The idea of a “customer journey” may sound like marketing industry jargon, but it’s an essential piece of strategic thinking for businesses of all sizes–especially in today’s complex multichannel marketing environment. Customer journey describes at the path your customers take from the moment they are first compelled by a need to seek a solution, to their first encounter with your brand in particular, and all subsequent interactions between then and the time they buy from you or, heaven forfend, choose your competitor. These encounters with your brand may be traditional advertising, a phone call, billboards, a sign outside your business, word-of-mouth or airplane banners flying over the beach. Or they might be the result of web search, of reviews or directory listings on hundreds of different sites, social media, or your web site.

No matter what channel your potential customers meet you in, they expect the experience not just to be tolerable, but great. That means beautiful design, helpful copy and streamlined experiences that anticipate customer needs and questions.

According to eConsultancy’s 2017 Digital Trends Report, which surveys marketers worldwide, “Customer experience is regarded as the primary way for organisations to differentiate themselves from competitors in 2017.”

At Google’s Marketing Next 2017 event, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Senior Vice President of Ads and Commerce for Google, explained, “People expect assisted experiences, smooth, hassle free.” However, he said, consumer surveys show less than one-third of brand experiences are described as helpful. The solution? “Put customer at the heart of the marketing strategy.”

The task for businesses in 2017, Ramaswamy says, is to predict and address consumer needs, and to do that, we have to become smart about using data.

Where To Begin Mapping The Customer Journey?

There are a few common elements to a good customer journey map:

  1. User profile/persona. Who is making this journey? You may have several very different kinds of customer, and recognizing their different needs will help you tailor the experience properly for each.
  2.  What are the customer goals? What are they trying to accomplish?
  3. What tasks will they need to perform to accomplish their goals?
  4. What channels will they use to do these tasks? For example, email, web search, telephone, mapping app, etc.
  5. How does each of these channels provide a touchpoint for the customer with your company?

By thinking about these elements for each persona, you’ll be able to create an experience that flows naturally, and provides answers to critical questions at just the right time.

And by using data (the analytics on your website, your digital ad performance data, and email data), you can avoid the mistake of assuming whatever the “last click” that brought your customer to a purchase was the only one that contributed to that conversion.

Start by setting up conversion goals within your Google Analytics account, and then use the Multi-Channel Funnels tool. This will tell you how often a visitor came to your site before converting, and what channels assisted in that conversion.

If you want to go deeper (and of course you do) there are a massive variety of customer journey map templates available on the web. I also recommend this Think With Google piece on using analytics and attribution to understand customer journeys.


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