We've established what a customer journey is not (even if we wish it were), how to use data from Google Analytics to understand our customer journey, and how to identify and create a plan for improving our customer journey. What's next?
I once had a manager who was overly fond of the phrase "take it to the next level". I was asked in my early days in marketing, "what can we do to take this website to the next level?" and "what is your plan for taking our traffic to the next level?" Years ago, I would struggle with this answer; today, we have the tools to answer that question and then some. If we can identify what the next level looks like in terms of customer journey, we can begin to provide that today, paving the way for bigger, better, and more customers.
Let's begin with Google's Customer Journey tool. You'll note that each industry also has a size selector. Whatever tier you're at, look at and investigate the other two tiers (small, medium, and large):
In the medium-to-large example above, we can see conceptually how the channels change as a site moves from a medium business to a large business in this sector. The journey becomes longer and more spread out; social media moves to the forefront of the journey rather than stacked in the middle of the pack. We see paid search move further forward, while referral and email move back in the journey.
We're now armed with a general sense of what order we might want to do things in that's different from what we're doing. What sort of resource requirements are we going to need? For that, we turn again to Google Analytics benchmarking. Note that at the top of the screen, Google selects the tier of competitors that our site traffic belongs in, based on the data our site has provided to Google. Instead of going with what Google selects as our default, select the next tier up - the literal next level:
What will happen is that most of your benchmarks will turn red and look scary. That's okay: instead of telling you how your peers are doing, you're now learning what it's going to take to get to that next level. Here's my site:
Sure does look scary, but that's okay. This is aspirational, where the site needs to go to compete at a higher level. The easiest way to understand this chart is to export it and do a benchmark vs. actual calculation to see how much more the benchmark is than your actual:
Above, we now have a sense of how much more time, effort, money, and people we'll need to dedicate to each channel to hit that next level. To reach the next level of SEO, I'd need to invest 121% more effort than I am now in building links, in creating link worthy content, etc. I don't have to do a huge amount with social media. My public relations efforts are quite terrible; it will take 8x the amount of resources to reach that next level, so I'd better be prepared to invest heavily in talent or contract out to a PR agency. Let's not even get started about my email game.
Once we build a new strategy to get to that next level, keep a close eye on your paths to conversion. Look for new paths or paths that previously were in the cheap seats to suddenly take prominence. In the example of medium to large from the customer journey tool, we saw that overall path to conversion lengthen. Validate this in your analytics to see whether your unique path to conversion lengthens as you reach that next level:
Above, we see paths going past 10 steps at line 2, a sign that the path to conversion has gotten longer.
While this method isn't completely foolproof, it's a far better, more informed answer to the question of "what can we do to get to the next level" than shrugging your shoulders or simply making things up. Try it as you begin your next year's marketing planning and see what answers you get.
This also brings us to the end of our customer journey series. Thanks for reading!
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