Search the website

Untangling the Modern Customer Journey: A Guide to Effective Marketing Attribution – Part 1

No simple, human-based attribution model can give you the real, impactful marketing attribution answers you need. You'll need the help of, you know, AI. You should also read this blog, the first in a series exploring marketing attribution in the age of (almost) too much data

Posted in

It’s one of the busiest crossroads at which the different revenue teams intersect and sometimes collide – attribution junctions. A well-documented battle of egos, bonuses, and, ultimately, optimization. 

At the heart of that low-key struggle is the cold hard truth that marketing touchpoints can become innumerable – not just in the figurative sense, but impossible to count, let alone quantify, measure and optimize.  

But, on the bright side, while marketing attribution is indeed a challenge, there are many ways to address it. Some better than others – and to that end, we’ll dive into what building a proper B2C digital marketing attribution strategy looks like. 

We begin this three-part series with the basics – the intricacies of the modern customer journey – and shed light on its various stages and steps. 

The (modern) Customer Journey  

In today’s dynamic e-commerce landscape, understanding the customer journey has become more critical than ever. Gone are the days of linear, straightforward paths to purchase. Instead, customers embark on a complex journey influenced by multiple touchpoints and channels. But what is the journey of a customer in e-commerce?  

The customer journey in e-commerce refers to the process a potential buyer goes through, from initial awareness to making a purchase decision. It encompasses every interaction and touchpoint between the customer and the brand, both online and offline. By understanding this journey, businesses can gain valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, and pain points.  

But that definition may be too simplistic for the modern customer journey. In the digital age, the modern customer journey is characterized by its complexity and non-linear nature. Customers engage with brands through various channels, including websites, social media, email, mobile apps, and more. They can conduct extensive research, compare products, read reviews, and seek recommendations before purchasing. This level of empowerment and access to information has transformed the traditional customer journey into a multi-dimensional experience.  

Four Stages of the Modern Customer Journey  

So, to build an attribution strategy that would be beneficial, any marketer must become deeply familiar with two other crucial methodologies.  

First, breaking down the four stages of the modern consumer journey:  

  1. Awareness: This stage involves the customer becoming aware of a problem or a need that requires a solution. They might encounter a brand through advertising, social media, or word-of-mouth, sparking their interest.  
  2. Consideration: At this stage, the customer actively seeks information and evaluates various options. They explore different brands, compare features and prices, read reviews, and engage in online research.  
  3. Decision: In the decision stage, the customer narrows down their options and makes a purchase choice. They may decide based on pricing, product quality, customer reviews, or promotions.  
  4. Post-Purchase: After making a purchase, the customer enters the post-purchase stage. Here, their experience with the product or service influences their satisfaction, loyalty, and likelihood of becoming repeat customers.   

7 Steps for Mapping a Customer’s Path  

Next, in building an excellent attribution strategy, the kind that can really have a positive impact on your business, comes mapping the customer journey. Here is a “seven-essential-steps structure”, businesses can follow when mapping the customer’s path – to effectively navigate the complex customer journey:  

  1. Identify touchpoints: Determine where customers interact with the brand throughout their journey.  
  2. Define goals: Identify the objectives and desired outcomes at each journey stage.  
  3. Gather data: Collect relevant data and insights about customer behavior, preferences, and interactions across touchpoints.  
  4. Create customer personas: Develop detailed profiles of your target customers, considering their motivations, needs, and pain points.  
  5. Plot the journey: Map out the customer journey, visualizing the sequence of touchpoints and interactions. If you do it the Optimove way, you’ll do it based on a lifecycle-stage strategy and let AI map your customer journeys.  
  6. Analyze touchpoint effectiveness: Evaluate the impact and effectiveness of each touchpoint in driving customer engagement and conversions. Again, the Optimove way here – which we’ll give a closer look at in future blogs – is by using control groups and calculating incremental uplift for true business impact.  
  7. Optimize and iterate: Continuously refine and improve the customer journey based on data-driven insights, ensuring a seamless and personalized experience. And, yes, an AI-based Customer-Led Marketing platform can do most of this for you, leaving you to focus on finding new ways to engage prospects and customers.  

But to get the most out of such advanced marketing technology – marketers must fully grasp the importance of touchpoints and be able to identify them effectively.  

Five Types of Touchpoints: Where the Magic Happens  

Touchpoints refer to the moments of interaction between a customer and a brand throughout their journey. These touchpoints can occur across various channels, specific platforms, or mediums through which these interactions occur.  

The customer journey is enriched with touchpoints crucial in shaping perceptions and influencing decisions. Here are five key touchpoints commonly encountered along the customer journey:  

  1. Advertising: Customers may encounter a brand through advertisements on websites, social media platforms, or even traditional media channels. These touchpoints aim to create awareness and generate interest.  
  2. Website: A brand’s website is a central hub for customers to explore products or services, gather information, and make purchasing decisions. These touchpoints include landing pages, product pages, and checkout processes.  
  3. Social Media: Customers engage with brands through likes, comments, shares, and direct messages. These touchpoints provide opportunities for brand engagement, community building, and customer support.  
  4. Customer Service: Interactions with customer service representatives, whether via phone, email, or live chat, are essential touchpoints contributing to customer satisfaction and loyalty. These touchpoints involve addressing inquiries, resolving issues, and providing personalized support.  
  5. PostPurchase: Post-purchase touchpoints come into play after a customer completes a purchase. These may include order confirmations, shipping notifications, and follow-up emails to gather feedback or offer post-sales support.  

If you got all the way here, you must be determined to build a fantastic, impactful B2C attribution strategy that won’t leave any stone unturned. Which is great, as we have two more blogs in the series coming your way. 

But what’s even more important at this point is to look back on everything we touched here and realize that if it all looks like a little too much… well, that’s because it is a lot. Mainly because no simple, human-based attribution model can give you the real, impactful answers you’ll be looking for. You’ll need the help of, you know, AI. But we’ll get to that in our next blog in the series. 

Published on
Posted in

Rob Wyse

Rob Wyse is Senior Director of Communications at Optimove. As a communications consultant, he has been influential in changing public opinion and policy to drive market opportunity. Example issues he has worked on include climate change, healthcare reform, homeland security, cloud transformation, AI, and other timely issues.