What is a Customer Journey?
What is a customer journey in terms of navigating through a website? It’s just like it sounds…their journey, what they see, feel, touch, and overall experience while they are on your website. This applies to every interaction on the internet.
CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) and CJO (Customer Journey Optimization) are often intertwined to create the same effect of making a better experience for your customer.
Why is CJO so important?
Like most experiences in this world, people are attracted to the ones that they are most comfortable with.
A good example is a supermarket. A traditional supermarket is set up in a way where people can expect to find things in certain places, whether it be fresh produce at the entrance to the labelled aisles indicating what contents are to be found.
What would happen if the aisles were not marked and the products not aligned together? What if the 10 types of canned goods were spread over 10 aisles? The shopping experience would be a disaster and EVEN if the prices of supermarkets were potentially cheaper than its competitor, customers will fly away to the nearest supermarket that followed their expectations.
It all comes down to expectations.
Like the supermarket idea, eCommerce websites work the same way. You need to put yourself (and a focus group) in front of your website and ask them and yourself, what do you expect to see when you come to this page?
More importantly, buyer beware causes many internet users to steer clear away from anything that may look fishy.
For example, if your website doesn’t have the following it may diminish your customer’s trust
Logo – Your logo gives credibility to you, to show that you exist and can stand behind your products.
Secure check out – is your website protected with https encryption? People want to make sure that their information is being stored securely.
Images – People need to see the products that they are buying.
Reviews – Allowing people to leave reviews of your products, to gain the wisdom of the crowd and to show that your products are being purchased and being used.
With the assumption that you have all of these items in place. Your visitor is on your home page and you have imbued them with initial confidence that you are here to stay and willing to stand behind your products, the next important question is…
What do you want your visitors to do next?
What do you want your visitors to click on or navigate to? The answer is different for every website as the goals of each website are going to be different. More challenging yet, not every visitor will respond the same way, so your website will have to be slightly multi-directional and focused at the same time.
One item that has worked time and time again for example is the big red button. A centrally focused, above the fold (which means the user doesn’t have to scroll to see it) call to action button just being begged to be clicked or tapped.
Another can be a visual journey that takes the customer down the page leading them to a call to action after they have processed the information that you want them to gather.
Note: This process is going to take a long time to perfect with much testing, but well worth it in the end.
I got them to page 2, now what?
Great! They’ve clicked on something and are now on a second page, you’ve achieved a great thing already but you’re not done yet. First of all, make sure to have tracking on your website with Google Analytics. This will help tell you where people are clicking, when and if they are leaving your site, so you know exactly what to optimise.
Each successive page acts the same way until they check out. Remember, no surprises (or no bad surprises) your customer needs to know what to expect at each stage. For example, if your customer adds a product to their shopping cart, a visual notification should appear that it was successfully added to cart.
Check out time
Checking out is the most important but most nerve wracking part for the customer. It’s where they are placing their sensitive payment information into your system (see above about security) all the while your buyer may still be teetering if they are sure they want to buy the product(s).
This is why this page has to be the most happy and user friendly page you have ever seen.
A good idea is to break it down into a few steps.
Billing information: Asking for the customer’s billing information and credit card (or other payment method).
Shipping Address: Confirming the customer’s shipping address, having them type it out to make sure that it’s 100% correct (or at least not your fault if it’s incorrect) This is where the shipping method can be included as well.
A view of the cart should be visible the whole time with the ability to add or remove, and change quantities of the product if needed. Naturally you want the customer to check out already, but the last thing you want is for them to go back to the store and start the whole process again.
Finally the complete transaction button needs to be clicked and tapped to complete the purchase – Hooray!
But wait, there’s more.
The customer’s journey is not over until they actually get the product and that means you need to keep hand-holding them until they actually get it.
Step 1: Post Purchase Thank You page.
What does the customer see now that they’ve completed the purchase? Usually it’s some kind of thank you page, confirming the most important thing for the customer that their “purchase was successful, thank you!”.
From here you will probably lose the customer’s attention but you don’t have to. While many will click away to the next thing on their todos list, you may have an opportunity to bring them back to the store with some on site offers.
For example “Thank you for your purchase! Click below to return to the store and see our amazing new offers” You should also offer the customer a chance to follow you on social media.
Warning: You may not want to offer a discount at this point as the customer may feel cheated that they just bought something at full price.
Step 2: Post Purchase Email.
The journey continues with the post purchase era of the transaction via email. An email should go out immediately confirming the purchase, its contents and expected arrival date given the selected shipping carrier.
When possible or even in a second email for shipping, a tracking number and link should be sent out to the customer so they feel that their purchase is being handled correctly and they can track its progress.
Step 3: Post Purchase Follow up.
Once the customer has received their purchase, it’s time to create an email sequence with new offers, promotions, and asking for feedback on their previous purchases to help boost your credibility for future buyers. At this point it’s a good idea to offer discounts as a way to bring those customers back time and time again.
Optimise! Optimise! Optimise!
Every stage of this process requires optimisation. As we said above, using Google Analytics is the best way to track your website’s activities, time on site, and where your visitors are missing the mark, and more importantly, where they are hitting the mark.
The best way to do this is to set trials and goals with a reasonable time span to test the theories. Then analyse if it’s working.
Sometimes you’ll need to optimise one piece, and sometimes an overhaul is needed.
CRO and CJO can be challenging, and if you need help, you can always hire an agency to guide you through it.
What is the difference between customer journey and user experience?
User experience is the immediate experience of a shopper in your eCommerce store that is a result of your conversion optimization. It comes from whether the website loads fast, is uncomplicated and easy to navigate, and is a pleasant experience.
User experience is what the visitor experiences from the moment they enter your website until purchase.
On the other hand, customer journey categorizes what level of engagement a customer has with you. A CJO plan starts from how you engage prospective customers to how they end up becoming loyal patrons of your business.
Customer journey is what the consumer experiences from the moment they learn about your business until they become fans of your brand.
Why is customer journey optimization important?
When you plan out and implement your customer journey optimization, you will be able to ensure that you are keeping your customers engaged and patronizing your brand for a lifetime.
This ensures sustainable conversions in the long run.
Is product development part of improving the customer journey?
While product development is not a technical task in CJO, it is a part of your business that improves from the feedback you receive from marketing metrics.
You should make your product better based on customer feedback. And doing so helps to keep your customer continuing on the “journey”.
Is CRO part of CJO?
They are partners.
Your ability to lead people to purchase something from your business is part of how you move people in the entire customer journey process.
Is social media part of CJO?
The customer’s journey is not exclusive to your website and you will have to manage engagements with your audiences in all touchpoints.
Should I outsource my eCommerce marketing?
Yes. If you are a business owner, your time is most probably already spent on operations.
Hand the technical work to a separate team so you won’t have to stretch yourself managing multiple rigorous tasks.
Marketing has its own entire world of requirements that you cannot do alone while you take on other vital aspects of your business.