The Ultimate Guide To Perfecting the Ecommerce Customer Journey
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The Ultimate Guide To Perfecting the Ecommerce Customer Journey
In recent decades, there's been an exponential increase in online commerce and marketing, or eCommerce. With this relatively new format of web-based trade comes an entirely new customer experience.
In short, the process of becoming a consumer has drastically changed in the past couple of years, and things don't work the way they used to—for example, the eCommerce customer journey.
The customer journey is crucial to a business's economic success as it defines every sale the brand makes. With an optimal customer journey, a company can maximize overall profits, utilize assets to their fullest, and create an upward trend of steady growth.
Navigating the world of online marketing and eCommerce doesn't have to be intimidating. In this definitive guide on the eCommerce customer journey, we'll reveal everything you need to know about selling your products or services online and what changes you can make to improve your brand's experience as a whole.
What Is the eCommerce Customer Journey?
In short, the eCommerce customer journey is every stage and engagement a customer has with your online business. This definition is an extremely broad range of motion and quite ambiguous in what it actually entails.
It usually starts with the customer becoming aware of your brand, a service you provide, or a product you sell through some online marketing technique. This awareness could mean anything from a paid ad to a referral from a popular influencer.
The eCommerce customer journey might end with them hitting the checkout button on your online store, or it may continue well past that.
The Importance of the Ecommerce Customer Journey
Unbeknownst to many, the eCommerce customer journey is vital to an online business's success. The necessity goes far beyond a simple sale and profit and is something that should always be considered.
Here are some of the aspects the eCommerce customer journey plays a crucial role in:
If you provide your customers with a convenient experience and high-quality products, many of them are bound to become repeat customers.
This experience will build loyal customer relationships and reinforce your brand with a dedicated audience that stays with you for long periods.
Increase Customer Retention
Similarly to customer loyalty, retention is a brand's ability to retain customers through a positive eCommerce customer experience.
This factor essentially gives consumers a reason to stick with your company as opposed to going to competitors.
When you build customer loyalty and increase retention, your brand becomes more recognizable and appealing based on the prospects of the name alone.
Building up to a high level of brand equity will establish your online business in the industry and give even more people incentives to buy your products.
Drives Profits and Upward Growth
Unsurprisingly, an amazing customer journey full of expert marketing exploits, few pain points, and sales leads to an increase in revenue generation and an upward trend of company growth.
There are many more benefits of having a stellar eCommerce customer journey, but these are just some of the most profound.
Every Step of the Ecommerce Customer Journey
Encapsulating the customer journey is no easy task and each step should be taken with the utmost care and effort.
Here, we've broken down the customer journey into five categories which break down even further into subcategories. These are all the stages you should avert your attention to increase conversions and generate loyal customers:
- The awareness stage
- The consideration stage
- The purchase
- Customer retention stage
Remember that your process may vary depending on your eCommerce business's circumstances, and no two brand experiences will be the same.
The Awareness Stage: Becoming Aware of a Product
All customer journeys begin with awareness. It should be no coincidence that your customers found your product or brand. If you're using efficient eCommerce marketing approaches, then you should always hit your mark by increasing the public's familiarity with your brand.
You can use many different online marketing strategies to attract your target audience. The main thing is to understand who you're trying to sell something to by developing buyer personas and tailoring your ad campaigns toward them.
Consider your potential customers' behaviors and demographics, including:
- Pain Points
If the product is something they're interested in, they're more likely to delve deeper into the customer eCommerce journey.
The Consideration Stage: Making a Decision
Once you have piqued the interest of a prospective customer with a product, they're going to want to know more before they decide to buy. These are some of the most common facets one might think about during the consideration stage.
Reputability of Brand
Put yourself in the position of prospective customers. One of the first things you might look for in an online business is brand recognizability. If it's a well-known eCommerce platform with a pretty good track record, you'll feel more comfortable purchasing from them.
Building a well-received, widely known brand will prompt new consumers to take action and buy something from you.
Can Easily Find Information
People want specifics. They want to know everything about a product before they buy it. A good online retail company structures its website and social media platforms so that information is easily accessible and convenient to navigate.
