As a business, you are constantly on the lookout for ways to better understand your customers. From purchase decisions to customer service interactions, understanding the entire customer journey is essential to growing your business.
Customer journeys are often talked about in broad, vague terms. However, your business can use many data-driven insights to better understand customers, , how to best serve them, and how to drive more revenue.
Our complete guide will provide all the information you need on customer journey analytics and how to use them in your business.
What is a customer journey?
A customer journey, or user journey, is a series of steps that a customer performs to accomplish a goal. That goal might translate to a positive business outcome, such as a completed purchase, or it might be negative, such as cart abandonment or a cancelled subscription. Regardless of the “destination”, each step serves as a checkpoint that marks the customer’s progress and asks them to choose whether they’ll continue on that particular journey.
Customer journeys are typically split into 5 stages:
- Awareness: The customer becomes aware of the existence of a brand or product. This may be achieved through marketing, word-of-mouth or sheer chance, such as stumbling across a product in a store.
- Consideration: The customer recognises they have a need or pain point, and that the product or brand in question can address it. They weigh up their options, and will likely research alternatives.
- Decision: The customer concludes whether or not they will purchase the product.
- Retention: The customer has purchased a product or solution, and is sufficiently satisfied that they choose to remain with the business, rather than shifting to an alternative.
- Advocacy: The customer develops loyalty to the brand and shares positive feedback with their peers. This builds word-of-mouth around the business.
Although customer journeys certainly play out in the brick-and-mortar world, the concept is perhaps most useful in a digital context. This is because digital customer interactions provide quantifiable data that we can monitor and analyse.
It would be a little odd to have someone following customers around a retail store and taking notes whenever they glanced at an item, picked it up, or placed it in their cart. With e-commerce customers, similar data on the product consideration process can be collected easily and non-invasively.
What are customer journey analytics?
“Customer journey analytics” refers to the technology and methods that identify, track, understand, and influence customer journeys. By collecting and analysing data on how customers move through various checkpoints, we can identify opportunities to shape their journeys, guiding them toward positive outcomes and helping them avoid or resolve the frustrating scenarios that lead to lost revenue.
In the case of an e-commerce website, for example, customer journey analytics can help us answer questions like:
- Where do customers tend to drop off in the checkout process?
- How many products does the average customer consider before adding to their cart?
- To which campaign landing pages should we attribute the most completed purchases?
- Do dynamic interventions such as discount code pop-ups reduce cart abandonment?
- Are customers more likely to purchase after viewing informational pages, such as the company blog or About page?
- Are customers more likely to purchase after chatting with a customer service representative?
What is a customer journey map?
In order to understand how customers are going through the process of interacting with your business, you must first understand that journey yourself. That’s where customer journey mapping comes in.
Customer journey mapping is a process of understanding the various touchpoints your customers go through as they interact with your business. These touchpoints can include first becoming aware of your business to completing a transaction to terminating the relationship – for example, by cancelling a subscription.
One approach to customer journey mapping is to group particular moments into the customer journey stages. This can help various departments to know where exactly the customer is on the journey when they interact with them.
However you choose to structure your customer journey map, it should help your business to understand what your customers are thinking and feeling as they interact with your brand and product. It will highlight the key touchpoints that you can leverage to secure profitable and long-term relationships with customers.
Customer journey mapping vs customer journey analytics
Customer journey mapping and customer journey analytics are similar but distinct processes. You should use your customer journey maps as starting points for tracking customer journey analytics.
Customer journey maps provide a broad scope for better understanding your customers and their pain points. They are also excellent templates for case studies.
Customer journey analytics are pieces of data that can be brought together to paint an empirical picture of your customer journeys. Mapping and analytics work side-by-side to provide a holistic picture of your customer journeys.
Benefits of customer journey analytics
There’s no shortage of benefits when it comes to customer journey analytics. Some of the key gains you can enjoy from tracking customer journey analytics are:
Reduce customer churn
Customer journey analytics amplifies your understanding of your customers’ behaviour. For many businesses, a critical focus is placed on customer churn, or the rate at which customers stop using a business’ product or services.
Let’s say you are running a subscription-based SaaS business. A comprehensive customer journey analytics solution will enable you to examine the touchpoints that lead up to a customer cancelling their subscription. For example, if your customer had an interaction with your customer service team prior to cancellation, it’s certainly worth using analytics to deeply understand their experience.
Knowledge is power, and with this information, you can bring down your customer churn and drive sustained revenue for your business.
Better understanding of customers
Once you’ve collected your customer journey analytics and brought them together, you’ll end up with a much stronger understanding of your customers and how they behave in relation to your business. This is much more significant than simply, for example, driving on-page conversions.
Gaining a stronger understanding of your customers can totally transform everything from your marketing strategies to your products themselves.
Chances are, everyone in your business has their own opinion about how to most effectively nurture customers and attract new ones. While it’s great to get ideas from an array of individuals with their own skill sets and experience, customer journey analytics bring cold, hard data to the table.
Customer journey analytics can indicate everything from which pages on your website are most likely to lead to sales, to how interactions with your customer service team impact customer behaviour. This data will transform the way your business thinks about and handles customers.
Predicts customer behaviour
There is so much you can learn from your past and current customers. Collecting your customer journey analytics enables you to better understand the behaviour of future customers, and optimise your operations accordingly.
Understanding your current customers means understanding your future customers. This allows you to prepare your brand and your overall customer journey to meet their needs and provide them with the best possible products and services, increasing customer satisfaction on an ongoing basis.
In many ways, your customers know your website and product better than you do. Conducting a deep dive into customer journey analytics will likely highlight some weak points in your website. This enables teams such as your web development team to uncover new issues with your website or other areas of customer experience.
