How do your customers go from unaware of your product or service to being a (hopefully) happy customer? Understanding the journey that customers undergo is critical to understanding our own business. It helps us to see products and services through our customers’ eyes.

The customer journey is the combination of all experiences and interactions that they have with your brand on their road to making a purchase. To understand that journey is to gain insight into how your customers discover your business, what concerns they start with and develop throughout the process of learning about your products, and what marketing programs had the most impact on them throughout that journey.

Today, companies have more tools than ever to help them draw insights into the journeys that their customers take. They can use advanced multi-channel attribution to track customers across devices and channels and leverage historical customer and operations data to provide context and identify complex patterns in customers behavior that just wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago.

Before we jump into why customer journey analysis is so critical, let’s make sure that we have a full understanding of what customer journey analysis is.

What Is Customer Journey Analysis?

Many confuse customer journey analysis with customer journey mapping. While mapping is an important aspect of broader journey analysis, they are two distinctly separate activities. Customer journey analysis is a bigger concept, focused on analyzing all interactions that customers have with brand touchpoints throughout their journey. Because of changes in the way that customers interact with the brands they purchase from, mapping has taken a backseat to a broader analysis of customer journeys.

Customer journey analysis focuses on utilizing data from each interaction and combining it with information about its impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty, and their path to purchase. While previously, many of thee metrics would have been limited to their own data silos, customer journey analysis attempts to unite these metrics to create a complete picture. By 2020, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to the customer experience.

Ultimately, customer journey analysis must use attribution data to better understand the customer’s experience and connect pieces of their marketing strategy to the customer’s perception of value. In quantifying the contributions that each individual touchpoint made on their decision to purchase, you can eliminate waste in your marketing budget, time, and resources.

Tracking Yields Transparency Into How a Relationship Develops

To analyze customer journeys, you have to have reliable data regarding the different touch points that your customers interacted with throughout their journey toward becoming a paying customer. To miss a single touchpoint could throw a wrench in your understanding of their journey. Maybe that touchpoint that you are missing data for was the most influential touchpoint in all of their interactions with your brand. You can’t know unless you have confidence in your data.

But on a broader approach, the cumulative effect of regular customer journey analysis is that you develop a better understanding of how prospects develop a relationship with your brand. The transparent approach to tracking and understanding your interactions with customers provides insight into the materials that they interacted with that had an impact on their relationship with the company.

Modern Customer Journeys are Unique

Modern customer journeys are unique. In the old days of marketing, companies would try to direct customers down a set path toward purchase. The campaigns, messaging, and collateral that customers interacted with was pre-planned, designed to be consumed in succession as they walked the customer through the process of familiarizing themselves with the product. Interactions with customers were scripted. For that era, it worked. It was an optimizable process.

Today company’s don’t really have the luxury of defining the steps that a customer takes and the order in which they take them. Sure, some companies still try their best to define that process for the customer, and there is nothing wrong with giving the customer direction or taking them through the journey that you find to be most effective.

However, it’s impossible to ensure that any customer stays on the journey that you have laid out for them. There are too many channels and too many potential touchpoints. Customers may veer from your intended path for them at any time to conduct their own research.

Customers also have their own preferred channels. Through those channels, they may interact with your company directly, or turn to other sources for information such as online reviews or social media. Their preference and trust in their sources guides them. To try to define the path for them might actually push some customers away, rather than pulling them closer.       

Identify Gaps in Customer Experience Understanding

There is often some disconnect between the experience that a company thinks that it is providing and the actual experience that a customer has. The top-down view that attribution and proper tracking provide allow you to better understand customers’ goals and understand what they enjoy about the process and what leaves them frustrated when working with your company.

Today 89% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a consistent experience. Among companies that heed that warning, 84% of organizations that work to improve customer experiences report an increase in revenue.Without that complete view of their journey, it’s difficult to fully understand where these high impact points (both positive and negative) lie.

These experiences represent an opportunity for improvement. Positive high-impact moments can be leveraged and adopted in other programs, pathways, and funnels to improve conversion rates. Negative experiences can be identified and remedied while providing insight into other similar moments of frustration that customers might encounter throughout their journey.

The truth is that there is always a difference between the experience that companies believe their customers are having and how the customer’s themselves see it. Attribution and customer journey analysis allows us to better align our internal understanding of customer experiences with reality and work to improve those experiences over time.

Attribution Aggregates Journeys to Find Common Pathways

To improve customer experiences you have to track customer journeys in full. If a prospect begins their journey through one channel before moving onto others with many touchpoints along the way, there is a good chance that their journey was completely unique, different from every other customer that has come through your pipeline.

LeadsRx’s multi-channel attribution platform tracks your customers as they interact with your company at every touchpoint, both online and offline. Then, our detailed analytics provide a broader context to those interactions, fueling your customer journey analysis.

Because every customer journey is unique, it’s important to have this broad view so you can determine which marketing programs are having the most impact on their purchasing decisions and which programs are not. Understanding the sequences of events that lead to customers having a positive result is critical for shoring up other areas of your marketing operation.

No two customers take the same journey. You can’t directly analyze their journeys side-by-side. Instead, look at trends and commonalities between journeys. Finding common pathways (a string of touchpoints that customers commonly interact with) and touchpoints that play a role in a higher percentage of successful customer journeys allows you to better optimize your marketing budgets and strategies to maximize their effectiveness.

Analysis Helps Us Optimize Strategies and Budgets

When you are able to identify pathways and touchpoints that lead to sales you have the ability to optimize your marketing programs and individual campaigns. Let’s say that, for instance, customers that interact with a specific touchpoint after coming into your retail location were twice as likely to buy from you as customers that did not. You could then find other opportunities to connect prospects with that touchpoint and see if the same effect is observed in different pathways.

During the customer journey analysis process — you won’t just be able to identify the programs that are working — you’ll also be able to discern which programs aren’t working. In scaling back those programs (or completely cutting them from your strategies), you can optimize your marketing budget to focus on the programs that generate the most measurable revenue for your business.  Proper customer journey analysis allows you to cut costs by decreasing wastes and reducing review times on important decisions by providing clear, actionable, data-backed insights.

Unique Customer Journeys Require Innovative Approaches

With every customer having such a unique journey on their way to becoming a customer, the days of “mapping” the customer journey are behind us. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a lot of value in analyzing the customer journey. Instead, companies must focus on trends and data-backed similarities in the journeys they observe to draw conclusions and optimize their marketing programs.