Customer journey maps are visual illustrations of a customer’s experience with a brand, from initial discovery through purchase and retention. These tools are fundamental for marketers as they pave the way for personalization and targeted engagement. However, while over 80% of senior marketers believe mapping the customer journey is important, only 29% believe they are effective or very effective at creating a customer journey map.
To yield actionable insights, customer journey maps must be based on data and analytics that may seem overwhelming to collect and compile. While it is important to view the customer journey as a whole, in practice it can be broken down into distinct segments according to where the buyer is in the customer lifecycle. From awareness and consideration to purchase and retention, each phase requires unique measurement methods and reporting metrics.
Research tools like customer surveys, digital shop alongs, customer usage data, and customer interviews help paint a complete picture of the buying process, provide insights for expanding and tailoring marketing strategy, and track customer satisfaction. By using these tools to measure key engagement touchpoints, organizations can effectively monitor customer activity throughout the entire customer journey.
1. Customer Surveys
Customer surveys are the most common method for measuring the customer journey as they provide unique insight into awareness. Awareness-focused surveys should test for:
- Awareness and Consumer Opinions: How familiar are customers with your company as compared to your competitors?
- Key Watering Holes: Where do your customers turn to learn more about topics, challenges, and potential solutions?
- Purchase Intent: Why are customers considering your product or others like it?
These questions provide valuable insight into consumer behavior; however, insights can only be gained if customers choose to take the survey. Many customers avoid surveys because they are too long, do not provide any incentive, or are disjointed from the purchasing experience. To create a user-friendly customer survey, be sure to only ask a limited number of impactful questions; offer an incentive, like a discount on a product or service, in exchange for a completed survey; and use any insights already gained from observing customer activity to make the survey questions meaningful. Using the findings from customer surveys, marketers can target specific platforms for their channel plan and develop key messages for consumers.
2. Digital Shop Alongs
Digital shop alongs, or ethnographies, involve observing the customer in their own environment. There are two types of shop alongs:
- Digital Shop Alongs: In digital shop alongs, a customer shares a computer screen with researchers who observe the customer as they search online for a product, and ultimately decide whether or not to purchase. Digital shop alongs can identify improvements needed in the online purchase experience as well as website functionality, search results, and messaging.
- Traditional Shop Alongs: In traditional shop alongs, researchers observe shoppers in brick and mortar stores, evaluating how the shoppers move through the store and make a purchase. These shop alongs can reveal how shelf placement in a store and packaging impact the customer’s decision to purchase.
Shop alongs paint a complete picture of the motivations and key drivers of customers at the point of sale. When planning a shop along, recruit qualified users of the product by referencing demographic and purchase history data. Offering an incentive, like cash, gift cards, or credits towards future purchases can help in recruiting a qualified user. In addition, a trained, qualified interviewer should be involved to observe and question what shoppers are seeing, thinking, and feeling about the product and shopping environment. This researcher may be hired externally, or a member of your team can be trained in conducting this research. Use shop alongs to understand key painpoints, areas of improvement, or questions that went unanswered in the sales process.
3. Customer Usage Data
Customer usage data provide insight into what customer behaviors are likely to lead to a purchase and can shed light on which product attributes are most important to emphasize to customers. Important customer use data to collect at this phase include:
Website and online behavior
- Product ratings
- Demographic, behavioral, and psychographic data (location, income, gender, occupation)
- Purchase data
- Time on site
With the ability to monitor and analyze data, organizations can enhance customer experience and discover new revenue moments based on top webpages, characteristics of the user population, and how customers use your services. By filtering in data about the individual customer and grouping in customer segments that are meaningfully similar, companies can create sophisticated customer segmentations. These segmentations can help tailor marketing content that moves prospects toward conversion as well as gain a full picture of profitability by comparing usage data to revenue. In addition, this information aids Information Technology teams by pinpointing trouble areas of the site that can hinder purchases and provide insights into other site improvements that can be made to move customers closer to a purchase.
4. Customer Interviews
Customer interviews are a powerful way to unlock what elements are driving repurchase or dissuading buyers from recommending your product to others.
- In-depth Interviews: In-depth interviews can uncover rich data on the overall customer experience, usage trends, and satisfaction with your brand. Based on a carefully designed interview guide, each interview is shaped by the interviewee, adapting to the flow of conversation and incorporates customer feedback to probe for detailed information.
- Voice of Customer: A voice of customer analysis is a type of customer interview designed to investigate the needs, concerns, and goals of customers. They are ideal for identifying problems or challenges that drive a customer to seek out a brand and what solutions they expect from your product.
These tactics provide deep insight into customer behavior; as Michael Aagaard, senior conversion optimizer at Unbounce, says, “…nothing beats actually talking to your target audience. The insight you get is priceless, and no amount of quantitative data will let you reach the same level of understanding.” Focus on making your interview feel less like a question-and-answer session and more like a conversation, making the customer feel at ease in sharing their full thoughts on your services. With customer interviews, organizations can better understand the deeper emotions motivating customers in their purchasing decisions; additionally, customer surveys can help track retention trends and issues including ongoing surveys of Net Promoter Score® and customer satisfaction.