How to track customer journey analytics
Creating a customer journey analytics strategy can be overwhelming, especially if it’s a field your business has little experience in monitoring. Thankfully, there are simple, actionable steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of successfully tracking this data.
These are the initial steps you’ll need to take to begin tracking customer journey analytics:
Create a customer journey map
If you don’t already have a customer journey map in place, it is very useful to create one before you begin collecting customer journey analytics. If you don’t know where to start, stick with the 5 main stages of the customer journey.
Elaborate on each of them and consider them within the specific context of your business. If necessary, conduct customer interviews to gain a greater understanding of each stage of the journey.
As you collect your customer journey analytics, you will update and refine this map. However, you need at least a draft form of your map to get the best results from your customer journey analytics.
Choose the journeys you want to analyse
Customers can arrive on your website with myriad different goals, and there are an almost infinite number of paths any customer could take to arrive at a given destination. How can you hone in on the customer data most immediately relevant to your business?
It’s often best to start small. Pick just one or two paths to monitor, and make sure you’ve put the right tools and processes in place before scaling up. When deciding exactly where to start, consider your larger business goals.
If you’re working to generate excitement around a new product line, for example, you could start by tracking interactions that originate from ads and landing pages for that particular product. If your focus is reducing cart abandonment, monitor the interactions that lead up to checkout.
Select your analytics tools
You’ll need a good technical solution in place for capturing, storing, and visualising interaction data along your key journeys. Some top tools in the space include:
- Insider: Insider is considered a leader in the customer journey analytics space. In addition to collecting customer journey analytics, Insider also helps to optimise customer experience through insights obtained within the platform.
- HubSpot: If customer journey mapping is a central part of your business strategy, HubSpot is an excellent piece of customer journey analytics software for you. It helps you to easily produce journey reports and maps to more concretely understand your customer experience.
- Adobe Journey Optimizer: As with many other pieces of Adobe software, Adobe Journey Optimizer is a powerful and well-reviewed tool in the industry. Built on Adobe Experience Platform, it includes bells and whistles such as AI and machine learning insights as well as automated report distribution.
Set up tracking
Usually, this will involve adding analytics tags to your website or app, which will send data back to your analytics tool when customers complete certain interactions. Check out our complete guide to tag management for more information.
To ensure the proper function of your analytics tracking tags, consider the use of tag auditing systems such as DataTrue. An all-in-one enterprise solution, DataTrue ensures your tags are functioning properly and quickly alerts you when they are not. It even has built-in functionality for monitoring user journeys. Find out more about web analytics testing with DataTrue.
Ensure you are compliant
The use of customer data by businesses is a hot-button issue around the globe. Businesses have an ethical obligation to ensure that customer data is collected and used responsibly and transparently. It is equally important to ensure that data is stored and sent securely.
Making the necessary technical preparations to ensure compliance in this area can be difficult. There are also various personally identifiable information (PII) laws around the world to be aware of and abide by. Some of the most significant include the General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act.
Remember to ensure you comply with these regulations from the outset of your customer journey analytics data collection. This approach benefits your business operations while also serving your customers.
<H2> Leveraging customer journey analytics
With your data successfully collected, you must now take steps to action your findings. The following steps provide the perfect starting point for incorporating your newfound analytics into your ongoing business operations.
After you’ve collected sufficient data, conduct a review with your team. Can you identify drop-off points, cart abandonment triggers, or other issues to address? Do you need more information to make decisions and start optimising?
You will examine these issues more deeply later on, but it’s helpful to conduct this initial analysis early in the process.
Update your customer journey map
You now have plenty of data with which to reconfigure your customer journey map. Align your data to the appropriate sections of your customer journey map. You may quickly discover particular areas of your map that need special attention.
For example, if you discover a subset of customers arriving on your website but failing to convert, it may be relevant to add this to the “Consideration” section of your map. You now have a specific area to focus on in your action plan.
Add more tracking
After your analysis has been conducted and added to your map, you will probably find some glaring holes in your strategy. For example, if you’ve decided to eschew data collection about cart abandonment, you might find yourself lacking insights on the “Decision” section of your customer journey map.
That’s fine. Data collection is an iterative, ever-evolving process. As you go through this process, you’ll always find new areas to focus on. Be sure to set a regular cadence to review and add to your tracking processes.
Create an action plan
Your customer journey analytics insights will be far-reaching, and your action plan should be, too. Once you have developed a comprehensive set of data from which to work, bring your team together for a lengthy session on how to proceed.
After this larger meeting, your teams can split off individually and go about implementing your action plan.
Monitor your tracking solution.
As you scale up your customer journey analytics efforts, don’t just assume that data will keep flowing in without a hitch! Back up your tracking with a good data assurance platform to ensure that your analytics tags remain in place, correctly formatted, and firing consistently even as your website or app evolves.
Understanding the paths your customers take to discover, consider, purchase, and use your products and services is one of the best things you can do for your business. So, get out there and get tracking — the journey awaits!
Optimise your customer journey analytics with DataTrue
Data is one of the most valuable assets for any business. If you’re planning to add new forms of data collection to your website, it’s crucial that your data is accurate and reliable.
Utilising tag management systems like DataTrue from the outset of your implementation of customer journey analytics is an excellent way to provide peace of mind and ensure accuracy. With a toolset including web analytics testing, sensitive data leak alerts and more, make sure DataTrue is part of your customer journey analytics arsenal.
Book a demo today and find out how DataTrue can help to optimise your customer journey analytics.
Get started with a tag audit on your site pages with a free DataTrue Tag Audit.