The lesson here is that purchase journeys can be incredibly complex – far more so than many brands give them credit for. Digital marketers need to know how their target audiences behave online in order to be in the right place with the right message.
Just because the customer journey is complex, doesn’t mean it cannot be navigated.
There are big rewards for those brands that dedicate time and resources to understanding and optimising their digital customer journey.
Take the example above – through each of the various channels and 27 different steps of the journey, the retailer managed to hold onto the consumer and not lose them to the competition.
Your next steps
The first and most important step is to understand the journey your customers are taking. Once you have a handle on what the customer journey looks like, there are a few essential techniques to optimise your digital campaigns and ensure potential customers don’t slip through the cracks:
1. Review your attribution model
Marketing attribution is the process of dividing up the value of an online conversion and distributing fractions across the different touch points that led to the conversion.
If you’re running a last touch attribution model, you’re probably not evaluating channel performance correctly. Multi-touch, cross-device, cross channel attribution models are on the horizon but until they arrive, use data-driven attribution to track and value all touch points that led to the desired outcome.
2. Upgrade your Google Analytics
If you haven’t upgraded to Google’s Universal Analytics, do so now. While not perfect, it goes a long way to helping you measure success in today’s multi-screen, multi-device world.
3. Implement Google’s tools
While you’re there, implement Google Tag Manager and Google Display Network (GDN) reporting. Google Tag Manager consolidates your website tags with one snippet of code and lets you manage everything from a single web interface – and it’s free.
GDN impression-based reporting helps you see how your display impressions assist your conversion, giving a more complete view of the customer journey.
4. Get your analytics in order
If your analytics set-up is flaky, sort it out immediately. This means paying some much-needed attention to incomplete tagging, inaccurate goal data, and so on. Web analytics is the radar that you’re flying the plane by. Poor radar means you won’t get to your destination.
5. Focus on increasing relevant traffic
All channels play a part in the path to purchase. So while it’s a simple goal to shoot for, you need to drive as much relevant traffic as possible from all channels. Then, you can focus on channel-specific metrics for your SEM, SEO, retargeting, email, display, social, affiliate marketing and so on.
6. Tailor messages per channel
Once various channels are in play, you need to tailor the messages to users based on their stage in the decision process. The continually brilliant analytics evangelist Avinash Kaushik, provides a simple but incisive framework for messaging.
7. Be realistic with time
Consider the most appropriate look-back window based on the time lag data in Google Analytics. If you’re selling an expensive or high consideration product don’t be surprised to see long lags between first touch and conversion.
Whatever you do, don’t rely on luck.
Underestimating the complexity of the customer journey means you cannot possibly be hitting your targets with the right message in the right place at the right time. Unless you happen to be very lucky. You need to ensure your brand is there at the very moment the consumer is ready to buy – and that means being on multiple channels in tandem, with a relevant message. Get this right or get left behind.
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