What does “Customer Journey” mean?

The term “Customer Journey” describes the path of potential customers through various touchpoints and stages until the purchase. The terms “Buyers Journey” or “User Journey” are sometimes used interchangeably with “Customer Journey” to be more inclusive and involve users who do not make a purchase in the process.

The Customer Journey can last from minutes to months and is divided into different phases. It is a holistic marketing strategy that focuses particularly on users and their behaviour. A Customer Journey can be very short or long and can repeatedly switch between points. There are many graphical representations of it.

The difference between the Sales Funnel and the Customer Journey is the orientation towards the goal. While the Sales Funnel only includes later steps of the Customer Journey and considers the sale as the goal, the Customer Journey describes the path of potential customers and is oriented towards acquiring and retaining them as customers.

Customer Journey Models

Like most topics in marketing, there are various models of the Customer Journey. Depending on the product or service being sold, there may be more or fewer touchpoints. Therefore, different models are suitable for representation and planning.

The most classic Customer Journey model consists of 5 points:

  1. Awareness – Interest is aroused
  2. Consideration – Interest is assessed and becomes more concrete
  3. Conversion – A purchase decision is made
  4. Retention – Experiences are gathered
  5. Advocacy – Experiences are shared with others

All models refer to this classic version and its touchpoints. For example, the following:

Moments of truth

According to the “Moments of Truth” model, the Customer Journey consists of three moments of truth.

  • First moment of truth – Potential customers become aware of a product through a stimulus. This could be TV advertising, ads, or brand design.
  • Second moment of truth – After purchasing a product, consumers evaluate it to see if they are satisfied and if all quality promises are met.
  • Third moment of truth – Based on their experience, customers express their opinions about the product, whether positive or negative. Especially today, in the era of social media and e-commerce, this step is particularly crucial. Positive reviews, in particular, are essential for the successful sale of a product.

Over time, other “moments of truth” have been coined by other companies and authors. These include:

  • Zero Moment of truth – Potential customers begin researching a product online. They seek information and solutions through advertising and reviews.
  • Ultimate Moment of truth – They form the basis for the Zero Moment of truth: The UMOT describes the moment when a customer shares experiences online, for example, on social media. In the age of social networks, this enhances relevance and visibility.

The Messy Middle Concept

The Messy Middle concept assumes that potential customers follow a specific sequence of research. They linger there before ultimately making a purchase decision.

An arbitrary trigger prompts potential customers to enter the research process at various points in the Customer Journey. The term “Messy Middle” comes from the assumption that users linger between exploration and evaluation in a loop before making a purchase.

If you want to learn more about the model, you can watch a video from Google about it here.

Consumer Decision Journey – McKinsey

The consulting firm McKinsey conducted a study in 2009 with over 20,000 participants from various industries and three countries. The results of this study form the basis for the CDJ model: The Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) model represents a section of the Customer Journey. It begins in the Consideration phase and ends with the Purchase.

The model is based on the assumption that the Customer Journey begins with the needs of users. Users search for solutions and satisfaction for these needs. They research the brands they know and weigh preferences and offers in their minds. Finally, they decide on the solution that suits them best. This turns users into customers who, through positive experiences, will consider your company again for their next purchase decision. Thus, a loop is created.

For a detailed insight into the study, McKinsey’s article on their own website provides further information. You can access it here.

And what does the Customer Journey mean for Your Online Marketing?

There are many different sales concepts and marketing strategies. Much of it reminds us of the AIDA model in the end, which is attributed to Elmo Lewis, who described it in a sales market as early as 1898. Here is the article on the topic: And what exactly is a sales funnel?

Of course, understanding the customer journey and having a functional sales funnel are essential for successful marketing and increasing sales. However, these various topics are closely intertwined. You’re probably also wondering what this means specifically for your online marketing campaigns?

If you’ve lost track or need support with your online marketing, we’re here to help. Feel free to reach out to us to schedule an initial consultation and kick-start your success!