Five Ways to Optimise the Customer Purchasing Journey


Share on LinkedIn

The customer of today has a myriad of channels linking them to their preferred brands. From web browsing and speaking with a customer support agent, to following, liking, and retweeting, the customer journey is a winding path, which is constantly moving across on and offline channels.

Those marketers who connect up each channel to give the impression of a tailor-made purchasing path are the ones who truly understand their customers and are successfully building the most loyal advocates of their brand. Furthermore, it is those companies that manage to integrate the more elusive offline channels – such as the phone – that are truly leading the way in omnichannel customer care.

EBay Enterprise, for example, are a brand who have long recognised the need to put their customers at the heart of the experience. A few years ago, they had already picked up on the trend of omnichannel and had begun using voice analytics technology with the aim of improving first contact resolution over the phone. Implementing speech recognition and content analysis software (provided by Interaction Analytics) they could leverage big data in order to effectively identify drivers of efficiency, customer satisfaction and revenue generation.

As a result they saw a nine percent improvement in customer satisfaction, an 18 percent improvement in first contact resolution, and a 19 percent increase in average order value during the subsequent 24 months. Online retailers who are providing this kind of omnichannel customer care, online and off, are the ones rapidly raising brand awareness and driving sales growth.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at five ways to effectively fine-tune your approach to guiding consumers successfully along their path to purchase.

1. Ensure full coverage across the search funnel

Consumers are gaining real momentum earlier on in the purchasing process as the majority of online shoppers now research products and services prior to making a purchase. According to Google clickstream research, 70 percent of these purchasers use search at some point in their research journey.

Typical search paths include both brand and generic terms, with 48 percent of purchasers switching between search terms at some point in their journey. Take a look at the graph below to see a breakdown of brand and generic searchers across verticals:

To achieve the maximum number of profitable sales or conversions, advertisers need to understand the full value of every ‘assist’ click and search term entered along the consumer path. It is often assumed that consumers begin with a generic keyword and move on to brand terms, however this is not always the case. If you want to maximise sales you need to take advantage of all consumer touch points, and not just those terms that drive business on a last-click basis.

In terms of search optimisation you should also be thinking about the full search market and not just the highly commercial terms. Measure the sensitivity of keyword performance to multiple attribution models to expose potentially undervalued keywords and be sure to examine typical search funnels within your business and assess areas for potential misattribution.

2. Don’t overlook the phone

In an era of sophisticated online insight tools, marketers are often reluctant to accept that one of the most important channels in a successful omnichannel strategy is an offline one: the phone.

Although we may live in an ‘always-on’ world, human relationships are what foster the most memorable customer experiences. 74 percent of online shoppers polled by ResponseTap, a phone call tracking company, said that speaking to a call center rep gives them peace of mind and confidence that they’re getting exactly what they want, and 34 percent are more likely to make a purchase after conducting research online and then speaking to a company rep on the phone.

The offline world may be much more difficult to integrate into your omnichannel strategy due to the absence of trackable data. However, when done right it promises to offer a considerably more memorable and satisfying experience for the customer.

3. Make the most of online data

The availability of online tracking data means that highly personalised targeting is becoming closer to a reality. Never let these online insights go to waste as they are the clues that make up the customer profile. It is these clues that allow you to send promotional offers, and also to prepare your call center staff for the call should the consumer decide to move offline.

It is not uncommon for the modern consumer to trawl through numerous websites and click on a variety of products and banner ads before ringing your contact center. It is these potential customers, who leverage several channels during the browsing and buying journey, and are prepared to make a purchase offline, that who are often the most profitable for retailers.

In order to ensure you do not disappoint these educated consumers you will want to use all of those online insights (i.e. keywords, clicks and impression) and take them to the call. “Call Whispers”, for example, is a piece of software which feeds your contact staff information about a caller’s online searches, meaning your agent knows what the customer is interested in, can immediately establish a rapport with the customer, and is able to answer questions in a targeted fashion.

4. Connect data across channels

As traditional advertising channels become diluted and democratised by new technologies, like mobile, it becomes increasingly difficult to make an impression on a customer. The main factor influencing your brand’s ability to stand out is therefore not simply your message, but how you manage to build relationships with your audience. Nowadays, this takes time – according to Google clickstream research, an average a third of conversions occur 30 days after initial research began.

One way to build solid relationships is to use data from customer interactions to deliver increasingly relevant communications, content, and offers. This relationship will need to span multiple channels, from social media and websites to brick-and-mortar locations and the contact center.

Linking the data from these various sources is also critical. Now more than ever before, brands need to be able to connect a telephone inquiry to a customer’s entire online journey. Where did her journey begin? How many times did she visit a particular site? Answering these questions, and arming a contact center representative with that information, can ensure a cohesive on and offline experience – one more likely to end in a sale than the disjointed customer experiences that so many companies deliver today.

Aviva, for example – one of the largest insurance providers – rely heavily on the quality of their customer care over the phone. In order to improve the customer experience they needed to be able to track the whole journey, from keyword to call. They also wanted to know which part of their online marketing spend was driving phone calls.

As a result of implementing call tracking software they gained more in-depth knowledge about the types of keywords typically searched for by customers, and were also able to attribute these keywords to specific phone calls. They consequently saw a call volume increase of 121% between Q2 and Q3. They also saw the duration of calls increase by an average of 20%, which suggested that those customers that called were engaged and likely to purchase.

Use this tool from Google to explore how customers move through channels within your industry, and to learn which channels you should be linking up as a priority.

5. Avoid the trap of traditional methodologies

The days of simply recording information about leads and sales and associating this data with certain advertising campaigns are gone. Just as the customer journey has morphed into a winding path of on and offline channels, online tracking data has evolved to become a key element of omnichannel marketing attribution.

In order to properly monitor the effectiveness of your campaigns, you need a new strategy for on and offline data tracking. Integrating the phone, for example, means including offline tracking numbers, dynamic number insertion, CRM integration, and analysis based on every touch and every click of a consumer’s on and offline journey.

Today’s new technology tools can connect all customer touchpoints, creating a bigger picture for marketers that not only lowers cost per acquisition, but also creates a better and more personalised customer experience, as the gap between the customer and a company narrows.

Luke Rees
Luke is a digital marketing executive from London who writes extensively about technology, ecommerce and trends in the search marketing industry.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here