The path that customers take to get to your business.
Imagine that you are walking down a path through a forest to get to a bakery. You come to a clearing and there is a fork in the road. This is no ordinary fork in the road though. This fork has 12 different paths and each path has an ornate sign that describes a bakery at the end of it. Which path do you take? All paths and signs look similar, but one sign catches your eye that says "German Bakery". You decide to take this path until, a little bit down this path you come to another fork in the road, this time with 20 different paths, all with signs for bakeries. There are simply too many options! So how do you choose?
This is the same scenario that happens to billions of consumers every single day. In fact, the average human makes 35,000 decisions every day according to a study by Sahakian & Labuzetta, 2013. Another study by Adweek in 2014 found that 81% of consumers conduct brand, product, and service research online. That means that your customer journey is largely in the digital world.
A customer's journey is rarely simple, and many times involves up to 10 touchpoints. Here's what a customer journey may look like:
As illustrated, the customer starts with a Google Search and uses multiple touchpoints on their way to a conversion. The customer journey is rarely linear and at times, the customer may even take the same path multiple times or take some paths simultaneously.
Factors to Consider
Frequency is an important metric to keep an eye on when you're looking at the customer journey. Frequency is the number of times that a single person sees your messaging. This is an easy metric to see in most ad platforms such as Facebook. Within the platform, you can customize your column to show frequency or the average number of times that a single person saw your ad. It usually takes a frequency of 5 - 7 for a customer to convert, but can sometimes be as low as 3. This metric also tells you when an ad might be getting stale or if you've saturated a target audience. If frequencies start to get into the 10+ range with minimal conversions, that means that there is something wrong with the ad or your some other point in the customer's journey.
Sometimes, there can be issues with your social presence. Social presence is the sum of all of the social messaging you have for your brand, for example, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reviews can all be part of your social presence. According to Digital Marketing Magazine, 75% of consumers will consult a brand's social media before making a purchase decision. That means that your social presence is SUPER important, not just in the posting and messages, but also in the way that you interact with your audience. Engagement is one of the most important social cues that people notice in a brand. If you're not engaging your audience well, then that doesn't work in your favor, no matter how beautiful your content is. We wrote an article on how to engage people here.
It's always good to have a strong presence across all possible touchpoints. This includes all your social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.) and your website, your digital ads, your reviews (remember to reply back to reviews), and even your Google My Business page.
Make sure the messaging across different digital touchpoints is cohesive. You need Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and your Website to all look like they are the same brand! That means similar wording, colors, and logo. All of it should look unified. If you don't address this and different platforms look different, then your audience will get confused and never complete their customer journey.
Issues With the Customer Journey
The one glaring issue with customers using multiple platforms and touchpoints before making a purchase is that sometimes, a conversion can be counted twice. For example, a person sees your ad on Facebook, they click on the ad and bounce from the landing page. They then Google the information that was in your Facebook Ad. Let's say that you also have Google Ads running. Your Google Ad comes up when they search and they click on the Google Ad. That takes them to the same landing page as the Facebook Ad, but this time they purchase something from the site for $100. Google is now reporting a conversion for $100 and Facebook Ads are also reporting a conversion for $100. Now it looks like you've had 2 conversions, each for $100 so you're at $200.
This is obviously incorrect and there is no real fix (that we're aware of.) Why would someone Google something they just saw on Facebook? They'll Google it because things found on Google are perceived as more legitimate. As you're running campaigns across multiple platforms, it's important to keep in mind the possible customer journeys and double conversions that may happen due to multiple touchpoints.
The Customer Journey Takes TIME
The customer journey could take a few minutes, days, or sometimes weeks depending on the product or service. That's why conversion windows and attribution models are an important part of properly tracking customers on their journey.
The period of time after an ad interaction (such as an ad click or video view) during which a conversion, such as a purchase, is recorded in an ad platform such as Google Ads or Facebook Ads. We usually use a 30-day click, 1-day view conversion window for our ad campaigns.
The rule, or set of rules, that determines how credit for sales and conversions are assigned to touchpoints in conversion paths. We usually use Last-Click and Time-Decay in our campaigns. Different types of attribution models include:
First Interaction: Gives all credit for the conversion to the first-interacted touchpoint.
Last Interaction: Gives all credit for the conversion to the last-interacted touchpoint.
Linear: Distributes the credit for the conversion equally across all interactions on the path.
Time-Decay: Gives more credit to interactions that happened closer in time to the conversion. Credit is distributed using a 7-day half-life. In other words, an interaction 8 days before a conversion gets half as much credit as an interaction 1 day before a conversion.
Position-Based: Gives 40% of the credit to both the first and last interactions, with the remaining 20% spread out across the other interactions on the path.
Data-Driven: Distributes credit for the conversion based on your past data for this conversion action. It's different from the other models, in that it uses your account's data to calculate the actual contribution of each interaction across the conversion path.
When optimizing the customer journey, it's important to see the bigger picture and how all of your possible touchpoints may be influencing a potential customer. Remember to take a holistic strategy that aims to help the customer along their journey.
Josh and Aaron talk about The Customer Journey in this episode of Marketing Tip Tea Time at 2:22. Check it out!