The 'Customer Journey' is a term which is increasingly used to try and capture the impact of digital technology and media on sales and marketing.
But, what does it mean?
In a simple sense, it can mean the route a customer takes from getting their original idea to making a purchase. For instance, you decide you want a pizza. What are the steps you go through to get your pizza delivered?
However, it goes much deeper than that, as the following sections will illustrate.
Who is a Customer?
In the above example, the customer is simply the person buying a pizza. What if we broadened this definition to include anyone who interacts with your company. Could they too be considered customers?
I we do, we now get a much bigger set of people. This set can include employees, investors, suppliers, competitors, reviewers and third party partners.
How Can Customer Interactions Happen?
There are several ways to come into contact with a customer. Some instances are:
- The internet
- In person
- On retail premises
- Via telephone
- Via mail
- At trade shows & conferences
- Via news media
And the internet, which sparked this need for customer journey mapping, can be sub-divided further into:
- Device type - desktop computers, smart phones and tablets
- Social media channels
- Assorted media channels - Blogs, podcasts, videos, webinars, newsletters etc.
Collecting Customer Journey Data
There are several ways of getting to understand customer's journeys. These include surveys, direct observation, focus groups and digital analytics.
One Customer - Many Journeys
One of the interesting findings from these studies, is that any given customer may have several interactions with an organisation, before they act.
And further, the nature of their journey can be influenced by their current circumstances and the context within which they find themselves.
For instance, one day a customer may check out a product online, before going into a store and buying it. On a different occasion, the same customer may review a product online via their smart-phone, check out some social media posts on it, then later on that day go to a web page on a desktop device and order it directly online.
What influences this change in behaviour? The weather, the physical size of the purchase, the product type, value of the purchase, which day of the week it is etc.
These studies are helping organisations to better understand their customer's needs. And help them to design and build holistic systems which meet these needs.
Technology has a central role to play in understanding customer behaviour and in facilitating consistent user experiences across all customer-to-company interactions.
It also means that implementing adhoc digital marketing channels to respond to a new trend doesn't always help, until the bigger picture of buyer behaviour is understood.
As we can see, asking a simple question like how did a customer end up making a purchase opens up a world of challenges in a digital marketing environment.
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Digital Marketing Training.