Attribution basics

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(Digital) Customer Journey

What is a (Digital) Customer Journey?

In digital marketing, we have the unique ability to gain a lot of insights. We see what a customer clicks on, or how many pages he or she clicks before making a purchase. A customer journey is a path a customer takes before converting on your website. This path can occur online, offline or both online and offline.

A short definition

A customer journey is defined as the path or the cycle that a customer follows before deciding on the purchase of a product. The digital customer journey hence takes into account all online touchpoints that the user has with the product or brand before the purchase.

A customer journey takes place both at your website and outside your website. Therefore, the term customer journey is multi interpretable. At Odyssey, we mean the traffic sources that have sent a visitor to an advertiser’s website that finally led to a conversion or sale.

This means, every time a customer interacts with a traffic source, it is accounted for in what is called a touch point. The customer journey is therefore nothing more than a sequence of touch points before a conversion.

For example: If someone visits a webshop 5 times and buys a product on his 5th visit, we look at this customer journey as 5 touchpoints (traffic sources). Those 5 touchpoints have all contributed to the purchase.

What exactly is included when we talk about Customer Journeys?

Traditionally, a customer journey can include anything ranging from traditional (offline) media, social media, paid search, organic search and all other possible traffic sources. Simply put, if you see a product advertisement on a poster, then buy it on the mobile app, your customer journey includes those two touchpoints.

In the classic model a customer journey includes the following steps:

  • Awareness (first interest by the customer)

  • Consideration (interest becomes for concrete)

  • Conversion (decision to buy is made)

  • Retention (first experience is collected)

  • Advocacy (sharing experiences with others)

This references the famous AIDA model. It explains that advertising is effective through the four stages of Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.

When we talk about digital customer journeys, we limit this to the digital world. This is because it is hardly possible to track physical touch points with the brand or product.

Why are Customer Journeys so important?

In recent times, the importance of customer journeys has risen tenfold. As the volume of ecommerce sales steadily increases, firms become more and more concerned with topics like user experience and digital customer experience.

But why is that so crucial in today’s industry?

In short, online customers expect to get the best experience possible. Hence, a short customer journey means a short and good experience before buying the product or service. So customer journeys can be used to identify inefficient traffic sources in those journeys, and to ultimately improve customer journeys.

Customer Journeys can also be used to identify behavioral patterns and trends, which can be used to improve the customer experience.

This is useful in many different ways. For instance, it can help you directly see and analyze customer behavior and adjust your marketing strategies to it. It also helps getting rid of traffic sources that do not contribute a lot to your customer journey.

Customer Journey Mapping

Very interesting for digital marketers is also to make use of digital customer journey mapping. This means mapping a diagram that depicts the various stages a customer goes through when interacting with the company in real time.

This can include the initial conversion, but also future services such as customer service or social media.

The benefits for the company are wide-ranging, from implying on how (and when) to interact with potential customers to figuring out which outlets are the most effective. It can also highlight issues with the customer experience, and thus increase customer satisfaction.

However, it mainly describes how customers moved through the sales funnel and gives implications on how to make these journeys shorter. In other words, it allows a company to make more sales in fewer steps.

For example, if a company sees that a lot of its journeys are ineffective in paid search, it needs to reconsider the budget (or strategy) for paid search. Similarly, a company can always seize new potentials through identifying other attractive sources.

The Bottom Line

Word of mouth, paid search, social media and posters - all of these make up a touch point within a customer journey. In a rapidly changing environment and with consumers who become more and more impatient, it is key that customer journeys become shorter and efficient.

You can use the concept of customer journeys to identify your most and least effective outlets, improve customer experience and hence increase your sales.

By using customer journeys to gain insights, one can ensure the most efficient use of their channels and get important implications on what budget to allocate to what channel. This means, money can potentially be saved and used where it is more efficient elsewhere. And all these advantages can be obtained whilst reducing the length of the journey, leading to a faster conversion.

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