A woman experiences the Customer Journey when shopping online

The Customer Journey – the journey of your customers

How about looking at your website, your products and all your communication measures not from a business perspective but from the perspective of your customers? This change of perspective will teach you a lot about your customers, their behaviour and how you can tailor your offer even better to your target group. And in order to approach the whole thing strategically, today we will walk along the customer journey and thus easily find your strengths and the points that can possibly be optimized a little bit.

Customer Journey – who travels where?

Customer Journey is a term from marketing and describes the individual cycles that a customer goes through before he decides to buy a product. Customer Journey also includes dealing with the product after the purchase, the further search for information as well as the communication about it in forums and with colleagues, friends and acquaintances.

The Customer Journey therefore includes all points of contact that a consumer has with a brand or product. This includes not only the direct points of interaction between customers and companies – such as advertisements, websites, etc. – but also all the other points of contact that a consumer has with a brand or product. -but also the indirect points of contact where the opinion of third parties is sought – such as rating portals and forums – and which cannot be directly influenced by you as a company [1].

Before a visitor to your website becomes a customer, he or she will have an average of six to eight contacts with your brand [2] During this process they form their opinion. This means that you would do well to create a uniform, positive and clearly structured appearance across all channels and touchpoints in the sense of a customer journey.

The 5 phases of the Customer Journey

We probably know them all: the AIDA formula. Attention – Interest – Desire – Action. This – now somewhat outdated – model is also the basis of the Customer Journey, but will be extended a bit. Due to new communication channels, customer behaviour has also changed and is by far not as linear as it used to be.

 

Excellent.Org: The diagram shows that potential customers today have countless channels

The diagram shows that potential customers today have countless channels and possibilities to get in touch with your brand and get detailed information about it. Be it through your website, your social media channels, through the exchange with friends and colleagues and of course through forums and blogs. All these points of contact will lead to whether the prospective customer eventually becomes a customer or not.

But what does a customer journey look like? This can be divided into five phases, based on the AIDA model:

Excellent.Org: The Aida modell with its stages

 

1. Awareness (consciousness)
The customer has a problem and/or need that he would like to solve and has become aware of your company. This can be done, for example, through classic advertising in online and offline media, recommendations from friends or even generally when surfing the Internet. In order for him to move on to the next phase, interest must have arisen from his first contact with your company.

2. Consideration
If this is the case, the prospective customer thinks about how well your product or service can solve his problem or how much his need is satisfied. It is precisely at this stage that the prospective customer will most likely gather further information about your company and your services and thus come into contact with various touchpoints. Here it is now important to support his considerations positively, to provide answers, to give the prospective customer a good feeling and, if necessary, to be available as the first point of contact in case of further questions.

3. Conversion 
If you were convincing, the prospect becomes a customer and buys your product or service. This takes place either via your website or at the stationary point of sale. Make the purchase as pleasant, uncomplicated and trustworthy as possible. Of course, it is still conceivable that the purchase will be cancelled.

4. Retention (receipt)
After the first purchase, it is decided whether this customer will make another purchase from you or not. This depends on various factors. These include their experience during the purchase, the support they receive in case of any questions or problems, their satisfaction with the product or service and, of course, whether you have more to offer, which arouses the customer’s interest.

5. Advocacy
As already mentioned, many contacts with your company also take place indirectly and cannot be influenced directly by you. However, you can influence this by turning your satisfied customers into brand ambassadors. Let your customers tell you about their experiences – be it in an evaluation, a personal recommendation to friends and family or the classic way of rewarding recommendations. Your measures for customer care and customer loyalty also count here. Because you certainly also know that the opinion of a friend or family member is at least as valuable as the advertising you place – usually satisfied customers are the best advertisement for your company.

The Customer Journey can take years, but sometimes only a few seconds, it can contain countless touchpoints or just one – it depends on your product and the individual customer.

The challenge is not to lose the customer during the journey – especially if it lasts longer than a few seconds and is not an impulse purchase.

Benefits of the Customer Journey

Excellent.org: Man sitting in front of his laptop - probably thinking about his journey as a customer

 

Especially in online retail, the customer journey is of great importance, as tracking and analysis tools can be used to gain insights into the interdependencies of the individual touchpoints. Where do your customers come from? How do they become aware of your company? Which channels deliver the greatest conversion? The aim is to get to know your customers, their behaviour and motives better and to align your measures accordingly. Within the framework of the Customer Journey Analysis, we therefore try to make all touchpoints visible and transparent until a customer makes a purchase decision.

The evaluation thus makes it clear which touchpoints are passed through before a purchase is made. Are there perhaps also channels that you can save on? Do cannibalization effects occur between individual channels? By asking these questions, you can see where and how you can optimally use your resources, what you should possibly expand and where you can save. The basis is of course a detailed data storage and evaluation of the behaviour of your visitors and customers. This is currently done mainly via cookies. If you have a stationary retail business, customer cards and bonus programs are also available to guarantee complete tracking of customers to Journey. In this way you can respond even more specifically to the preferences of your customers and thus contribute to an even more positive brand experience.

Conclusion

Analyzing the customer journey of your customers helps above all in the design of campaigns and their ideal adaptation to the individual decision-making processes of your customers. As already mentioned, the consumer’s journey is of great interest especially in e-commerce. On the one hand, the customer can be influenced by online marketing and on the other hand, customer movements can be tracked by tools such as Google Analytics. A complete tracking is of course not always possible for reasons of data protection. Nevertheless, it is advisable to put yourself in the shoes of your customers from time to time and see which channels are most likely to lead to a conversion – and where you can possibly save resources.

Have you not yet dealt with the customer journey of your customers in too much detail? Then read on to find out how a customer journey map can help you better understand your customers and their needs, and how you can align your corporate identity and all your communications with them.


 

[1] Wikipedia: Customer Journey

[2] Content Marketing Institute: How to Increase Conversions at Each Stage of the Customer Journey (2016)