When you’ve got customers purchasing from you exclusively or predominantly online, it can feel like a mystery. There’s small talk where you find out what they’re looking for, what their concerns are, and why they decided to purchase from you. Post-purchase surveys can share some insight, but for some businesses, it all still feels like a bit of a mystery.
You hear a lot about “the buyer’s journey” in the eCommerce industry, and that’s because it’s crucial to track and understand what your customers’ path to conversion looks like. Only by understanding which touchpoints are generating traffic, building interest, and driving conversions can you actually optimize the customer experience to drive more sales long-term.
Tracking your buyer’s journey is essential for long-term success, both of your marketing and sales campaigns and for the business’s revenue. In this post, we’re going to go over exactly how you can track the buyer’s journey as an eCommerce business, including how it works, the tools you need, and the steps you should take to effectively track the path to purchase.
Tracking a customer’s digital journey relies heavily on web analytics tools (and potentially mobile analytics tools), especially those that offer customer tracking and site attribution features to help you determine where your high-value traffic is coming from.
Some businesses rely on individual analytics platforms, like Facebook Insights to determine which posts drive clicks, but this is ultimately a mistake; you end up with data silos, with different data scattered across disjointed analytics that not only don’t show the full picture but that may be using different attribution models or tracking methods so that it all becomes a “comparing apples to oranges” situation.
You don’t just want to know which campaigns drove clicks. You also want to know which ones drove customers to purchase, and how quickly.
Web analytics tools are essential to patching all of the data together while looking at the customer journey during their initial visit to your site, and beyond it. You can see how long it takes for customers to convert, and what campaigns or touchpoints are essential for them to do so.
If you want to optimize your eCommerce buyer’s journey, you first need to discover exactly what that journey is.
Optimization might include:
Ultimately, tracking your buyer’s journey means that you’ll be able to make changes to sell more faster, increasing revenue overall. And, as a plus, you may be able to decrease your customer acquisition costs and ad spend to increase ROI.
Before we dive deeper into tracking your customer journey, let’s take a minute to review common stages of the digital sales funnel.
While each business has its own digital sales funnel, these are the common stages many brands focus on:
Some eCommerce businesses will have short customer journeys, while others have much more complex ones. No matter what, though, people are unlikely to see an ad on Facebook, discover your brand for the first time, and purchase right away. Most people need to interact with multiple touchpoints over a period of time before they’re willing to convert.
Madewell is a good example. It’s a high-quality clothing company that has multiple discovery campaigns across multiple platforms. They’ve got strong offers on their site to drive interest and purchases, and solid email campaigns to keep you engaged. And to keep existing customers purchasing, they have both a loyalty program and a mobile app that makes it incredibly easy to purchase.
Are you ready to track and better understand your eCommerce business’s customer journey? There are four steps that you need to take to do so.
The first thing you need to do is choose the right web analytics tool. You need a professional-quality tool with advanced behavior and activity mapping features.
We strongly recommend choosing a tool with the following attributes:
Here at MyTracker, we offer all of these features and more. Our multi-platform and attribution platform can help you map out your customer journey based on the audience segment so you can optimize the entire journey for all personas.
After you’ve chosen a tool, it’s time to set up event tracking.
You may opt for automatic event tracking where you don't need ti take any specific action to map out your website events — the analytics tool will recognize them automatically. These will be standard events like registration, making a purchase, viewing an item and others.
Read more about automatic event tracking in our blog.
If you want to get a more detailed picture of what actions users take on your website, consider custom events (It’s exactly why it’s so important to choose a tool with custom event tracking— it’s a crucial part of the process!)
Custom event tracking allows you to monitor for users that take specific actions that fall outside the standard “viewed page” or “clicked link.” Examples include:
All of these actions are high-intent and indicate that the user is more likely to make a purchase, but they may do any of these things and then not purchase. It’s important to track the behaviors to help you understand which actions can impact the customer journey, and at what point during that journey do they happen.
You can use custom events and careful analysis to set up a sales funnel. For example:
You can also conduct basic product analytics to track every step your customer takes on your website, allowing you to find weak points that are disrupting the sales process. With this information, you can assess why they might have left, test different ideas, and improve the overall customer journey.
And, from a marketing perspective, you can identify segments of users who didn’t convert from different stages and put campaigns in place to win those segments back.
By understanding your customer journey, you can follow up with the right messaging and optimize (or even create) touchpoints as needed.
It’s common for businesses to work with siloed data, meaning they’re reviewing unique data on individual platforms to try to get a full picture of what’s happening.
In order to gain insight into what’s driving high-value users and which touchpoints are driving actions, you want to analyze your campaigns using the data you’re getting from the web analytics tools.
If, for example, you notice that LinkedIn is driving high-value traffic to your site, you want to head to your account and see which posts could be doing the trick.
If you’re selling out of a certain pair of shoes like crazy, for example, and discover that a micro-influencer promoted your shoes two weeks ago right before the sales came pouring in, that’s a clear example of a touch point that’s working in your favor. You may discover that micro-influencers who have your target audience as followers are a strong option for driving sales, so you can expand into additional influencer marketing campaigns.
Make sure you’re looking at which campaigns are driving users that make it as far into the buyer’s journey as possible. Some ads may get plenty of clicks, for example, but then they have high bounce rates; this may happen if there’s a misalignment with how you’re representing your product or the audience you’re targeting. It could also be an issue of fraud.
As you learn more about how individual marketing campaigns fit into the customer journey by analyzing your web analytics alongside your marketing data, you’ll be able to improve and reinforce that customer journey.
Keep in mind that you’ll also want to find an A/B testing tool that can help you test different hypotheses so you can continually improve your website over time.
Sometimes the best way to find information is to go straight to the source.
Asking customers vital information about their customer journey with post-purchase surveys can grant a ton of information.
You can ask questions like the following:
Keep most questions simple with multiple-choice answers, but allow them to type an answer for one or two core questions like “What made you decide to purchase” or “Which factors influenced your purchase decision?”
Asking customers directly may give you insight that you never would have otherwise, including where you stand in the market and what you can do to set yourself apart (and ahead) of the competition.
Understanding your entire customer journey is the best way to optimize that journey moving forward. You can add new touchpoints as needed, modify those that need tweaking, and even get rid of the ones that aren’t working. This will improve the customer experience, and it may even shorten the average time to purchase.
As customers are happier and you’re able to create a stronger and more robust funnel for all stages of the buyer’s journey, your sales will go up and your revenue can skyrocket. This makes investing in tracking the customer journey well worth the effort.
Are you ready to understand your eCommerce business’s customer journey? See how MyTracker’s advanced free web analytics can help.