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Customer Journey Data

A Data-driven Methodology

Digital companies today have to understand their customers thoroughly to keep them engaged over the long term. It’s the entire customer journey that matters now, not just that enterprises sell great products, send out compelling emails, or make onboarding easy. Every step in the journey matters, and those who optimize accordingly beat out their competitors. 

The customer journey encompasses the totality of what people experience when engaging with a brand. It begins when people first learn of a new product, service, or offer, and it extends far beyond purchase.

Managing the customer journey effectively from end-to-end requires companies to understand how people feel at every point of interaction. It also means helping individuals transition from one stage to the next as smoothly as possible. 

The ultimate goal of a customer journey mapping exercise is to identify opportunities to improve consumer experiences in such a way that increases long-term customer value.

One of the most important tools for evaluating the effectiveness of the customer journey is the customer journey map. Customer journey maps are visual representations that depict every touchpoint individuals have with a brand. When coupled with good data, customer journey maps can provide clear indication of how well digital companies are meeting the needs of their customers.  

The Basics Of Customer Journey Mapping

The ultimate goal of a customer journey mapping exercise is to identify opportunities to improve consumer experiences in such a way that increases long-term customer value. Customer journey mapping moves companies towards this goal by forcing product teams to take a hard look at when, where, and how they interact with their target audience.

In general, there are eight steps, and thus eight “locations” on the customer journey map, that companies should consider:

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Evaluate
  • Purchase
  • Onboard
  • Engage
  • Retention
  • Advocate

And these eight steps can be bucketed into three broader stages:

  • The Acquisition stage (Awareness, Interest, Evaluate, Purchase)
  • The Activation stage (Onboard, Engage)
  • The Adoption stage (Retention, Advocate)

The Acquisition stage refers to the period when prospective customers search for solutions to their problems and investigate various offerings. In the Acquisition stage, potential buyers consume information, explore websites, parse through free resources, and develop early impressions of a company. The Acquisition stage makes consumers aware of a solution, nurtures them, and encourages people to take some sort of action. 

In the Activation stage, digital companies onboard customers and guide them through the process of making a purchase. While this stage is transitional, it’s critical for building trust with individual buyers. It’s when people start engaging with a brand on a deeper level.

The Adoption stage is where customers incorporate what they’ve purchased into their workflows or daily lives. The goal for companies at this point is to keep people coming back for as long as possible, which means continuing to provide sufficient value for what customers pay. It’s all about retaining users and creating advocates. 

Across each of these stages, companies may interact with target audience members many times. And every one of these moments either improves or damages a brand’s reputation. Getting people across the organization to understand this is much easier with a visual tool, like a customer journey map. 

To assess specific moments along the customer journey effectively, product teams have to study cold, hard data. Without data, it’s hard to make decisions confidently regarding what to start, stop, and continue doing as it pertains to the customer journey.

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How To Use Data To Refine The Customer Journey

Data is paramount in customer journey mapping, because it provides an objective, measurable view of how well digital companies attract and retain customers. It helps identify strengths and weaknesses across the customer journey that would otherwise remain hidden. Data also makes it possible to track results, measure progress, and increase the predictability of outcomes.

For instance, product teams can collect data describing the brand’s ability to convert prospects in the Acquisition stage into Activated patrons. Data can also reveal problems in the onboarding process – if subscribers drop off in droves between the Activation and Adoption stages, it could mean there’s friction in the ramp-up experience. 

It enhances information received through other channels and gives leaders a broader perspective of the quality of the customer journey.

Customer journey data comes in many forms. Digital companies can gather web browsing data, app usage data, eCommerce sales data, online engagement data, and even data points from second or third-party groups. The best type of data to collect depends on the specific business model.

To be clear, data doesn’t replace the need to solicit feedback from customers. It enhances information received through other channels and gives leaders a broader perspective of the quality of the customer journey. Product teams still need to validate hypotheses and ask users to share what is exceptional or frustrating about the overall buying experience. 

In collecting and analyzing data, it’s easy to forget the motivation behind doing so. Data tells product teams where to focus energy in order to make changes that increase revenues, reduce costs, win customers, and prevent churn. And the more that digital companies incorporate analytics into their customer journey mapping, the easier it becomes to make decisions that will have a financial impact.

For instance, when marketers know what percentage of prospective buyers at the top of the funnel turn into long-term advocates, on average, they know how much they can reasonably invest in paid advertising, email marketing, and social media campaigns without cutting into profits. Moreover, sales teams can segment potential customers more easily and focus on those who match the profiles of people who go on to become long-term supporters.

To summarize, data provides a crucial pulse check on the health of a digital company’s customer journey. When product teams can collect, analyze, and apply data insights effectively, they have the power to design the ultimate customer experience from beginning to end.