What actually is a customer journey?

A lot can happen from the first contact with a product to the purchase. The customer journey shows how customers make a purchase decision.

The term customer journey comes from marketing and stands for the process that a customer goes through after learning of the existence of a product and the path that he then takes until he decides to buy.

Touch me

Typically, customers don’t strike immediately after discovering a product. This applies even more to high-priced items. Before they buy it, interested parties usually come into contact with the product several times. These so-called touchpoints can be visualized in a customer journey map . The touchpoints can be very different in nature. From classic TV or radio advertising to internet forums, rating portals, manufacturer websites, blogs and banners, everything is possible – but also optional. Depending on the customer, this results in very individual customer journeys, which are often so similar that marketers can summarize them in different personas .

Even if there are many different touchpoints, they can still be differentiated based on a very important criterion: They are either online or offline. Online touchpoints are much more preferred by marketers because they can be implemented – also across channels – through cookies and with the help of tools for cross-domain and cross-device tracking– can be easily tracked. This is significantly more difficult in the offline world. Who, when, saw a poster or heard a radio spot and subsequently made a purchase can only be traced if you ask customers directly about it – and then they also provide information. Using QR codes, apps for customers and WiFi tracking, marketers try to at least partially map offline events on site in the store online and thus make touchpoints visible.

4 phases of the customer journey

There are different approaches to dividing the customer journey. What they have in common is the assumption that the purchase decision is usually not made immediately and that the customer first goes through certain phases before pulling out the wallet. According to the widely used Aida model, these can be divided into the following parts:

  1. Attention – the customer becomes aware of a product that interests them.
  2. Interest – the customer develops interest in the product.
  3. Desire – the customer feels the desire to own the product.
  4. Action – the customer purchases the product.

Analysis of customer behavior

However, it is by far not enough to just make the customer journey visible on a map. From the analysis of the customer journey, marketers expect to learn more about customer behavior. If contact points are made visible, they can also be optimized – if the customer journey map should, for example, indicate that many customers drop out after visiting the manufacturer’s website, this results in a clear starting point with instructions for improvement . The conversion rate can then be improved. In addition, experts can recognize whether certain touchpoints are in a causal relationship, the visit to the website correlates with the installation of the app, for example.

At this point, however, the limits of a customer journey map also become apparent: connections are not always clear and unambiguous. In retrospect, it is not always clear which touchpoint was ultimately decisive for the purchase, or the effective relationship between the touchpoints. Often it is the interaction of many touchpoints that has convinced the customer. Merging the data also becomes more and more difficult as the volume increases. In addition, users are becoming more and more sensitive with regard to sovereignty over their data and are putting a stop to the data collection mania of some companies – for example in the form of tools that prevent tracking or by not allowing or deleting cookies.

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