The customer journey is the path taken by a customer through various interactions with the company to the point of purchase.
Many sales transactions or comparable conversions are the result of a lengthy decision-making and information process in which users interact with the product and its provider via various channels – both passive and active. These interactions are also called touchpoints. In their chronological order, they are summarized as the so-called customer journey.
A touchpoint is any conceivable, cross-channel interaction between the customer and the supplier or product, e.g:
- Any kind of advertising (newsletter, poster, TV, banner, mail, etc.)
- Experience reports or reviews of the product
- Articles on blogs or in newspapers/magazines
- Search engine results
The customer journey can be divided into different phases. First, the customer becomes aware of a specific product (e.g. via an online ad). The user is interested in the product, possibly researches on it in forums or rating portals then visits the website to find out more. The customer journey ends with the purchase of the product or another type of conversion (e.g. newsletter subscription).
For the ideal use of personalized marketing, it is essential for companies to have as much information as possible about the customer journey of (potential) customers. In the online sector, so-called tracking tools help to track customer journeys across channels. The data obtained form the basis for a detailed (dynamic) segmentation into different customer types (e.g. affinity for special offers, the intensity of information acquisition, spontaneous buyers, etc.). Potential customers are assigned to one or more segments on the basis of their behavior and can be provided with precisely tailored content according to their typified user preferences.
In addition, the customer journey can be shortened iteratively by actively playing out the most valuable content for the customer at suitable points, thus “carrying” the customer to the purchase.
However, the evaluation of the customer journey is often problematic since it is difficult to assign the right share of the conversion to the individual touchpoints or to select the decisive touchpoint out of many regarding the conversion. Relevant improvements can therefore often only be achieved through intensive testing.