Learn how customer journey analytics gives brands a single view to understand the complex customer journey—both online and offline—as third-party cookies disappear.

With more digital users and fewer data available to consistently identify users across visits, we must do a better job of understanding pain points and providing value on every single customer interaction. Here’s how to do it.

What is customer journey analytics?

Customer Journey Analytics is a way to understand our customers better throughout the complex series of transitions between offline and digital channels, which can look very different from one customer to another depending on the customer segment, demographic, etc. Key stakeholders need to have a good understanding of the end-to-end customer journey, the identified customer’s needs and expectations, and handoff areas between channels and touchpoints. That’s where customer journey analytics comes in!

Using customer journey analytics, we can better understand our consumers, who they are, what they shop for, their likes and dislikes, how to persuade them to purchase, and, ultimately, how to make them a life-long satisfied customer.  

Why is customer journey analytics important?

Virtually no facet of the human experience has been left untouched by the pandemic, including trends in customer shopping behavior that make customer journey analytics important.

Ecommerce exploded during the pandemic

During the pandemic, shoppers had to lean more on digital channels to fulfill their needs. All of this increased online activity and pushed ecommerce spending to record levels. While these levels were expected to stick even beyond the end of pandemic-driven social distancing, they didn’t. Customers returned to brick and mortar stores, and now e-retailers expect to see the market stabilize and grow more slowly.

Ecommerce growth is about to slow considerably, but total new spending will still be huge. Worldwide digital sales will grow 12.2% this year, slow by recent standards. But that will still amount to $603.68 billion more spending than last year, one of the largest leaps ever. (Source: Insider Intelligence, “Global E-Commerce Forecast 2022,” Feb.2, 2022)

What have we learned from ecommerce pandemic surge whiplash? Mostly that chance favors the prepared brand. Retailers who invested in maturing their data strategy before and during the pandemic, as well as those who have remained attentive to data privacy considerations, have fared the best. Also, competition is more fierce than ever, especially in North American markets.

Marketers are going to have to work harder to expand their audience, rather than rely on the easy low-hanging fruit of an automatically expanding base of shoppers.(Source: Insider Intelligence, “Global E-Commerce Forecast 2022,” Feb.2, 2022)

Marketers have struggled to keep pace with privacy regulations

At the same time, industry changes in response to government privacy regulation (e.g, CCPA and GDPR) have made data privacy restrictions increasingly strict. ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) and Enhanced Tracking Prevention prevent cookies from being able to identify users for as long as they once did, and, in many cases, companies have yet to make adjustments to their websites and their data strategies.

This can have huge effects on digital marketing programs. Marketers are having to rethink marketing and advertising strategies heavily dependent on third-party cookies and shore up plans to harness and develop the collection of first-party user data.

Digital marketing tools have evolved to serve customers in the “new normal”

As buying patterns continue to evolve, businesses must review how they serve their customers and which touchpoints are most effective (and where new ones need to be created). They must understand how the new cohort of consumers and prospects—who are leveraging online channels like never before and some for the first time—feel about the online experience, as well as their evolving expectations of their businesses. New phases of the customer journey are emerging. This makes customer journey analytics one of the most important tools in navigating the evolution of the new normal and what it means for your business.

Why do companies use customer journey analytics, and how does it help them?

Customer Journey Analytics software such as Glassbox, Adobe Customer Journey Analytics, Woopra, and Pointilist tie various customer channels and touchpoint data into a single view for conducting analysis of customer behavior across the customer journey.

With this analysis, marketers gain a view of the performance of each interaction’s contribution towards delivering an excellent customer experience. They help knit isolated, siloed interactions into these end-to-end journeys, allowing brands to cohesively analyze performance across channels, customers, and touchpoints. Customer journey analytics can translate, in real-time, the various customer signals across the journey into key insights about customers. For example, I recently purchased a gaming console at Best Buy. Customer journey analytics may have provided more relevant cross-sell suggestions to the email campaign I received based on my most recent purchases.

