How Understanding Your Customer Journey Helps Attract More Customers

In recent years the topic of customer journey (sometimes called buyer journey or user journey) has got some well deserved attention. One of the main reasons this is becoming a hot topic (see this Google Trends chart) is because we are gathering so much information about users and their behaviors, it is now becoming possible to connect the dots, see where they’ve been and derive some meaningful insights.

credit: Dilbert

But first, what is a customer journey anyway?

Customer Journey Definition

Customer journey can be viewed as part of the larger “Customer Experience”, meaning all of the touch points between a customer and a brand/organization:
Digital Customer Journey

“In the classical marketing model, marketing was deemed to a funnel: at the beginning of the process (in the “awareness” stage) there were many branches competing for the attention of the customer, and this number got reduced through the different purchasing stages.

Marketing was an action of “pushing” the brand through few touch points (for example through TV ads).

In the digital era, there are many more touch points: digital media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc) and other Internet platforms, such as forums, blogs, etc.

As a result, this process has become a journey”

(source: Wikipedia)

In other words, our improved ability to track our customers’ path and follow their touch points in the digital space now allows us to better map their journeys.

The Different Stages of the Customer Journey

The customer journey is made up of different stages:

1 – Awareness  (“Psssstt, check out this new fruit, it’s called an Apple”)

2 – Consideration (“looks interesting, not sure I’m ready to try it yet though”)

3 – Conversion (“heck, maybe just a little taste”)

4 – Loyalty (“wow! totally opened my eyes, from now on, only apples for me”)

5 – Advocacy (“hey Adam”,  “yes Eve?”,  ”you HAVE to try this Apple, it will blow your mind!”)
Apparently, these stages haven’t evolved much over the course of our history…

Why do we need to map and understand Customer Journeys in the first place?

Until recently, before the digital revolution, marketers could mostly invest and focus on the awareness stage in the funnel (aka, billboards, tv and print ads, etc.). Today, we are able to track the position of the person in the digital space more closely and understand where they are in the funnel. This data can help marketers understand if and how well their conversion funnel is working, and find inefficiencies in their promotion and customer acquisition processes.

Let’s use the following example: a b2b brand is looking to acquire customers. They invest in inbound and outbound marketing and advertising (content marketing, PR, PPC, events, etc.).

Here are some of the questions understanding the customer journey can help with:

How long does it take from initial exposure (the awareness stage), until the conversion stage (Journey Length)? Does is take 4 days, 2 weeks or 3 months?  This is important for 2 reasons: 1) this will tell you when you can expect to generate revenue from a potential customer that just heard of your brand and 2) see if your journey is increasing or decreasing in length over time.

Are we reaching the right people (potential customers), from which sources are they coming from, where do they landing and what do they do there (Journey Touch points and Sources)? The answers to this questions will enable you to improve you marketing strategy, make better media buying decisions (should I invest in PPC, buy traffic from Taboola or Outbrain, sponsored posts in Facebook or Linkedin), content creation, etc.

Are we losing people along the way and why?

Do people that reach our properties get lost somewhere? are they looking for some information and can’t find it?

Who should we get back to continue our journey?

Today, with basic retargeting, we are able to bring back people that visited our site. The real challenge is bringing back those specific visitors that have given some indication that they can be potential customers. By tracking the journeys of converted customers (what did they read, from where did they come from, etc.) we can identify patterns which help us predict, where our next customer will come from and which visitors are more valuable to us to bring back.

What does your customer truly wants?

One of the basic questions is understanding your customers’ needs and pain spots. Mapping customer journeys can help reveal those topics. For example, by looking at the journeys of visitors through the company’s blog, its possible to see which topics are more important to your customers, and at which stage of the journey.

Customer acquisition process is a feedback loop – simply put, the data gathered from the previous round is used to improve the next one. The more insights you have, the better your chances are at improving the next round. Digital marketing (or growth hacking, depending on how geeky your industry is) relies on data and experimentation to exploit opportunities that others have overlooked. Customer journey analytics and optimization can give you that unfair advantage and help you acquire your next customer faster and cheaper.

Here are some of the ways TrenDemon can help you “growth hack” your customer journeys through content marketing:

1 – Identify the typical customer journey through your content properties – where are they hanging, what are they reading, how many articles are they reading before converting, from which sources do they come/return.

2 – Find the optimal journey for each user – map the most effective and efficient route for your visitors to help them convert into clients.

3 – Automatically improve your customer journeys using personalized content recommendations and call to actions – once a better journey has been identified by TrenDemon, our automation units kick into action and help divert visitors to their optimal route (based on what they’ve already read, where they came from, where they are in the site or page and what we want them to achieve)

4 – Learn how to improve the journey for your next customers –  for example, which content you need to create next, where to promote it and whether your journey is better/worse than similar companies in your industry (relative competitive info).

In summary, customer journey analytics and optimization is now becoming a vital part of the content marketing strategy. Finding the journey’s strong and weak points is vital in improving the experience and conversion rate of your visitors.

Other Resources:

White Paper: Map and Optimize Your Customer Journey by IBM

On Defining Customer Journeys based on  Marketing Personas by  Conversioner

Do you have any tips on improving customer journeys? Questions? Feel free to comment/share 🙂