The new Customer Journey

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Forget about the traditional Customer Journey.

With 3.5 billion Google searches a day it makes marketers having to re-think about the Customer Journey and the Sales Funnel.

The shortest way from A to B is a straight line. But for customers that are very Google conversant, it can take a lot of searches before they decide at all that B is the target. Then the customer journey also becomes a completely different one.

Customer Journey, Sales Funnel, AIDA or AIDAS. For over 100 years, this model has been an anchor for how we think about marketing, and only marginally has this changed since the advertiser Elias St. Elmo Lewis formulated it:

Awareness – Interest – Desire – Action – and finally a later addition: Satisfaction.

Or as we say in our version of the classic customer journey:

Knowledge – Interest – Consider – Buy – Loyalty.

The Customer Journey in the Google Age

The classic model has many advantages: Not least, it is easy to understand and relate to.

It explains exactly how a sale takes place from start to finish in a physical store. A triggering factor causes the customer to arrive, at that point he or she is only armed with their own frictions when the seller recommends and sells their product.

Today, the purchase situation is generally very different:

We make 3.5 billion Google searches a day.

And while customers in the past could go into his “thinking box”, it was a rather lonely chamber. Today, however, this thinking box has massive possibilities: to read reviews, watch videos, pursue objections, and potentially throw it all around on what they really need.

How does it affect the customer journey?

When Google got Verto Analytics to analyse the actual click-throughs of thousands of users, they saw that the sales funnel had become quite different.

In short, it appeared that all the customer journeys they inspected were different. In many cases, the sales funnels were not even funnelled, but narrowed in and broke out several times before the customer was ready to buy.

From a sales funnel to an accordion

In their blog, Google presents four of the customers from the survey:

  • Jill, who is going to buy allergy-friendly makeup
  • Justin, who will buy headphones
  • Ava, who is going to book a trip to Ireland
  • Sarah, who is going to buy chocolate

Sarah made 10 google searches and saw one video before she finally used the mobile to search for the nearest merchandise store.

The other three sample customers had over 125, 375 and 500 interactions during their customer journeys.

Jill searched for good allergy-friendly makeup, branded make-up, one of the ingredients in make-up, tips for doing makeup, and a number of searches related to a loyalty program before she finally searched for a store.

Justin, on his part, began a classic problem search: Why does my head feel heavy? Then he searched wide and narrow, and wide again for cheap headphones until he had received enough confirmation that the brand he had first thought of, had him convinced.

And Ava? She continued her search long after the tickets were ordered, to ensure everything from how the cabin looked like inside, to how often the airlines lose their luggage and more.

The new Customer Journey

You will never be able to predict all the paces that customer journeys can take on their way from A to B. Some customers will think “good enough” and go straight to purchase without even going through the entire AIDA trip. Some will scrutinize and evaluate every stitch length before buying new running shoes. Others again want to turn and go back in the sales funnel and pursue other side-lines several times before they finally set the course for B.

You cannot create a perfect marketing campaign and sales funnel that will suit all of these variants.

But you can follow some simple tips:

  • Be useful. You even know a lot of questions the customers will search for. Make sure they can easily find the answers they want – and that the answers rank as high as possible in Google.
  • Prioritize good customers. Be aware of what kind of google searches that will provide profitable customers, and use analytics tools to identify them. It is not a given that the greatest search volume gives the greatest profit.
  • Be smart when setting up your advertising so that the ads meet the customer’s intention and click-through pattern as far as possible. Feel free to use machine learning and automation to control your campaigns.
  • Take the customer seriously and realize that you are not their only source of information. If you know that many people are worried about buying products containing palm oil or made in sweatshops, you cannot hide that away. But you can probably say something about your product or service – and then remove important friction for the customer.

Strictly speaking: the elements of the customer journey still stand. You still need to attract, convert, sell and excite customers. You just have to realise that each trip from A to B is different. And that the consideration phase can have many stops, and each one may require yet another push from the previous one.


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