What is the customer journey?

A customer journey can be defined as the interactions a customer has with your brand from the very first time they engage with you to the point of purchase.

It’s another way of saying the customer lifecycle, or the steps your customers take from the time they first become aware of your brand to the point at which they become your brand’s biggest advocate. 

What are the steps of the customer journey?

Most of the time the customer journey begins when customers learn about your brand through a marketing campaign or through word of mouth. 

From there they might visit your website where they can explore your products and/or services, read client reviews and testimonials, and form initial opinions about your brand. 

The ideal next step in the customer journey is that those curious customers see value in what you’re offering and make a purchase. 

At each phase of the customer journey there are touchpoints. These are points in which a customer comes in contact with your brand and where you can communicate with them to grab their attention. 

Touchpoints include website content, social media content, email content, sales interactions, and customer service interactions, each designed to increase customer engagement and the likelihood of making a sale (or multiple sales). 

You may find that you need several touchpoints along the path to purchase – identifying these interactions is a process known as touchpoint mapping.

What is a customer journey map?

Often companies create something called customer journey maps to visualize how their customers arrive at a given destination, whatever that might be. 

Suppose the destination you have in mind for your customers is that they make a purchase. Your customer journey map would include touchpoints and milestones leading to that destination, such as “customer engages with an online marketing campaign,” “customer interacts with a social media post,” “customer speaks with a sales representative,” and “customer places order.”

A lot of times companies go even deeper when mapping customer journeys. They might imagine a specific type of customer or potential customer, then delve into that person’s unique needs, desires, and emotions each step of the way, calling attention to the touchpoints and milestones that will likely influence that individual’s purchasing decisions one way or the other.

To best capture the customer journey, people will more often than not, map the customer journey in a cohesive visual.  

In many cases, something called the user journey might go hand in hand with the customer journey. The user journey encompasses the steps a user takes on a company’s website or app to accomplish a particular task. Say, for example, a hypothetical customer’s end goal is to research a product or service on your website. In preparation for that customer, you’d want to look at your site and map out how a user would go from the homepage to a product page, and how easy or intuitive that progression is for them. If it’s a difficult or fragmented user journey, prospective customers might become frustrated and give up.

Why is a customer journey map important? 

With a good customer journey map, you can pinpoint how to best reach customers with key messages tailored to their needs and then gently guide them toward your product or service. But you wouldn’t stop with just one customer; ideally, you’d want to picture many different types of customers or personas, figuring out what makes each of them engage with your brand through each step of the customer journey.

What are customer journey analytics?

Collecting and analyzing customer journey data is an important step to better understanding your customers’ decision-making processes and pain points. 

The information you gain can help identify the following: 

  • Customer journey analytics can tell you how many of your customers purchase on your website versus over the phone or in person. 
  • How often customers select products or services and put them in their online shopping carts only to leave before clicking the “buy” button. 
  • Common reasons why customers visit your support or FAQ page. 
  • How much time customers spend on your website on average before making a  purchase.

“It’s hard to sell to someone you don’t understand”

You can also determine how many touchpoints it takes before the average customer purchases something and which touchpoints are the most effective. This could help you shore up your marketing and sales efforts in ways that will have the biggest impact.

It’s hard to sell to someone you don’t understand. Walking a mile in your customers’ shoes and seeing the scenery from their points of view is crucial to understanding their path to purchase.