Whether your business is multi-channel, omni-channel, or single channel, understanding your customer’s path to purchase is a cornerstone of any effective marketing campaign. Modern shoppers have access to more information and shopping methods than ever before. This means that the average consumer’s journey is now more complex and difficult to track. Yet as customer behaviors become more complex, so too do customer tracking models become more sophisticated. Tools like single customer view and path to purchase models help brands to better understand their current and prospective consumers.
Today, we will explore path to purchase channels by identifying the customer journey vs. path to purchase, the four (4) stages of the path to purchase journey, examples of different path to purchase channels, and how touchpoints are the key to optimizing marketing within different path to purchase channels.
Customer Journey and Path to Purchase
Path to purchase and customer journey can seem like synonymous terms at a glance. In reality, they are separate parts of the same equation.
Path to purchase is one of the many methods by which a customer may use to complete a purchase. When we talk about path to purchase channels, we are referring to different avenues including Google searches, walking into a store, in-app advertisements, social media marketing campaigns, and much more.
Customer journey is what an individual customer experiences beginning with their needs/interests and ending in their purchasing of a product or service. Where the path to purchase refers to the channels through which a customer might find and purchase a product, the customer journey is more about the purchase process.
Four (4) Components of A Typical Customer Journey
When we talk about path to purchase and customer journey, we are really talking about understanding how and why consumers make purchase decisions. This informs what path to purchase channels they are likely to utilize, as well as what touch points will be more useful to marketers (more on this below). There are four components which are true of most customer purchase journeys:
- Interest, need, interest, or demand: this is the baseline of all purchases. An organization or an individual is in need of a product and/or becomes aware of a product which is of interest to them.
- Research, comparing products, seeking advice: most modern consumers will turn to the internet or loved ones for their thoughts before making a purchase. There is a reason that customer reviews are so highly sought after in today’s business environment.
- Making a purchase decision: customer will then purchase their desired products and/or services.
- Review, promotion, customer experience and brand advocacy: the customer journey does not end with the purchase, but instead with their customer experience. Customer experience management can mean the difference between dissatisfied customers, repeat customers, and turning individuals into loyal brand advocates.
Different Path to Purchase Channels
As we mentioned in the introduction, there are more paths to purchase than ever before. Right now, the typical shopper can choose from searching the web, going on social media, watching TV, looking at print advertisements, reading online reviews, going to brick & mortar stores, and a nearly infinite supply of options to make purchases. Even industries with deep rooted traditions like the NYC Taxi Service have been completely upended by Uber, which is primarily run through a mobile app.
Understanding how path to purchase channels influence customer actions is vital for marketing departments. Perhaps your marketing efforts are focused on converting customers through social media platforms when your consumers are far more likely to make purchases through search engine results. Identifying weaknesses in your current marketing strategy based on path to purchase analysis is a great way to improve conversion rates and marketing efficiency.
Importance of Path to Purchase Touchpoints
Touchpoints are a critical component of the customer journey regardless of their chosen path to purchase. Touchpoints are also more complex and more numerous than has been the case in the past. Consider that the average number of touchpoints on a digital device such as a mobile phone or desktop ranges from 2.9 – 3.4 per purchase where the average number of touchpoints for an in-store purchase is 1.7.
Common touchpoints might be customers searching for a product, seeing an advertisement, or comparing prices and/or features against comparables. This is precisely why understanding customer journeys, paths to purchase, and touchpoints as parts of a singular opportunity is so vital. Touchpoints at different points along the customer journey may yield different results. Similarly, touchpoints within different path to purchase channels might yield different results. Analyzing this data and using it to inform marketing decisions is essential in the digital age.
Clock Tower Insight Customer Journey & Path to Purchase Analysis
Clock Tower Insight is proud to work with a wide range of B2C and B2B industries, including retail, CPG, food service, and advertising organizations. We believe in using powerful, cutting edge research to offer brand-specific insights. With this insight, we work with brands to turn the data into actionable information, and eventually into business growth. Our services include brand positioning, customer experience management, and much more.
Learn more about how Clock Tower Insight can help your business today.