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What is a digital customer journey?

Last updated

22 May 2023

Author

Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Jean Kaluza

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Prioritizing customers is a basic requirement for a successful business. Customers are vital for any business, and when they have a streamlined experience with your brand, you can reduce churn rates and maximize revenue. 

Learn the definition of the digital customer journey and why it’s crucial for your product in this comprehensive guide. 

What is a digital customer journey?

The digital buyer or customer journey encompasses all of a customer’s interactions with your company, from discovery to purchase.

It consists of all the interactions across all online brand channels and touchpoints, including: 

  • The company's website

  • Mobile applications

  • Live chat

  • Social media channels

  • SMS messaging

These interactions influence their purchasing experience. 

Why analyze your digital customer journey?

Since a digital customer journey guides the customer to purchase, analyzing it will enable you to offer a seamless shopping experience. 

You should also analyze your digital customer journey to: 

  • Understand customer needs and expectations

  • Proactively detect friction points that are challenging a seamless customer experience

  • Gain insights into adjusting your marketing efforts for better results

The different stages of the digital customer journey 

The stages of a buyer's journey vary by business and customer. However, when a customer embarks on purchasing a product or service, they go through these five distinct phases:

Awareness: The discovery phase

Here, customers are at the start of the buyer lifecycle. This is where customers discover their problems and seek solutions to these pain points. They have a goal in mind and need to find a solution. 

During this phase, customers become aware of your brand's existence and the products you sell. Brand awareness can span multiple channels, such as: 

  • Word of mouth

  • Social media

  • Brand advocates

  • Email marketing

  • Search engine suggestions

  • Affiliate marketing

As a business, good branding and a solid social media presence are essential to capture the audience's attention. 

With a digital customer journey, you have stronger control over your marketing campaigns than the traditional customer journey.

Consideration: The evaluation phase 

This is the stage where customers have done enough research and are now evaluating the different brands and their offers. The customer is aware of your brand and may start evaluating whether you can solve their problem. 

When a customer is dissatisfied with a brand’s offerings, they move on to one that delivers a seamless experience. 

During the evaluation phase, customers: 

  • Visit various company websites

  • Review platforms

  • Watch product videos to choose the best solution

  • Read in-depth case studies and reviews

Customers who are satisfied with your company will sign up for a free trial. A brand has a lot of control at this stage, so ensure that you demonstrate how you can solve their problem. 

Decision: The selection phase

This is the final stage of the digital customer journey. The customer selects a brand they want to proceed with and make their purchase. 

Some content to promote at this stage is free demos, consultations, and product promotions to demonstrate an advantage over your competitors.

Retention: Turning users into regulars

A common problem is ensuring stickiness to your product: Companies can achieve high logins and subscriptions but fail anyway. Preventing this requires learning what keeps their users from returning. 

Meta used “Facebook friends” to retain users, which was instrumental in achieving its lofty goals. The company learned that a new Facebook user with five friends was much more likely to log in regularly. 

Advocacy: The promoting phase

What could become the most vital stage to achieve is the advocacy phase. Here, a company can cultivate a more effortless marketing cycle. 

During the advocacy stage, users become champions of your product without prompt or incentive, referring their friends and peers. This obviously saves valuable marketing dollars, organically shuffling in primed users to your discovery phase. 

Amazon uses a version of the buyer’s phases known as The Product-Led Growth Flywheel, which it refers to as the virtuous cycle. 

The Flywheel encapsulates existing metrics and structures from marketing and product to achieve organic growth exponentially by cultivating champions that do your marketing work for you.

What is a digital customer journey map?

A digital customer journey map visually depicts a customer's interaction with a brand. 

This visual representation gives a narrative of a customer's steps, from initial engagement with a brand to the last stage of purchasing a service or product. 

It comprises: 

  • Consumer data

  • Transaction information

  • Customer service interactions

  • Cross-device browsing history

A digital customer journey map provides insight into what motivates customers to purchase and their pain points when interacting with various touchpoints. 

What are the benefits of customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping involves developing a customer journey. The goal is to map out the customer's actions at each touchpoint. 

Customer journey mapping has endless benefits, including:

A deeper understanding of your customers

Customer journey mapping gives you a holistic view of all customers interacting with your brand. 

It allows you to understand their varying characteristics and purchasing behaviors. This enables a company to tailor its products. 

With customer personas, your brand can better address their needs and wants. 

Curating a unique customer experience

Journey mapping provides a perspective of the customer's experience, and you learn how to structure your processes to encourage more customer purchases. 

Since customer demands are growing, digital journeys are becoming vital in how companies engage with customers. It allows companies to improve their customers' interactions over digital channels. 

Growth of business revenue

Knowing your customers' pain points positions you to offer solutions to their problems, so you can boost sales and increase revenue in the long run. 

Improving touchpoints will boost the customer onboarding process, building new revenue. 