The brand's word isn't enough to make someone want to buy something. Most website visitors take to the reviews of other like-minded customers to determine the quality and worth of a product.
A smart strategy to get reviews is to provide incentives, such as giving away the product as part of a promotion or prompting people who enjoy your product to leave a review.
Finally, there's the purchase. It's when a customer decides to buy your product and makes their way to your eCommerce site's main page to check out.
This stage is where the customer eCommerce journey ends for many. It doesn't have to end here, though, as there are several ways to keep website visitors coming back and develop lasting customer relationships.
To ensure repeat customers, offer multiple touchpoints throughout the buyer's journey.
Retention includes those customers who enjoyed their eCommerce customer journey and continue to use your services to buy products. They frequently revisit your site and are receptive to new products you put out there.
The last component of the various customer journey stages is the reception of your brand and products.
If you provide a customer with a worthwhile experience, they're likely going to talk positively about your company whenever it comes into question. Not only will this increase brand loyalty and equity, but it provides an indicative sign of how well you are doing as a business.
Likewise, if a customer is unsatisfied with your services, they're more likely to badmouth your company, which will have a negative impact on your growth.
Where To Start
If you're an online business owner who's new to developing an eCommerce customer journey, there are some essential changes you need to make to prepare your company to make the shift.
Start With an Internal Audit
If you have employees, implement an audit to see where the company is strong, pain points, and areas where improvements are necessary to keep customers interested.
Employees are vital to every brand, and each has its own ideas and insights into the company structure. The information they provide may help you gain a better understanding of how your business functions and your customer's experiences.
Make sure everyone is on board for any changes you make and that there's a high degree of communication in all departments.
Make the Shift To Become Customer-Centric
The next step is to become tailored toward the customer.
It's one thing to appeal to an audience. It's a whole different beast to appeal to your audience. Once you have a steady flow of customers, you need to keep them enticed in order to get them to come back and recommend you to others.
The best way to appeal to your customers is through tons of research and accurate buyer personas. Here are a few ideas to achieve this:
- Reach out to customers after purchases
- Prompt surveys
- Check digital data
Everything your company does should revolve around the customer and the customer's experience.
Map Out a Strategy
Once you've got your employees on the same page and your company has made a choice to become more customer-centric, it's time to create a winning strategy.
A winning strategy consists of goals, projections, revenue predictions, and a coherent timeline of everything you plan to proceed with.
If you have trouble creating a strategy by yourself, try using a digital marketing solution to help map out your action plan.
Learning From Customers To Improve Customer Journey
Nobody knows more about the eCommerce customer journey than the customer. There's a lot to learn from the buying habits of your customers, and there's a variety of techniques you can employ to get an in-depth analysis of all of them.
Sending a follow-up email a few days after a customer makes a purchase prompting a survey about how they liked their customer experience, can give you some valuable insights into what you're doing right.
This customer touchpoint is the most direct approach to understanding what's going on in your customers' heads, and while many of these surveys may go ignored, the ones you do receive will be genuine.
Demographics and Marketing Statistics
To understand the customer's perspective, you'll need to collect data that helps you understand the following:
- How much traffic your eCommerce site receives
- Where your traffic comes from
- What marketing strategies are working best for you
Investing in a digital marketing service can help you record all of these analytics and make plans around them.
Utilize Pop-ups on Your Website
Implementing various pop-ups on your website asking customers about certain parts of their experience can help you learn more about your buyers while they're on your site.
They should be concise and easy to do (like simply clicking a checkbox or leaving a star rating).
It's also imperative that you don't oversaturate your site with these pop-ups. If you do, it can get quite annoying and may drive away traffic from your brand. Each pop-up should be unobtrusive and easily closable if the customer wishes to ignore it.
Tips for Optimizing the eCommerce Customer Journey Map
Here's the thing about the eCommerce customer journey: there's always room for improvement.
You might have a winning strategy, but that doesn't mean you should leave it as is. Things are always changing, and new trends are always on the rise. Keeping track of these developments will keep your business in tip-top shape and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.