Snapshot from Adobe Customer Journey Analytics showing an analysis of integrated online and offline data.

What’s the difference between customer journey analytics and customer journey mapping?

Customer journey mapping is an important part of learning about how your customers interact with your brand. It is a visual representation of the key phases, various touchpoints, and areas of dissatisfaction that your users encounter during their journey.

This journey map is a static representation of the customer experience, which is helpful for making sure key stakeholders are aligned on the customer’s experiences. However, once the journey is mapped out and stakeholders aligned, analytics can be used to measure and optimize the key interactions that are most important in delivering the users’ desired outcome.

Customer journey analytics brings the journey map to life with real-time data and measurements across channels including customer surveys, operational metrics, and online and offline conversion rates. These can then be used to drive meaningful real-time actions based on data and insights.

Benefits of customer journey analytics

Companies are seeking ways to utilize their vast stores of customer data to unlock new sources of competitive advantage. Customer journey analytics can help unlock this value to the business by:

1. Helping businesses see a holistic customer picture. While the proliferation of customer channels has caused the voice and activities of the customers to be widely dispersed, customer journey analytics gives marketers a holistic customer view. By aggregating all customer data (including profiles and events) in a single platform, marketers can better identify trends and patterns across the user’s experience with the brand. Many firms can get honed in on optimizing a single channel metric, but they miss the context of that data point in the overall customer journey and how it affects down funnel metrics and experiences.

2. Identifying opportunities for optimizing the customer experience. Holistic customer views that include perceived or known pain points and needs are candidates for improved analytics to better measure performance and set baseline metrics and benchmarks. With improvement areas and analytics data in tow, you can brainstorm initiatives to tackle the identified challenges and design tests to iterate towards a better customer experience. 

3. Serving as a launchpad for more ambitious programs. For instance, can you use this deeper customer knowledge to anticipate future needs and deliver them through your various touchpoints and channels? Can you begin to leverage machine learning and AI to more intelligently fill in gaps in your customer understanding, model missing behavioral data from browser/mobile tracking restrictions, identify other customers who look like your ideal customers, personalize the journey for certain customer segments and fine-tune your growth strategies so that every dollar is invested in users who will drive Customer Lifetime Value? The opportunities are endless, but they begin with having a vision of where you want to go and strategically picking the right steps and investments to get there.

Best practices for customer journey analytics

Given the state of digital marketing discussed above plus the challenges in collecting and activating historically siloed customer data, it is critical that any comprehensive customer data strategy includes customer journey analytics. Here are some recommended best practices for implementing customer journey analytics in your organization:

  1. Begin by mapping the key customer journeys
  2. Identify pain points or root causes as well as the key interactions 
  3. Assess magnitudes of the pain points. Develop and prioritize initiatives to address them
  4. Baseline and assess performance of key metrics and KPIs on an ongoing basis

Creating value throughout the customer journey

Today’s winners will be those businesses who choose to invest in developing their customer data capabilities in the face of the many challenges. An important part of this story is continually delighting your customers and identifying opportunities to provide added value, which in turn engenders trust and a willingness to share even more data with you. 

This is, after all, how Gmail was born. Remember your apprehension when you first learned that Google would start placing ads next to your emails and the initial horror that Google was reading our emails? Well, I was horrified. But that quickly wore off, as I knew that Gmail was the best email product out there, and that a few ads next to my emails was a price I was more than happy to pay.

Marketers need to rediscover that sense of daring to create experiences that users are tripping over themselves to share their preferences with you and their experiences with others. Whoever can leverage analytics to do this in a trust-centered way is well positioned to win the competitive battles of tomorrow. Customer journey analytics is part of the solution, and Search Discovery can help you on this journey.

Contact us to talk to a customer journey analytics expert to help you deliver timely, unforgettable customer experiences.

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