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Mapping Consumer Experience in a Complex Digital World

The style and layout of banners, the text used in emails, the design of your landing page, the relevance of your offering - all these element must work together if a truly engaging digital experience is to be had. 

But alas, the digital landscape is constantly changing. New devices (like mobile phone watches) and new forms of targeting (like ‘Custom Audience’ adverts on Facebook) are seemingly invented every second day. On top of this consumers are demanding a tighter, more seamless experience across multiple channels. This complex digital landscape can make the humble marketer a little fuzzy in the head at the best of times! Fortunately this challenge comes with a great incentive – the opportunity to niche-target and connect with (and get feedback from) customers on a scale not seen before.

Understanding your customer’s experience will help you make the most of these opportunities. The question is how? Journey mapping is a great place to start.

As we are now working in the labyrinth of digital marketing, mapping a customer’s journey to purchase can potentially go in many directions, which is exactly why it’s worth doing. Here’s why…

Journey mapping helps you understand what your customers both need and want on their path to purchase (that is, in addition to the actual product or service you are offering).

“Mapping identifies improvement opportunities by exposing limitations and develops a holistic view of customer behaviour and expectations across every business function.”[1]

Here are 5 questions every digital marketer should ask when mapping a customer’s purchase journey…

1. How do our digital touch-points shape up?

To start with it’s good practice to identify the various touch-points or areas the customer interacts with across all departments – be that online sales, digital marketing, customer support, in-store service etc. Identify any points of weaknesses in each department that may affect how your customer relates to the brand in the digital sphere. Don’t be afraid to go there – regardless of whether you pick it up or not the weak spots are there. It’s only by exposing the faults that we can work towards mending them. Just as important is identifying where your strengths lie. Knowing why these are strengths can help you build on them and possibly transfer them to other areas of the business.

2. What’s our story?

What message are you trying to convey to the customer? What narrative do you want your customers to have about you? Is it professional and slick? Playful and youthful? Cutting-edge? High-end? Trustworthy? Cheap and cheerful? Whatever it is know why you deserve the tag and how you intend to live it out in an online world.

3. What is the first thing a customer experiences?

First impressions count - especially online. You don’t have much time to get the attention of your target market so make sure you’re clear about what it is you want to portray. Ask yourself: when our customers first interact with our brand what is it they see/feel/hear/desire? Collect data from the customers themselves rather than relying on your team’s personal viewpoints. As valuable as these can be it’s best to hear it from the horse’s mouth right? So get customer-centric and ask: “what would our digital customers do?” at every step in their purchase journey.

4. Is interacting with your brand a simple and seamless process?

Be that with the payment methods offered online or to find contact details. If the whole experience is user friendly – that is, easy for the customer to find and do what they want – then you avoid the obstacles that may otherwise disengage them. So be slick and don’t over complicate the process. It’s also good to address technical issues like: can your creative be viewed and interacted with on all major devices? We all know how annoying it is to be enticed by a great deal and then not be able to open the web link. It’s a total turn off and customers are likely to give up pretty quickly if they’re just browsing on the train home from work. The big brands know this. You can order an iPad air with personal engraving, cover and gift-wrapping (complete with personal message in a card) from Apple online in 5 minutes. Sure, it’s a good product but the personal touch and ease of purchase confirm subconsciously that you’ve made a good decision. Plus, the pleasant experience leaves you with trust and confidence in the brand.

5. What’s your end game?

Increased sales and loyal customers are going to feature in there somewhere but think about what you want from each specific campaign or activity you are delivering. Do you want a sign up or just traffic? The creative, the message… in fact, the entire journey should reflect this.  

Tools to assist Journey Mapping

Google have created a nifty tool to help marketers decipher how different marketing channels affect online purchase decisions. There are benchmarks to help you understand the role each channel plays – and how the channels interact with each other – so that you can better plan when and where to focus your efforts.  Tap The Customer Journey to Online Purchase to have a play.

Mobile in the Purchase Journey is another Google gift. This interactive tool looks at research collected from all over the world (so you can get country specific with the data) and covers four broad industries. We are living in a multi-screen world and mobile is the leading character so it’s a good idea to check this one out. This tool provides answers to questions like ‘When do customers start researching?’ and ‘How is online research related to purchase?’

By: James Huse, Senior Account Manager, ContactAbility

[1] Jeremy Mugridge, Follow the Customer Map: The Importance of Customer Journey Mapping, Digital Marketing Magazine, viewed 2.6.2015



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