These are some tips on how you can optimize your customer journey and provide your audience with a high-quality, adaptive experience.
Appealing Website Design
First of all, you're going to need an appealing design for your company's main website. Unorganized, unattractive interfaces are an immediate turn-away for many web goers, and it should be a top priority to create a stunning, streamlined design.
If you're a small business and web design isn't really your thing, that's okay. There are tons of professional online services to design your website for a relatively low price.
A Website That Is Easy To Use
Your website can be pretty to look at but a jumbled mess when it comes to navigating through it. Avoid this at all costs, as customers won't spend very long trying to figure your interface out if it's overly complex.
Make hyperlinks and shortcuts clear-cut and easy to find. There's no such thing as too obvious when it comes to web design.
Provide Proactive Customer Support
If your company has a full-time customer service department, then that should make this tip easier to implement. If you're a smaller business owner who doesn't have the resources for a customer support department, you can still provide an email dedicated to helping customers along their buyer's journey.
Proactive customer support can enrich the customer experience and potentially solve any problems a customer may run into on their eCommerce customer journey.
Whether it concerns a faulty product or they're having trouble finding information about a product, a customer support service will increase the likelihood of customer retention and reception.
Making your website mobile-friendly is one of the most important steps you can take to optimize the customer journey map. In fact, three-quarters of online profits made are from mobile devices because it's efficient.
That means the majority of all purchases made on the internet are done so through a mobile device.
With 75% of worldwide digital sales coming from smartphones and tablets, you're definitely going to want to make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
Personalize the Customer Experience
There are a significant number of things you can do to personalize your customers' experiences. This customization could be something as simple as addressing buyers by their name when sending follow-up emails or as in-depth as using product browsing history to recommend products a customer might be interested in.
When the advertisements and product recommendations get tailored to the individual, they're considerably more likely to become interested in what you're selling.
Provide Informative Blog Posts on Your Site
When someone looks something up on the internet, there's a good chance they'll end up on some company's blog, which typically provides a product or service relating to the blog's content.
Regularly posting educational articles on your website will attract traffic to your brand and increase your ranking on search engines. Ranking higher on search engines will inadvertently drive sales and increase the popularity of your business.
A good strategy is to implement links to relevant product pages within these articles.
Making Checking Out Easy
Having a quick and easy checkout process can avoid tons of abandoned shopping carts and provide your company with many more sales.
This factor may seem like an unassuming detail, but optimizing this feature can make the customer journey vastly more convenient.
For one, allowing the customer to access their shopping cart from any page on your website is an attribute that's often taken for granted. Having the ability to get to one's cart with a single click can make a big difference when it comes to sales (especially on the internet, which is full of distractions).
Become Proactive After a Customer Makes a Purchase
If you want a consistent customer base full of dedicated regulars, each sale shouldn't be a one-and-done deal.
Make sure to follow up and have multiple touchpoints. For example, you can follow up with an email asking if they enjoyed their experience and if everything's okay with the product they received.
Afterward, you can regularly send product recommendations and discounts, so they don't forget about your brand. A good rule of thumb is at least once a month, or twice a month during holiday seasons such as December.
If they're a regular customer, make sure to reward them. Provide them giveaways for their birthdays and give them a letter of gratitude for anniversaries.
There's a lot you can do to increase customer retention, so don't be afraid to get creative here.
Provide a Return Service
Online shopping is incredibly convenient, but there's an overlying issue with buying products on the internet. You can't try the product before you purchase it; you simply have to go off product information and reviews.
That's why having a fair return policy can provide further incentive to buy your product. A customer may think, "oh, if I don't like it, I can just return it." This option eliminates any fear that they're buying a product they might not need.
Even if it turns out the customer doesn't want the product, if it's not too expensive, they'll likely forget about it and never actually return it.
Have Well-Designed Product Pages
This factor goes further beyond your website's initial website design.
Your eCommerce platform's product pages should be equally appealing and provide information in an orderly manner. Important points such as price and name should be highlighted in some way, and there should be a variety of detailed images with each product.
