What is the customer journey? What it’s for and how to create your map (with examples)

Think about this example of the process that your clients may follow before buying a laptop:

  • They ask friends and acquaintances, and Google.
  • They read reviews, different blog posts, and watch a few YouTube videos.
  • They start seeing laptop ads on their social media.
  • They go to Amazon to check the technical specifications, opinions, and other clients’ reviews.
  • They go to a physical shop to check out the prices and guarantees.
  • They compare the offers from several e-commerce shops and even add the laptop to their shopping cart to “check back later”, which they later abandon.
  • And then, finally, they decide to it from your online shop.

It’s been a long journey, but you got the sale in the end. But they don’t all end up buying, do they?

In this post we explain what the customer journey for e-commerce is.

In other words, the tool that will make you better understand how customers buy so that you can improve your sales process.

Customer journey or how to (subtly) guide customers to make a purchase 😉

Let’s start with the definition:

The customer journey is the path followed by a person while they are in the process of buying a product.

Think about all the steps that we mentioned before about buying a laptop. That’s a customer journey.

Before making the decision, potential clients would have to look for information, ask other people about it and compare. All that information will make them feel confident about having found the best option, which is the confidence they need to click the “buy” button.

But how is this useful?

You may be thinking, “Great, this is nice, but how is this going to help me sell more?”

Believe or not, it’ll be of great help.

By understanding what stages clients go through before they buy something, you can optimize your strategy to generate more sales.

If you are familiar with the sales funnel concept, you’ll see the similarities. In this case, we’re analyzing the process from the client’s perspective.

Don’t worry if you still don’t quite understand it – we’ll clear things up with some practical examples about what the customer or buyer journey is.

Recommended post

>>The e-commerce conversion funnel: what it is and how to optimize it to improve and increase sales

Customer journey phases in e-commerce: (almost) everything clients do before buying

Reading a post on their phone while waiting for the bus.

Listening to a podcast episode on the tablet.

Comparing models on their computer.

Client may take weeks to complete a purchase and they often use several different devices (with mobile phones already being a key component of sales, as this Google study proved).

That’s why we’re now going to describe the different stages and how you can optimize your strategy to sell more.

And all this with practical examples. 😉

1. Discovery/Attraction

Clients start thinking that they have a problem and begin to look for information to better understand the options they have.

Let’s go back to the laptop example.

Perhaps some parents realize they need to get a new computer for their daughter because she’s been complaining about how slow hers is and how she can’t complete university tasks because of that.

They need to buy a new computer, but which one?

Then they start looking for options on Google with terms (that we call keywords) such as:

  • What laptop should I choose?
  • How to buy a laptop
  • Differences between a laptop and a notebook
  • And other similar phrases

But what does it all mean?

If you sell laptops, you need to have post that includes all those keywords so that when those parents look for information, they end up at your shop.

But not everything is about posts, is it?

The following are also quite important:

What can you do in this regard?

So, at this point, those parents have already decided that they want a laptop and they have read up on the characteristics it should have.

That means it’s time for phase II.

2. Selection/Consideration

This is when potential customers start carrying out more detailed research about what to buy:

  • They ask their friends.
  • They consult some forums.
  • They read reviews.
  • They read comparisons.
  • And on, and on, and on…

That is to say, they look for more specific and transactional information (with a higher buying intention). This is what we call “hot lead” in marketing language – they are close to making the purchase.

How can you optimize your e-commerce at this point?

  • Create the content that we have just mentioned.
  • Offer items such as free trials or demos.
  • Add this type of information into your email marketing strategy (though that requires rather good segmentation).

This goal of this stage is to help the client understand which option is best for them so that they feel confident about what they’re buying.

3. Purchase decision

You’ve shown them different types of laptops, the characteristics they need to have depending on its intended use, and the pros and cons of different models.

So what’s missing?

Just that last push to get them over the purchase line.

But also:

All of these things will help to increase your online shop’ conversion bit by bit. 😉

4. Loyalty and recommendations

We’ve mentioned it plenty of times: it’s more profitable to keep a customer than to get a new one.

When clients buy from you and are satisfied, they are more likely to buy again than a person who doesn’t know your shop.

How can you maintain that great relationship after the sale?

This way you’ll be able to keep clients who’ve already bought happy and make them feel satisfied for having chosen you.

Customer Journey Map: how to determine the route your clients take

We’ve already seen what the Customer Journey for e-commerce is and how it’s possible to target each of its phases.

But what if we told you that there’s a tool that can help you optimize your shop even more?

We’re talking about Customer Journey Maps.

A Customer Journey Map is a diagram that graphically represents the stages of the buying process that clients follow in your e-commerce.

There’s no single model that can be applied to a specific product since each process is different. That means they aren’t static models, but rather models that need to be reviewed periodically to keep the information up to date and to help you avoid losing sales.

Let’s see how it’s done.

0. Instructions

Get some paper and a pen and draw a table.

Then start filling in the following cells.

1. The client

Remember that this all starts with the client.

This is why you need to know your buyer persona (an idea highlight frequently given the key role it plays in any sales strategy).

Before you go any further, create your ideal client card. We explain how to do it step by step in this post.

2. Timeline

This is about detailing the buying process and all of its phases over time and analyzing how the client feels at each of those phases.

Besides the product itself, it’s very important to be mindful of the first and last impression that you make to guarantee an optimal user experience.

3. Feelings or user experience

By representing them graphically on the timeline, we can visualize whether their experience is more negative or positive and spot what had the greatest impact on them.

For example, a positive feeling may be entering in the shop and finding what they are looking for immediately (and there’s nothing better than Doofinder for that). 😉

However, searching for your return policy and not finding it may be a negative point – or if they don’t like your payment methods.

While they are going through the buying process, clients may experience both positive and negative feelings.

Obviously, it’s essential to “fix” the negative experiences and to maximize the positive ones.

4. Touchpoints

A touchpoint is each time your brand or e-commerce is in touch with the client throughout their Customer Journey.

Here you have some examples of touchpoints:

  • When they look for information about a product and find a blog post explaining it.
  • When they enter your e-commerce and look at a product card.
  • When they see one of your ads on their social networks.

If you recreate the sequence of touchpoints on your Customer Journey Map timeline, you’ll be able to measure the influence that each of your marketing actions has on the buying process.

You have a very powerful and free tool to analyze these points of contact: Google Analytics. Here you have our guide – dissect all the contact you have with your clients in order to optimize it.

5. Interactions

At this point, you need to measure the existing interactions between your e-commerce and your clients. Here you have some simple examples:

  • Do you respond to your clients’ comments on social media?
  • Do you offer customer service via email?

It’s about measuring what types of interactions you carry out directly with your clients to keep them satisfied so that they feel their overall experience with your brand is a positive one.

Perhaps a video covering all this would help you understand it better? Here’s a visual explanation made by UX Mastery:

Are you ready to draw your Customer Journey Map?

You’re all set to recreate your customers’ journey so you can optimize the buying process. Remember to do it with more than one client so you can determine the patterns and understand what triggers purchases.

Roll up your sleeves and get to work!