It’s a magic formula of marketing: be close to the customer. And that’s easier said than done. A customer journey should help to bring your marketing to a more personal level and thereby strengthen the bond with the customer. But what is a customer journey or customer trip anyway? We answer these and the following questions in our article:
Definition: Customer journey explained
The term customer journey comes from marketing. The point here is that the customer usually does not decide to buy a product as soon as he sees it for the first time. He often comes into contact with a product, the brand and the company several times before he decides to buy it. These individual points of contact with the company are called “touchpoints”. The customer journey thus maps the path of the individual touchpoints until a final purchase decision is made.
Advantages of the customer journey for your marketing
Dealing with the customer journey has many advantages. The main aim is to use this to identify the preferences and wishes of the customers in order to be able to align the company’s activities accordingly. In order for this to be possible, all touchpoints must be revealed transparently in order to be able to really understand every step. Therefore, the customer journey can be used very well to optimize the communication concept. Campaigns can be designed better and individual decision-making processes can be made better.
For e-commerce, this can be very handy. In this way, customers can be influenced at some point in their journey to buying the product by giving them exactly what they are looking for and making their purchasing decision as easy as possible. Web controlling tools can be used to track exactly what movements the customer made before visiting their own website, i.e. how exactly they got to the website. This makes it easy to clarify whether there was just one touchpoint that led to the purchase of a product or whether there was a whole series of different points that ultimately led to it. The corresponding analyzes can thus be used to determine how the target group has reacted to certain marketing measures and to what extent these can be adapted.
The different phases of the customer journey
Overall, there are different models of how the customer journey can be represented. However, the basic idea is the same for all of them: It can be assumed that the purchase decision is not made at the first point of contact. Because first the customer has to be made aware of the product and an interest in the product has to be aroused. Only when the customer has received some information can the desire to buy the product arise. As a rule, only then does the purchase follow. How many steps the customer journey has exactly is not clearly defined. However, five stages are often assumed:
During the awareness phase, the customer first becomes aware of the product. Then, in the consideration phase, he decides whether he wants the product. This is followed by the conversion in which the customer buys the product. In the retention phase, he then gets the product and is at best satisfied with it. The last phase is then the advocacy phase, in which the customer shares his experiences with others and, at best, recommends the product. In this way, the awareness phase can begin again with another customer.
As you can see from the individual phases, the customer journey does not end after purchasing the product. Because if the customer receives the product and is not satisfied, for example because it does not meet their expectations, they have experienced a bad customer journey. In other words, he will send the product back and not recommend it. It is therefore important to deal thoroughly with your target group to find out which products they need. Only in this way will customers be able to go through the entire journey to the end.
Step-by-step to the perfect customer journey
It should now be clear that the customer journey is important. But how do you ensure that the customer goes through this correctly and leaves with a positive experience? We tell you step by step how to create a successful customer journey.
1. Gather data about the target audience
Of course, in order to create the ideal customer journey for your customers, you need to know everything about them. Therefore, extensive research is required to collect the most important data about your target group. From these, a customer journey map can later be created. You can pull data for your audience’s behaviours from the following sources:
2. Create personas
When you create personas, a target group is assigned certain characteristics. This makes the target group seem less abstract and helps marketers better empathize with the target group. It is therefore important that you assign personas to the characteristics that you have extracted from the data collection. These can be the following characteristics:
- demographic characteristics, such as place of residence or age
- the biggest problems
- values and goals
- Objections against a purchase
Once you know about your target group, it will be much easier for you to respond to the needs of your customers and to think your way into them.
3. Work out touchpoints
Now it’s about working out all the touchpoints that your potential customer has with your company until they end up buying your product. This also includes working out the channels through which your customer comes across your company. These can be touchpoints that can only be found online or those that exist offline. An online touchpoint could be an advertisement on a social media platform. Offline, the customer may hear about the product from a conversation with a friend.
Once you have identified these platforms and channels, you should consider whether there are other channels that you have not yet used. On the other hand, it is also important to sort out unnecessary channels that are not successful or do not correspond to your target group.
4. Identify customer sentiment
Feelings always play a major role when buying a product. Therefore, you should also deal with the emotional state of your potential customers. In doing so, you go through all the previous points and think about where your persona feels what. In this way, you quickly notice which problems users may be facing and where there are still obstacles that can prevent them from buying the product. So you should also ask yourself whether the customer gets enough information at every touchpoint or whether he gets the information he needs. Technical aspects can also influence the decision for or against a purchase. For example, if your customer sees your product in an advertisement, clicks on it and has to wait too long for the page to load, they could quickly bounce back. Therefore, try to go through the customer journey yourself to find out where problems still arise.
5. Assess the intensity of the touchpoints
Each touchpoint is perceived differently by a customer. When he sees a product in an ad, he probably doesn’t react as strongly as when a good friend tells him about the product. Which touchpoint affects a person and how strongly depends on the needs, goals and characteristics of a person. Here you have to find out which touchpoint has the greatest impact on your target group. Once you have figured that out, it is a matter of offering the right solution for your customer at the right place in order to gain their trust and convince them of your company.
6. Visualize customer journey map
Now that you’ve collected all the important data, it can be helpful to visualize all these points in a customer journey map. This will help you remember the exact steps and make sure you haven’t forgotten an important touchpoint. How you design this map is entirely up to you. It is only important that it contains all the important points of your customer’s journey and thus offers you a good overview.
Obstacles around the customer journey
As you can see, creating a customer journey is time-consuming and complex. Maintaining the customer journey also requires commitment. In particular, the analysis of the individual touchpoints requires accuracy, as these are crucial for success. The mere lack of a touchpoint can have a negative impact on the success of the customer journey. In addition, many companies do not make sufficient use of the opportunity to work with foresight. As a result, a large part of the marketing potential of the customer journey remains unused. Also, don’t forget that it’s called the customer journey and not the company journey. – The customer or customer satisfaction should always be in the foreground. If this is neglected, you will not achieve any improvements in this regard.
Conclusion: The customer journey is a powerful marketing tool
The customer journey is a very important marketing tool to understand why a customer buys your product or what prevents him from doing so. It, therefore, represents their journey from the first contact with the product to its recommendation to others. When analyzing the customer journey, it is particularly important that you empathize with your customer all the time and thus address their problems. This is the only way you can be sure that you can understand your customer’s journey and that you make the right adjustments at the right place so that the customer decides to buy a product
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the customer journey in marketing
The term customer journey literally describes the journey of potential customers through various touchpoints or contact points with a product, a brand or a company until they carry out the desired target action. The target action is most often purchase or order.
Dealing with the customer journey has many advantages. The main aim is to use this to identify the preferences and wishes of the customers in order to be able to align the company’s activities accordingly.
Awareness, Consideration, Conversion, Retention and Advocacy