influencer she follows. It features your brand’s products showing hot it has transformed her energy level. She likes the content and clicks on the link to check out your brand.
Some of the factors that influence the success of this stage are:
Word of mouth
Types of channels you are using
Quality and copy of the creatives
Format of the creatives (Video vs Photo)
2nd Stage: Consideration
In this stage, the user interacts with your brand, compares prices and features of different products, and gathers more information to make a decision. Details can make or break a successful conversion.
In this stage, the user experience should be your main priority. According to Gartner, more than 66% of companies compete mainly on customer experience. This makes sense, as another study shows that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. These statistics show that the online market is becoming more customer-centric.
Typical Marketing channels:
Social Media Advertising (Product Driven and Retargeting)
Search Engine Advertising (Non Branded)
Influencer Marketing (Product Driven)
Affiliate (Educational e.g. Blogs)
Example scenario: Lisa searches for supplements to boost brain function, clicks your Search Ad and explores your brand’s website, checking out your articles about the health benefits of your product. She adds an item to her wishlist or shopping basket and reads customer reviews to learn more about the quality of your products.
Here are some of the factors that affect this stage:
Synergies among channels
Retargeting with brand USP´s
Customer Service or Virtual assistant
Quality of Product catalogues and explanation e.g. UGCs
UX of the website (Search function, Menu & Navigation, Category Pages)
3rd Stage: Conversion
In this stage, the user makes up their mind, completes the checkout process, and buys the product. This stage is very important because you have already invested time and money to bring the customer this far. You don’t want to lose them at the last step.
Typical Marketing channels:
Social Media Advertising (Retargeting)
Influencer Marketing (Discount Codes)
Search Engine Advertising (Branded)
Search Organic (SEO)
Example scenario: After a few days of contemplation, Lisa decides to buy the items in her wishlist. She types in your brand name, clicks the Search Engine Branded Ad and ads her desired product to the shopping cart and checks out.
Some factors that can boost your conversion rate at this stage are:
Shipping and Payment forms
Personalised content and offers
Pagination or progress bar during checkout
Retargeting mix (not only email but social and display remarketing)
4th Stage: Post-Purchase
The customer journey doesn’t end when the sale is done. It’s important for customers to feel satisfied and confident with their purchase decision. You will want to keep your customers. The goal is to reduce one-time buyers and increase customer retention and lifetime value.
Did you know that keeping existing customers is five times cheaper than finding new ones? Customer loyalty can make your business more profitable. But 82% of businesses are missing out. After your customers buy from you, you can still sell them more things by cross-selling. You can show them other products that go well with what they bought. You can do this through email or other ways. For example, you can send them a newsletter with the latest fashion clothes that match their style.
Example scenario: After a few days, Lisa receives the package from your brand according to the estimated delivery time. She unboxes her new product. Inside the package she finds an explanation on how to best use your product and knows that she should purchase the next package within 30 days. After 20 Days you send Lisa an automated Email Newsletter proving her tipps to improve her habits and remind her to purchase the next package to stick with the routine. Lisa signs up for a subscription.
Besides the tips from the previous stages, here are some effective ways to boost your repeat purchases:
Thank you cards
Personalised remarketing (Newsletters, Seasonsale Promotions, Special Offers)
Food for Thought
Understand your customer's perspective. What do they need? And how can you meet and communicate those needs at every stage of their journey through which formats and channels? When you answer these questions, you are closer to optimising your marketing mix to grow your ecommerce business. Sure. You can change your customer’s experience. But only accurate and reliable data will help you to optimise it.
You don’t have to take our word for it. You can see for yourself how advanced marketing analytics can help you understand your customer journey better. Whether you want to increase conversions, retention, or acquire more new customers. Run a free test first and compare your current data to what you gain new. Sign up for a free tracking test to learn more about your customer journey.