Unraveling the Customer Journey Stages: Insights and Strategies

A customer’s path to purchase has never been as long and complicated as it is now. With hundreds of potential online and offline touchpoints, customers have ample opportunities to interact with brands throughout their journeys. Let’s examine each of the customer journey stages and discover how businesses can make the most of each step.

Customer Journey Stages

Unraveling the customer journey stages helps establish a baseline for customer journey analytics, insights, and strategies. First, let’s define the customer journey as a whole:

The customer journey refers to the lifecycle of a relationship between a business and one of its customers. Rather than focusing on a single transaction or event, the customer journey represents the full duration of a customer-business relationship. This spans every stage, or “touchpoint,” from awareness to acquisition, to retention, and through a final interaction (when applicable).

The journey often begins with a brand’s desire to sell and a consumer’s desire to buy. How they come to meet, interact, and transact is made up of a collection of many different points of engagement that shape customer experience and direct the customer journey. While no two consumer stories are truly identical, most marketers agree that the customer journey is typically characterized by the following stages:

A graphic depicting the 4 customer journey stages: Lead Generation, Engagement, Conversion, and Post-Journey Loyalty.

Let’s take a closer look at each stage to find opportunities brands can use to move customers closer to conversion.

Lead Generation and Awareness

This initial stage is characterized by a potential customer’s awareness of a particular product or service. Brands often take the initiative at this stage and reach out to target audiences through lead generation. Businesses can choose from several methods to generate leads via outbound marketing (cold calling, direct email, etc.) and inbound marketing (search engine optimization, content creation, etc.).

The first step of the journey doesn’t seem to provide brands much leeway; after all, potential customers haven’t committed much. But having the right tool—like a customer data platform (CDP)—can give brands an early edge through the following functions:

Derive Insights. Customer insights help companies analyze behavior, assess responses to campaigns, decode consumer needs, and realign marketing strategies. Brands can derive insights from a CDP’s 360° customer profiles, which it creates from a combination of first-, second-, and third-party data sources. These unified profiles give anonymous consumers a permanent identity (WHO) and enable brands to follow their actions (WHAT). A 360° view makes it possible for brands to develop deep insights to optimize targeting and marketing.

Design Marketing Actions. As brands gain a deeper understanding of their target audiences, they can plan marketing actions that will help move customers down the funnel. CDP tools—such as Treasure Data’s recommendation engine—can help marketers choose the activations best suited to guide prospects toward conversion based on their behaviors.

Deploy Across Channels. Lastly, CDPs like Treasure Data’s empower marketers to deploy insights-based activations across all channels with a few clicks. This creates a consistent experience across interfaces and keeps customers engaged wherever and whenever they choose to interact with brands.

With the right target audience matched to the right marketing actions, it’s time to move on to the next stage.

What is a CDP?

Mapping the Customer Journey Toward Acquisition

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Engagement with Intermediate Brand Touchpoints

At this stage, leads—or potential customers—explore intermediate touchpoints to see if the brand is a good fit for their needs. These touchpoints can be accessible in both digital and physical landscapes. Thus, prospects can browse a website, visit a physical store, or engage on social media without yet committing to a purchase. Brands can leverage a CDP at this stage to realign their marketing strategies and improve engagement with specific audience segments.

Evaluate Campaigns and Engagement. Advanced CDPs like Treasure Data’s enable brands to assess and adjust campaigns based on consumers’ real-time responses. Treasure Data’s Audience Studio offers A/B Testing to compare the performances of different campaigns between different audience groups. This tool also helps marketers identify the most effective marketing strategies for particular targets.

Recalibrate Strategy. Brands can apply CDP-derived insights and predictive analytics to refine marketing strategies on a continual basis. This enables businesses to adapt quickly to customers’ needs. Treasure Data, in particular, has the near-instantaneous capability to change a target audience’s characteristics and corresponding touchpoints to increase the chance of conversion. Treasure Data’s CDP also allows marketers to recalibrate specific omnichannel experiences to different audiences.

Update Profiles. Customers’ responses, recorded as positive vs. negative, action taken vs. no action taken, etc., can be fed back into a CDP’s system to update the customer data foundation. As individual profiles and audience segments are updated, a CDP becomes more accurate in its analyses. This, in turn, enables the CDP to produce fresh, relevant insights on demand to optimize customer engagement.

