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Digital consumer journey stages exposed: From awareness to purchase

In the traditional world of marketing, organizations started off with a product, did some TV or radio ads, and then customers went to brick and mortar shops to choose among brands and buy a product.

Today’s digital customer experience is vastly different. There are many more touch points to connect with consumers. They are exposed to digital media channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.) and an array of online platforms (websites, forums, blogs, etc.).

There are also many more ways to buy the product, including via a website, a mobile app, in the physical store–or even a combination of these with the rise click and collect. Now we’re even ordering with our voice via our voice-assisted devices.

The average household today has more than five Internet-connected devices. Our customer journey—from awareness to purchase—has become one of many pathways and multiple devices.

And each of these devices has multiple points of interaction. From calls and texts to messaging apps, social media, Netflix binging and Candy Crush, the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on their phone each day.

Think about the last product you bought. How many times did you interact with the brand online as you did your research? How many times did you visit the brand’s website before you bought? Did you interact with their web chat or online help?

Clearly, there are more online touchpoints and digital consumer journey stages than ever before, and businesses need a way to follow, map and understand this customer journey from beginning to end.

What is a digital customer journey?

A customer journey identifies all customer interactions with your business from the customer’s point of view.

The digital customer journey combines all of the digital touchpoints a customer has with a brand and aggregates data collected such as: basic online consumer data, information about transactions, browsing history on all devices, and online customer service interactions.

Why Improve the Digital Customer Journey?

Many businesses have used customer journey analytics to focus on the performance of specific touchpoints in an effort to improve customer experience. However, customer journey research by McKinsey and Co. has shown that focusing on the larger journey – interactions over time and multiple touchpoints – has a greater impact on business performance. Holistic journey performance improvement has a 30%-40% greater impact on customer satisfaction and a 20%-30% greater impact on value and business outcomes than touchpoint performance.

The business benefits of digital customer journey data

Customer experience performance data and digital business metrics can assist in many ways:

Testing capabilities

By replaying exactly what the customer sees, Product, Marketing and IT departments can test website changes, website content, campaigns and even microsites before they go live. This allows for better workflows and journey optimization.

Site usability monitoring & IT troubleshooting

With 40% of consumers abandoning a website if a page takes more than three seconds to load, site usability must be fine-tuned. The digital consumer has little patience, so monitoring usability can significantly impact the business. Customer acquisition, conversion rates, retention and even SEO rankings can be improved by analysis of experience and performance data.

Reproduce & diagnose errors

If something goes wrong (even if it’s not visible to the customer), performance data and access to session replays can immediately pinpoint what to fix. This helps with rapid diagnosis and problem solving and eliminates the need to tediously and repeatedly reproduce the error.

Improved customer experience

For the user experience designer, the purpose of journey mapping is to identify gaps and touchpoints in the customer experience that are disjointed or frustrating. These might be:

  • Difference in experience between devices, when a user moves from one device to another
  • Gaps and disconnects between content or site categories, where the user might get frustrated
  • Gaps between channels (for example, where the experience of going from social media to the website could be better)

According to a report from Forrester Research, “Understanding the specific devices, touchpoints and interactions is the only way to know if your digital investments will directly improve a customer experience.”

Most of all, a digital journey map puts the customer at the center of the organization’s thinking. It demonstrates how both mobile and web layouts impact customer behaviors.

Digital customer journey mapping

A digital customer journey map is a complete framework that shows you how users connect with your brand and product digitally. It shows all the different stages that customers go through as they interact with your digital channels, from awareness, to consideration, to purchase.

How to create a digital customer journey map

When looking at digital consumer behavior with customer journey analytics tools, you should consider the following features:

100% session recording & replay

If you’re going to the effort of creating a customer journey map, you should have the digital truth. A session recording tool will help you capture what your customers are doing on your website—from their perspective. It should record all of the digital consumer behavior: every click, swipe and tap as well as the device type and browser so you can see the full picture. Look for a tool that can capture web, mobile web and native mobile app activities to get the most bang for your buck.