Reducing operational costs

When you know more about your customers, forming a strategy is clearer and cheaper. Understanding their demographics means you’re less likely to spend money everywhere. For example, knowing your customers aren’t on Facebook can save your ad campaign budget. 

Sometimes customers have basic questions that bots can handle. Leveraging live chatbots can reduce the cost of hiring real agents to interact with your customers.

With personalized market campaigns, the marketing team knows what to communicate and when. This allows the company to optimize the return on market investments. 

Creating your digital customer journey map

Here is a brief guide to mapping your digital customer journey:

Step 1: Conduct customer research

You create a digital customer journey map using data from primary research. Collecting and analyzing target audience data is vital to making customer-centric decisions. 

To ensure you have reliable information, conduct focus groups, in-person interviews, and brainstorming workshops.

Step 2: Design a buyer persona

With the collected research data, create buyer personas. A buyer persona is a profile of your ideal customer where you consider their characteristics and behaviors, such as demographics. 

As you design a digital customer journey map, account for different customer needs and expectations for your personas. These personas allow you to understand your customers better, including their motivations, challenges, needs, and what they need you to solve.

Step 3: Leverage the power of personalization 

Option overload is an issue as brands compete for consumers' attention. 

Personalizing the customer experience allows you to stand out and tailor products to their needs. With personalization, you can display appropriate messages to target personas instead of wasting resources. 

Step 4: Define the stages of a digital customer journey

The next step is to determine the actions that will lead your customers to conclude a purchase. 

Consider the customer's perspective, thoughts, emotions, pain points, and goals for each stage. This will help you understand what each customer is struggling with and trying to accomplish. 

Step 5: Outline all your touchpoints with the target audience

Touchpoints are where prospective customers interact with your brand. 

They can include:

  • Websites

  • Blogs

  • Social media profiles

  • Ads

  • Ebooks

  • YouTube videos

  • Chatbots

First, list all the touchpoints and evaluate how each fits your customer's journey. Remember that touchpoints differ from one buyer persona to another depending on their customer journey map

Outlining the touchpoints allows you to assess which is most crucial in their purchasing process. 

Next, optimize each touchpoint for customer onboarding and conversion. 

If you’re unsure, use web analytics to identify traffic sources. 

Step 6: Align your touchpoints to offer a seamless customer experience

Once you’ve defined the customer touchpoints and the main stages in a customer journey, put it all together. 

Create a well-organized digital customer journey map to guide buyers from start to end. 

Step 7: Update customer journey maps frequently

A customer journey map is an ongoing investment as changes often occur. 

Once you’ve mapped out a digital customer journey, identify gaps and ways to improve customer satisfaction

To achieve this, frequently collect customer feedback and use it as a foundation for improvements.

You can also experience the customer journey yourself: Walk through all the stages while noting any obstacles you encounter. 

Here are some questions to get you started as you review your customer journey:

  • Was the purchasing process easy?

  • How easy was it to get in touch with customer care?

  • Was the agent helpful?

  • Is the whole exercise time-consuming?

  • Is the information at the different stages relevant?

  • How should you deliver a seamless customer experience?

Digital customer journey examples

Here are two examples of digital customer journeys:

Example one: Repairing a broken car

During the awareness stage, the car owner knows the car is unfit for driving, so they must fix it. 

They search for a mechanic and may look for customer testimonials from previous customers of nearby garages. 

During the consideration stage, the client has various solutions and seeks the best option to solve their issue. 

Next, the customer will compare garages offering specific repair services before identifying one with the best reviews or a successful track record. 

Once the customer settles on a garage that offers repair services, they will interact with the mechanic and begin repair negotiations. 

Example 2: Booking of an airplane ticket

In this example, the customer's journey begins when they realize they need to travel. 

At the awareness stage, the customer will conduct online research on airlines and routes to their destinations. They may come across the airline via social media channels, advertisements, or even referrals from friends. 

Once they list all the airline brands, the customer will consider the available flights and decide which best fits their needs. 

On the other side, airlines try to upsell additional services to appeal to customers. Therefore, customers may consider airlines that upsell services such as priority onboarding or upgraded seats. 

Depending on their spending limits or airlines with better offerings, customers will compare the flight options that best suit their budget. They abandon tickets outside their means. 

The decision stage ends when the customers purchase a ticket and receive an onboarding pass, travel information, and guides via email.

FAQs

Who is involved in a digital customer journey?

A digital customer journey is a process a user (potential customer) goes through when interacting with a brand.

What are the four types of digital users?

The four types of digital users are explorers, socializers, achievers, and listeners. 

Which department is responsible for the customer journey? 

Sales and marketing departments play a vital role in optimizing a customer journey map. 

Should you be using a customer insights hub?

Do you want to discover previous user research faster?

Do you share your user research findings with others?

Do you analyze user research data?

Start for free today, add your research, and get to key insights faster

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