Customer Journey 2.0: how to keep up with touchpoints


In our digital age, customers no longer follow a linear path from consideration to purchase. Research by Google has shown that the customer journey is much more complex.

A classic customer journey contains the following phases: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty and Promotion. There are many different touchpoints that a consumer passes through before deciding to solve their problem with a purchase. A thorough understanding why the customer ultimately does or does not choose your product is crucial for making the right decisions to increase your turnover.

For 6 months, Google has observed clickstream data from thousands of online users, as part of their research. Conclusion? The customer journey appears to be way more complex than we thought.

Below you will find 3 different customer journeys showing that consumers go through much more complicated processes before they buy something:


Ella's customer journey for face cream

Some consumers are dedicated researchers. This is shown in their customer journey. Ella is a textbook example of a true researcher. She does not follow a linear path in the customer journey. Once she finds out more about a specific brand or product, she broadens her search again. This way you get a customer journey shaped like an accordion instead of a funnel. She looks at some brands before she finally decides to make her purchase in a store.

The 4 mobile searches from Ella (130 touchpoints)

  1. What is a good hypoallergenic face cream?
  2. Are (Brand A) face creams hypoallergenic?
  3. Which brands of facial creams are hypoallergenic?
  4. Facial Cream (Brand B) hypoallergenic review

Bart's customer journey for a new speaker

Sometimes a consumer will first try to solve a problem without making a purchase. This is how Bart first wants to solve noise on his speaker. If this turns out to be too complicated, Bart decides to replace his speaker. Now the real customer journey begins. Bart, however, compares several products on several sites. With every new search he looks at the top results regardless of whether these are ads or organic results. Bart will use Google search, YouTube reviews and online test scores to evaluate a product before he buys it.

Bart's 3 mobile searches (257 touchpoints)

  1. speaker static
  2. how to choose speakers
  3. speaker with best sound

Pia's search for the perfect chocolates

Consumers turn out to be very handy with search engines. They're also using increasingly more touchpoints. Pia's search for ideal chocolates seems to be traditional, but the customer journey here also has multiple touchpoints. Pia has done enough research in the meantime. For example, she has investigated different chocolate gift shops and types of chocolates before deciding to go to the store.

Pia did 1 desktop search (20 touchpoints)

  1. Free chocolates gift

Conclusion of the study

The customer journey differs per user and even takes different forms. People differ in their search behaviour and this results in different types of customer journeys. At the same time, we see that many more different touchpoints are needed to make a purchase.


3 golden tips for your online marketing funnel:

What insights can you draw from Google's research to optimize your online marketing funnel for a complex customer journey?

Use broader KPIs to measure results

Always look further than just impressions, clicks and conversions. Also try to link these to orders, sales and ROI. These provide more insight into long-term growth.

Be relevant and attract the right customers

Optimize campaigns until they are as relevant as possible to your ideal audience. Some customers deliver more ROI than others. Attract the most valuable customers and reduce costs for customers who are less interesting.

Experiment with automation

It takes a lot of time to tune your marketing tunnel to the countless different customer journeys. However, using AI makes it much easier to predict customer intentions. AI helps to find the hidden link between KPI's and consumer behavior. Marketing automation software and AI from Google Ads or Facebook ads have very advanced tools to reach your ideal audience, at the right time and in the right format. This frees up a lot of time for other, more high-level tasks. So make sure to use this in your marketing strategy.


Sources study Google:
Google partnered with Verto Analytics to analyze the consumer opt-in Verto Smart Cross-Device Audience Measurement Panel for click-stream data of n=2,989 individuals over a period of 6 months.