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The Real Digital Customer Journey

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Taking Stock of the Many Online Customer Touchpoints to Understand How Buying Decisions are Really Made 

When mapping out content and other touchpoints to serve the digital customer journey, one of the biggest mistakes marketers can make is thinking that their audience approaches their buying decisions as a linear series of actions.

The traditional, high-level customer journey progression adhered to by marketers looks something like this:

Customer Journey Progression

While this diagram is a great guide for how certain types of content can drive forward action as customers become more interested and educated, it can also lull us into a false sense of security that we understand how our customers are making decisions; i.e., first this, then this, then this.

Customers come into contact with a host of digital touchpoints, many of which aren’t controlled by the brand itself. Customers find information through Google search, ads, social media platforms, product reviews, blogs, industry publications, and product or company websites. 

Therefore, customer journeys can actually look a lot more like this:

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This digital customer journey contains 35 touchpoints using a combination of desktop and mobile to navigate the journey. 

The customer is still enjoying forward momentum, but it’s happening much more slowly.

What this graph proves is that the digital customer journey is complex, and if brands want to reach the customer and track their behavior effectively, several actions are necessary:

  • Brands need to produce several pieces of content for each stage of the buyer journey to ensure that they are providing multiple ways for customers to get information – both so customers have multiple assets at their disposal for broader research, and because not everyone wants to read a whitepaper.
  • Brands need to key into the differences between digital devices used in the customer journey and how these variations can impact buying decisions; i.e., mobile vs. desktop vs. tablet.
  • Brands need to insert themselves into the customer journey in more ways than just producing a multitude of content – the digital customer journey includes many phases within “awareness”, “consideration”, and “decision”, and can last several months.

Tracking Content Consumption Through the Digital Customer Journey

Content, broadly, is an integral component of any digital customer journey. Content applies to website copy, blog posts, social media posts, resources like eBooks and whitepapers, guest posts you publish on other sites, and advertising, to name a few.

Because there are many ways to access content during the digital customer journey, it’s important to have several pieces of content available across multiple touchpoints. However, before you start writing, a few simple questions can help direct what type of content would be most advantageous based on your customers’ behavior:

  • Do customers primarily use a mobile phone or desktop computer to make their purchase?

If the answer is mobile, make sure your content is mobile-friendly – and we don’t just mean responsive. Consumers using mobile will appreciate short, quick, informative content that doesn’t require a lot of time or attention; i.e., product reviews, videos, or product comparisons. Chances are, your audience is using a mix of desktop and mobile, so you should look to provide multiple types of content that appeal to both.

  • Where do the bulk of purchases occur? I.e. on the website, through social media, in a store, over the phone, etc.

Knowing where your customers are making buying decisions is valuable information you can use to justify where you choose to put content and how you reach out to customers. For example, if you determine many purchases are occurring through your website, you can begin placing content at other touchpoints that drive to the website, and you can reevaluate your eCommerce experience to ensure it’s doing the best it can for the customer and for your business.

  • Where do customers come from before making a purchase; i.e., a competitor’s website, your blog, or a link in an email?

Wherever customers are coming from, if you know their path, you can place content strategically to influence buying decisions or get them to take the next step. Think ads on similar websites, calls-to-action on your blog or web pages – the more you know about your audience, the easier it is to guide their journey with purposeful content.

Different Devices for Different Behaviors

Because consumers are using multiple devices as they proceed along the buyer journey, it’s important for brands to track and respond to these activities. Marketing and retargeting tactics may work to an extent, but there are other considerations that will only boost your brand’s ability to convert. 

  • Ensure cross-device consistency. Where the customer experience is concerned, nothing is worse than a desktop experience that isn’t replicated with your mobile one. Not only should your e-commerce work well on all devices, but the information, layout, and accessibility should too.
  • Optimize, optimize, optimize. How many times have you found yourself standing in a store, trying to access a website on your phone to see about a product, and it just. won’t. load. Don’t replicate that frustration for your potential customers! They may move on – and never come back.
  • Play into your audience’s mood. According to research by Convince&Convert, consumers make more spontaneous purchases when using mobile. In addition, more consumers make online purchases at home. With targeted, customized, real-time marketing, you can influence those spontaneous purchases in your brand’s favor.

Be Tactical and Strategic with Content to Drive Audiences Through the Digital Customer Journey

We know content is important and thusly is assigned to the phases of the high-level customer journey that make the most sense for the customer. However, along the path from awareness, to consideration, to decision, your potential buyers are taking a lot of different steps involving many touchpoints. Brands should focus on the digital customer journey and also consider how offline activities can influence that journey as well. Print advertising, radio spots, mailers, leave-behinds, and other offline content can drive potential buyers to your website, and can be just as effective and strategic as a series of digital content. 

When it comes to the digital customer journey, there are a lot of considerations for brands in terms of how to reach their target audience and get them to take action. But the most important consideration is who your audience really is. Your customer journey strategy can be highly effective if you’re resonating with your target audience and showing them that your brand understands them and what they need.

Without knowledge of who your audience is, your efforts to drive the digital customer journey may not be as effective. 

Want to tap into your target audience and understand their digital customer journey so your brand can stand out and win customers? Of course you do! Fishnet can help – contact us today!