Have you considered the customer decision journey?

Thursday 18th, July 2013

Marketers today are urged to center their marketing on customers. But doing so requires great insight. Here’s how the customer decision journey influences purchase.

When businesses aim to convert to a customer-centric mode of digital marketing, there are many aspects to consider than is apparent. While understanding their needs and motives is important, it is also equally important to examine and analyze how they behave give certain situations. Especially, to a marketer, it is important to know what path the average customer takes while moving from a state of consideration to purchase.

The journey that a customer takes from awareness to a purchase commitment is referred to commonly these days as a customer decision journey (CDJ). Previously, it was referred to as a sales funnel. The sales funnel was envisioned as being linear to start with.

In the sales funnel depicted here, it’s easy to decipher how a customer supposedly moves from one stage to another in the sales funnel. to start with, there are marketing campaigns which drive awareness among audiences. The audience then moves from the stage of awareness to interest with the help of research about the product/service. At the next stage, i.e. evaluation, the prospect considers his/her other options. At the commitment stage, the prospect becomes a customer post the purchase decision. Happy customers then go on to refer the product/service to their friends and family.

Why the traditional sales funnel is far from reality

While the sales funnel described above dominated the way marketers thought for a very long time, it slowly became more apparent that reality was completely something else. The major points that caused dissonance when it came to the applicability of the sales funnel in real-life marketing were:

  1. The customer decision journey was, is and never will be linear. It is a gross oversimplification of the complex process of decision-making.
  2. The funnel does not account for distractions during the process which are a big factor in today’s marketing
  3. Any good marketing program is a culmination of online and offline efforts. In such cases, tracking a prospects’ progress and identifying what has influenced him/her is extremely difficult. What’s more, the integration of data emerging from online and offline channels continues to be every marketer’s nightmare so far.
  4. The assumption that maximum number of leads will result in a particular percentage of sales does not really pan out
  5. Targeting has become much tighter and accurate, which means that the mass targeting approach at the top of the funnel stands negated
  6. Marketing has assumed a lot more responsibilities in customer decision journey in the past few years with the advent of inbound marketing

With the radical transformation in marketing, the traditional sales funnel has been rendered useless. So what does the current depiction of the customer decision journey look like? Well there are multiple interpretations by leading players in the marketing arena.

Read more about the how customer decision journeyhelps in the following post.

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