You should be able to replay all your web and mobile app sessions in the exact same way they were experienced by your customers. But keep in mind that the customer doesn’t always see everything that occurs on your digital assets. So find a tool that captures both the client and server-side of your website or mobile app so you get a 360-degree view to better inform your customer journey research.

And if you’re going to the expense of implementing a session replay tool, don’t settle for something that just captures a portion of your sessions. Extrapolated data doesn’t give you the whole story. Insist on 100% session capture.

Of course, capturing these recordings means storage, which can be expensive and have a big impact on the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your solutions. When capturing millions or even billions of sessions every month, we’re talking big. Consider how solutions compress collected data so it can be stored for as long as suits you or is required by regulations for your industry.

Automated customer journey mapping

Innovative customer experience solutions can give you a visual map of your customers’ digital journeys. By capturing visitors’ actions on your website and mobile, these tools automatically show the steps customers take as they interaction with your digital assets.

Most customer journey mapping solutions require you to tag, code or configure events. This takes a lot of time and maintenance as they have to be updated when changes are made to your website or app. Opt for the maintenance free route and look for a solution that offers a tagless deployment.

Also, your software should let you dive into certain paths and steps to understand what’s happening at each of the consumer journey stages. Glassbox’s Augmented Journey MapTM flags where customers are struggling (complete with a Struggle Score) and where customers are dropping out of the journey including an Abandonment Rate at each stage. These kinds of KPIs can help your business understand the impact that poor user experience can have your bottom line.

Security & privacy

Highly sensitive recorded information requires the highest levels of data security and privacy and that includes data captured on your website and mobile apps. Things to consider before you purchase include if and how sensitive data is blocked or omitted from capture, data encryption, role-based access controls and deployment options.

Analytics tools for digital customer journeys

Now that you have a digital customer journey map, it’s time to get to work to understand where customers are struggling (and why) as well as why digital marketing and sales funnel conversions are underperforming. Here are some essential tools for improving digital customer experience:


You can decide on your own criteria for any marketing funnel in digital marketing, ideally by selecting a specific customer journey map for marketing (or maybe you’ve got a tool that supports free-text search). For example, you might want to create a funnel of the entire purchase experience for all the traffic coming from Facebook. Then you can narrow it down to all the sessions where visitors spent more than 20 seconds on the “Special Offers” page but didn’t click to buy. With this data segmented into a digital marketing and sales funnel, you can start to understand the content marketing customer journey: why people struggle, where and why they are abandoning a transaction, and why they’re not converting.

Customer journey filters

To optimize customer experience on a particular page, try filtering your session recordings by:

  • Mobile device
  • Operating system
  • Geographic location
  • Mouse movements
  • Customer demographics
  • Customer segment
  • Customer struggles
  • Traffic sources
  • Amount of time spent on page

These variables, and more, can help you to fine tune and understand who is struggling most, across which devices and locations, what issues were encountered, and how to fix them for better outcomes.

Click maps

A click map shows you on average how many times a specific element was clicked, was changed (e.g. data populated in a field) and how much time was spent on it, within a given timeframe. Use analysis of this experience data to understand if the behavior of an individual customer or visitor is representative of the overall digital consumer behavior on a page or web element and if the issue you’re witnessing in a specific session is a wider problem experienced by many customers.

Abandonment rate indicator

More advanced customer mapping tools can give you an idea of where your customers are abandoning their journey to conversion and how often this occurs, allowing you to create a customer decision journey example. This helps you prioritise steps in the customer value journey to maximize your impact to revenue in the shortest amount of time.

Flexible data exporting

Everyone in the organization who is involved in customer journey strategy needs access to the data – IT, marketing, product, distribution, customer service. Choose a customer journey map solution that lets you export the raw customer journey data, real-time scenario-based data, or even batches of data so everyone has access to the digital truth.

Augmented Journey Map™ from Glassbox

At Glassbox, we have one single platform, for documenting a digital customer journey. It supports web and mobile app session recordings, replays and analysis. Glassbox enables businesses to see not only what online and mobile customers are doing but also why they are doing it. Visit our Augmented Journey Map™ page to learn more and book a demo.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2017 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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