As leads continue to engage with brands in intentional ways, CDPs like Treasure Data can orchestrate customer journeys to help inch prospects closer to conversion.

Check out this Treasure Data CDP Retail Demo video to see how it works:

Treasure Data CDP Retail Demo

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Conversion

The point of conversion marks the stage where a prospect performs the desired action, whether that means making a purchase, joining a loyalty program, signing up for a subscription, joining a mailing list, and upgrading services, among many other similar actions of commitment.

Brands can make it easy for customers to convert by making the experience frictionless. This means checkout is quick, signing up simple, or upgrading is as easy as clicking a link. In addition, a CDP’s capabilities enable brands to optimize customer journeys for conversion by:

Identifying high-converting channels and campaigns. CDPs provide the necessary visibility into customer journeys to determine points of high conversion in a consumer’s path to purchase. Treasure Data CDP takes this a step further by applying a multi-touch attribution model based on Shapley Values. Using this model, Treasure Data gives marketers an accurate understanding of how channels in the customer journey contribute to a campaign’s success or lackluster performance.

Fine-tuning strategies for different audiences. Brands can leverage a CDP’s audience segmentation capabilities to optimize campaigns for different audience segments and maximize impact. Treasure Data’s CDP, specifically, has the ability to unify data points from a campaign and present a single picture of performance across different channels, making it easy to track and optimize campaigns.

Applying Next-best Action (NBA) metrics to boost effective follow-up steps. CDPs like Treasure Data’s come with recommendation engines that suggest actions based on AI and machine learning algorithms. Applying next-best action (NBA) metrics allows brands to find and invest in the best move calculated to nudge customers towards conversion. Treasure Data’s NBA model is designed to apply the best follow-up step automatically to engage customers at the lowest acquisition cost.

Once customers reach the point of conversion, brands can increase lifetime value by using a CDP to build post-journey loyalty and maintenance.

How To Maximize Your Customer Insights Benefits for Better Lifetime Value

How To Maximize Your Customer Insights Benefits for Better Lifetime Value

Field Guide to Customer Journey Awareness: Understanding Customer Behavior for Better Retention

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Post-Journey Loyalty and Maintenance

The concluding stage of the journey consists of maintaining relationships with existing customers. While post-journey loyalty may not seem as important a goal as conversion itself, it nevertheless pays to keep customers happy and visiting regularly to do business.

A best-in-class CDP like Treasure Data’s can improve post-journey loyalty by helping prevent churn. Treasure Data’s analytical capabilities also build value over time by mining for more opportunities for conversion. Here’s how:

Identify Churn Factors. Treasure Data’s customer data foundation can be explored to identify customers who have already churned. These can be grouped into a new audience segment for analysis to uncover factors or characteristics that contributed to customer churn.

Build Churn Lookalikes. Brands can also be proactive in stopping churn by building audience lookalikes of people who have already churned. Using Treasure Data’s machine learning, brands can use churned audience characteristics to predict which group of customers are likely to follow the same course. Sales and support teams can then be deployed to take pre-emptive steps and maintain customer relationships.

Leverage NBA. After finding out who is likely to churn, brands can use CDP’s recommendation engine to find out the next best action to build loyalty. An NBA model can also be used to find cross-sell and upsell opportunities for loyal customers. Lastly, brands can use a CDP to determine the best marketing channel to reach a high-churn-score audience.

Check out this video “How To Reduce Customer Churn And Keep Your Customers Happy” to see how you can build a predictive model in Treasure Data CDP’s Audience Studio to anticipate churn:

How To Reduce Customer Churn And Keep Your Customers Happy

Take Control Of Your Customers’ Journeys With A Treasure Data CDP

Top brands around the world rely on Treasure Data to create clean, unified, and enriched 360° customer profiles for journey orchestration. Treasure Data CDP enables businesses to target specific customers with the right message at each stage of the journey.

These and other companies in our 400-strong list of clients use Treasure Data to:

  • Gain 360° visibility into the customer journey
  • Unify customer profiles using online + offline data
  • Personalize customer experience at all customer journey stages
  • Fine-tune targeted advertising
  • Eliminate data silos
  • Segment audiences by attributes, user behavior, and others
  • Predict customer behavior
  • Retarget audiences
  • And more

To learn more about how a CDP can maximize your customers’ journey stages, consult an expert today. Want to learn more? Request a demo, call 1.866.899.5386, or contact us for more information.