Being able to navigate each product page seamlessly and pick out any specific bit of information a customer might be looking for is a crucial element you don't want to skimp out on.
Appeal to Customer's Thoughts, Senses, and Emotions
Using a bit of psychology can do wonders when trying to encourage customers to interact with your website.
There are tons of things you can do here, and no limit to how much you can innovate in how you appeal to your audience. First of all, you'll likely want to provide an appealing color scheme that matches your site's theme.
For instance, if your site sells lawn care products, you'll probably have a color palette based on the color green.
Images and Keywords
Using images and keywords that evoke emotional responses from your target audience are also popular strategies for attracting new customers.
A large part of this (as with much of creating the customer journey map) is doing your research.
Maintaining an Efficient Supply Chain
We can't reiterate this point enough: the eCommerce customer journey map doesn't end when they purchase a product on your site. Theoretically, it shouldn't end at all if you play your cards right.
But you also have to ensure you get the product to the customer promptly. And that doesn't mean on the last day of the expected shipment date. Packages that arrive early are well received by customers and can potentially improve the overall customer journey.
You should also make sure that your products are appropriately packaged and handled with care so that customers don't receive damaged goods.
Consistent communication and general organization can help keep your supply chain working as fast and efficiently as possible.
Providing Various Payment Options
It seems that credit cards are the most popular method of payment online, but there has been increasing popularity in alternative payment methods in recent years.
There are quite a few apps, such as PayPal, where users can make transactions, and providing the opportunity to use them may increase how many people buy your products.
Of course, that doesn't mean you should start taking cryptocurrency as payment, but it's always good to give your customers more options when it comes to payment.
Gauging The Customer Journey Experience
Once you're on your way to creating a valid customer journey, you're probably going to want to measure it in some way to track your progress.
Luckily, there are three main ways of gauging and measuring the effectiveness of your brand's customer experience.
Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
The CSAT is a metric commonly used in marketing and business to measure overall customer satisfaction with certain aspects of a company. This metric usually means the quality of its products and how effective customer service is.
To calculate your CSAT score, you need to sum up all of your positive reviews, divide them by the total number of reviews you've received, and then multiply that number by 100.
For a deeper look into how CSAT is calculated, Hubspot provides a pretty good summary of the prospect.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
The NPS is how likely your customers are to recommend your brand to others. You can attain this information by adding a survey to your website, asking customers to rate their experience and how likely they are to recommend your product to a family or friend.
Your NPS is simply the average of all the ratings you've received. You can get these values through numeric scales, such as 1 - 5 or a star rating.
The NPS can provide some useful numbers on how much your brand can expect to grow and how well received it is by pre-existing customers.
Customer Loyalty and Retention
Calculating your customer loyalty and retention score can be a bit more complicated than the previous two metrics simply because there are more scores to measure.
There isn't one all-inclusive score but rather a groupset of gauges to give you a better idea of various aspects of your business structure.
Some things to keep track of are how many customers return regularly, how often they make purchases, and how much their average order value comes out to be.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Customer Journey Map
Here are some frequently asked questions around the web regarding the eCommerce customer journey map.
What makes good customer service?
This question is widely contingent on the individual brand, but generally, good customer service provides the following: quick responses, live assistance, helpful solutions, follow-ups, and a polite, friendly tone.
What are touchpoints in customer journey maps?
Touchpoints are the areas of access where customers first come into contact with a brand's name or products. These touchpoints are essential for reaching desired audiences and prompting them to learn more.
What are the three main components of customer journey maps>
The three main components of the eCommerce customer journey map are discovery, engagement, and delivery.
Final Thoughts: eCommerce Customer Journey
The eCommerce customer journey is the single most important thing any e-commerce-based company can focus on when selling their products via the web.
There's no easy way to do it but when you break it down, it isn't too difficult either. It just requires a lot of patience, effort, and research. If you play your cards right, you'll find yourself with a dedicated customer base and high-profit values.
Follow everything detailed in this article, and you'll be on your way to creating an effective customer journey map.