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Digital opinion

Tracking customer journeys by following their digital footprints

In the first part of a two-article series exploring the digital customer journey, Acceleration Media's Johan Walters explores the reporting infrastructure companies need to put in place to track their customers.
Thanks to all the data they can collect about their customers across digital touchpoints, brands today can build a powerful understanding of how customers arrive at the decision to buy their products or services. By looking at the customer experience at every step of the customer journey, you as a marketer can find ways to optimise your marketing efforts and improve performance at every touchpoint.

The right infrastructure

The process of benchmarking and understanding the customer journey begins by ensuring that you have the right infrastructure in place to track and report on customer data. This infrastructure should ideally be a single platform covering all of your key digital channels and one that grows to scale as your digital needs become larger and more complex.

With the right platform in place, you can start to think about exactly what you need to track and measure. It's important to think about your purchase funnel - how customers move from awareness to purchase - as well as the role each of your channels play in the funnel, you can tag sections of your site that indicate customer interest in your products.

Also, you should draw up key performance indicators such as - engagements, conversions and other measures - so that you can report meaningfully on performance. With those basics in place, you can begin advanced reporting and analysis.

The key objectives will be to understand the path that leads a customer to a conversion - you'll want to know how many steps were in the journey and how long that journey took. In addition, you'll want to reach an understanding of how the various elements of your digital marketing strategy - for example, search and display - interacted in the customer's journey.

Some examples of the insights you can gain from your reports include:
    • The number of conversions that occurred in one-step journeys, for example an exposure to a search result or an ad. This will help you understand which channels are the ones that drive conversions in your business. These are your best-performing channels.

    • The number of conversions that needed several steps, also known as assisted conversions. This will help you understand the interplay between your channels and campaigns. For example, you'll be able to see how social and search work together to bring in customer conversions.

    • The length of time the journey to conversion took. You'll be able to visualise the journey from first exposure to conversion on a timeline. You'll be able to understand the time lag between the user's action and exposure to your marketing, even if he or she only returns to your site hours or days after first being exposed to your ad. If you can measure how efficient your media placements, channels and touch points are in isolation and when combined, you are in a good position to optimise budgets and allocate resources.

    For example, you might discover that the money you spend on display has more impact on conversions than you thought because users who see your ads are more likely to search for your products and services.
In part two, I'll look at the practical techniques marketers can use to optimise their purchasing funnels.

About Johan Walters

Johan Walters, Digital Marketing Specialist at 25AM, helps organisations to use data and analytics to track the performance of their online campaigns against their business objectives. Walters has over 14 years of experience in the digital and online market. He started his career in campaign management at Forwardslash, a marketing agency specialising in the international online gaming industry. Over the course of eight years with this company, Walters held a wide range of roles including campaign manager, team leader, team specialist and head of media. Walters joined Acceleration Media in 2007 and has since specialised in helping clients to harness the power of ad serving, tracking, reporting and analysis to enhance their digital campaigns and strategies.
Andrew Walmsley
Andrew Walmsley
HI John

Your article is spot on, very relevant.

Have you seen Brandtribe - they are based in Cape Town and seem to be very relevant to your article.

Looking forward to part 2.
Posted on 11 Feb 2014 21:26
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