How to make an accurate map of your customer’s online journey

Google Maps iOS

Google Maps iOS

In a competitive landscape where the consumer is king, it’s more important than ever to understand how people move from knowing nothing or little about your brand, to becoming engaged prospects, and finally, converting into customers.

With customer journey mapping, you can walk alongside your online customers as they interact with your company so that you can better understand how you meet them, how they reacted to and engaged with your marketing, and at which points they decided to become your customer.

Thanks to all the data you are able to collect from digital campaigns and touch points, you can gather accurate data about the customer’s pathway to conversion so that you can use it to optimise spending and hone your messaging. Here are five steps that will help you to master online customer journey mapping.

1. Make sure you have the right tech in place

To get the data that you need to analyse and report on customer journey activity, you will need to have robust, integrated reporting and analytics tools in place. These tools should allow you to gather customer data from multiple customer touch points, such as paid and organic search, display and social media for example, and view it all in an integrated manner as well as drill deeper for more data. Your digital marketing partner should be able to offer you a lot of this technology so that you can focus on the insights from your data rather than on running the technology.

2. Understand what you want to measure

Customer journey maps are a great way to compare your customers’ actual behaviour and interactions with your content and campaigns to the experience you’d like them to have and the actions you’d like them to perform on every step of the journey. But before you can measure this in a meaningful way, you need to draw up clear strategic goals as well as the key performance indicators you will use to measure them. This will help you to optimise at every step of the customer journey so that you can keep customers on the desired path at every point of interaction.

3. The steps before the decision point matter, too

Too often in online marketing, we attribute the decision point to the last interaction the customer had with the brand. They found our Web site via Google and promptly ordered a big-screen television, therefore the attribution goes to search. Customer journey mapping is about tracing their steps back along the way to identify where and how their relationship with the brand grew.

We don’t just want to know when customers completed an action such as buying a product or filling in an online ‘please call me’ form, but also:

  • The point the customer was made aware of the brand or product;
  • When the customer’s behaviour first indicated serious consideration of the brand or product; and
  • When we first saw clear intent to convert.

This information will help you allocate your budget wisely and craft your creative and messaging to be appropriate to the customer journey. For example, the awareness journey might begin with exposure to a display ad; consideration might be displayed when the user does a Google search to compare the product or brand with others in the category; and intention when the customer performs a Google search to find the cheapest place to buy the product. By tailoring creative, content, landing pages and paid and organic search terms to your customer’s journey, you can help him reach your destination sooner.

4. Measure and learn with an open mind

Customer journey mapping will produce reams of data for you, and much of it might be counter-intuitive or contrary to what you would like to discover. For example, you might be on the verge of reducing budget for display when you find that a high proportion of the people who converted after a search were exposed to one of your banners. Look closely at the interplay between channels and how they impact on each other. If something seems strange or unexpected, experiment with your placements and creative to see what happens, or do more testing and research to understand what is going on.

5. Optimise, and repeat

With too much data, many marketers suffer from analysis paralysis. Rather try to hone in on the most important stories that the data tells you and use them to optimise your campaigns and strategies. Don’t get lost in the complexity of the data — keep bringing it back to what your customers want, need and respond to and the actions you’d like them to perform.

Customer journeys today are complex and fragmented, involving offline media as well as some online channels. Often, the journey might be short and simple, but it can also be a long and winding road where we have limited visibility. Mapping as much of this journey as you can as accurately as possibly will give you the ability to visibly improve business performance by improving conversion and spending marketing budget efficiently.



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