July 14

Understanding the Digital Purchase Journey

Think back to the last time you bought something online.

How did it go? Did you simply go to the first website you searched and load up the product page and hit ‘Add to Cart’? Probably not. We’d bet you spent a good chunk of time on Google looking at products, researching alternatives, reading reviews and bouncing around while trying to make your decision.

All that bouncing around is your Digital Purchase Journey, and it’s more important than ever for marketers to take a hard look at their own customers’ journeys. The more you know about what your customers want and their purchase motivations, the stronger your marketing campaigns and the better equipped you’ll be to turn casual site visitors into hardcore fans!

What is the digital purchase journey?

The Digital Purchase Journey tells the story of how people get from knowing nothing about your brand to being loyal customers. The journey includes every interaction you have with a customer. So, instead of just looking at customer actions individually (like targeting them with a marketing cookie after they make a purchase), the digital journey documents the whole process from the customer’s perspective.

The concept of the purchase journey has been around for a long time now, but the internet and ecommerce have made it much more complex. Thanks to social media, Google ads and easy access to the information they want, customers often follow digital purchase journeys that include dozens of separate touchpoints. Researching and mapping your customers’ purchase journey is the key to designing effective marketing campaigns for the digital age.

The 5 stages of the digital purchase journey

In most cases the digital purchase journey can be broken down into 5 stages:

  1. Awareness. This is your chance to make a great first impression! The first stage of the cycle is where people become aware of your brand (like through paid ads, word of mouth or social media).
  2. Consideration. Once they’re aware, customers begin considering your products. It’s at this point that customers usually find their way to your website and start engaging with your content.
  3. Fulfilment. Fulfilment looks a little different to each business. Sometimes it means a straightforward purchase, but for others it could mean signing up for email updates or calling your business.
  4. Experience. The follow-through is just as important as the fulfilment. Are customers satisfied with their overall experience? The experience stage also includes customer service and after-purchase support.
  5. Advocacy. In an ideal world, the customer had a great experience and wants to tell their friends about you! The advocacy step feeds back into the start of the cycle by making new people aware of your business.

The actual journey your customers take won’t be as simple as these 5 steps. In fact, research from Attention Experts shows that it can take between 15-20 brand touchpoints to get your products to the front of a customer’s mind. There are no hard rules of course, but there can be dozens of touchpoints with customers bouncing back and forth between searching for information, making decisions and taking action. The digital purchase journey includes each of these individual moments. 

Mapping the journey your customers are taking

Mapping the purchase journey is one of the best things you can do for your digital marketing strategy. 

The important thing to understand here is that you have no control over the purchase journey. Your customers are trying to satisfy their own purchasing needs, and you can’t decide where, when or how they interact with your brand. The goal is simply to map the customer purchase journey and use that information to build a stronger marketing strategy across every channel.

There are 5 basic steps to mapping out a customer purchase journey:

  1. Define who your customers are and why they’re making the purchase journey. The more you know about your audience and their motivations, the stronger your targeting, customer experience and marketing strategies are.
  2. Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes to figure out what they want, how they search and how they interact with your brand. You also want to think about their emotions and motivations at every point of the process.
  3. Make a list of the touchpoints and interactions customers are having with your brand. Cast a wide net here and make sure to capture touchpoints that happen on all platforms, like through different social media channels, via email and on your website.
  4. Figure out the pain points in the journey. Do people find what they’re looking for when they visit your website? Do your social media ads link to effective landing pages? Figure out where things are going wrong or not working as well as they should.
  5. Tie the purchase journey to your marketing funnel. Match each touchpoint to its spot in your marketing funnel so you know where to look when you’re ready to make improvements.

Getting into your customers’ heads is the simplest way of creating a purchase journey map. Some marketers use more sophisticated tech (including tools that record the customer’s point of view) but you don’t need to spend big money to get useful information.

The benefits of mapping your purchase journey

Understanding your customers’ digital purchase journey is more important than ever. The internet has made customer journeys far more complex, and getting more from your marketing budget means spending it in the right places.

Mapping the digital purchase journey isn’t just a way of figuring out what your customers want, it delivers huge benefits you should be taking advantage of:

  • Predicting customer behaviour. Knowing more about your customers’ needs, wants and feelings makes it easier for you to predict how they’ll act and influence their behaviour.
  • Improving your marketing funnels. The best marketing funnels are the ones that are constantly being optimised. The more you understand about the purchase journey, the more info you have to tweak and upgrade your marketing funnels.
  • Developing better content. Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes and you’re bound to find gaps that need filling. Take a look at your website content and figure out whether you’re giving out the right information to encourage people to move along the customer journey smoothly.
  • Improving customer experience. Customer experience is all about listening to what your customers want and making their journey seamless. The smoother it is to become your customer, the more likely you are to make a conversion. Customer journeys provide plenty of info to make improvements to your customer experience and figure out where the bumps in the road are.

Ultimately, the goal of mapping the purchase journey is to figure out where and how you can make improvements. The more seamless the experience, the more likely a person is to buy your products and become a loyal customer.

Map out your digital purchase journey with the team from Gordon Digital!

Designing high performing marketing campaigns can’t be done without an in-depth understanding of your customers. You need to know who they are and what they want if you ever hope to connect with them! Mapping out their digital purchase journey is one of the best ways to improve your strategies and deliver the marketing returns you’re hoping to see! The team at Gordon Digital are experts in the digital marketing world, and we can help track and manage your digital purchase journey to ensure you’re getting the most from your budget.

If you’d like to work with us then don’t hesitate to get in touch! We’d love to hear from you and find out more about how we can help your business kick its goals.

about the author

Jessica Gordon