Online Customer Journey: what it is

The online customer journey is a real journey that each of us makes, sometimes unconsciously, as a consumer. It starts from the stages prior to the purchase, the stage of the purchase itself and the post-purchase ones. This trip consists of 5 main stages that serve businesses to get to the consumer at the right time and with the right type of communication.

The 5 stages of the online customer journey

As mentioned above, the customer journey is divided into 5 main phases, specifically:
– Awareness
– Consideration 
– Purchase
– Retention
– Advocacy

These are preceded by the recognition of a need or desire that an individual has towards a product or service.

Stage number one: Awareness

The first step of the customer journey is awareness. At this stage people, after realizing that they need something they don’t have, start looking around and identifying which brand is able to meet their demands. These can become aware of a specific brand thanks to various online tools that technology offers to companies. Examples include sponsoring social media and website posts via Google Ads. Important in this, as in the other phases, is the WOM (Word of Mouth) that consumers have with those who have already had experience with the brand/ product/service. 

Stage number 2: Consideration

Once the individual has identified a range of products or services that suits him, he starts to compare them, looking for useful information online on various channels including social networks, forums and blog reviews. At this point he starts to create attitudes that can be positive or negative. In the first case the consumer will develop a propensity to buy and his journey will then continue towards the third stage. Otherwise he will start looking for a product more suited to his needs.

Stage number 3: Purchase

The most expensive stop for sellers, the purchase. Online purchases are increasing from year to year and also the quality of the service offered. Through e-commerce consumers can easily compare the various products and get the necessary information with a few clicks and even from home.
However the journey is not over here because there are two other phases that are just as if not more important for the creation of a loyal clients.

Stage number 4: Retention

This is the first stage after purchase one. It is one of the most important in that, once the customer consumes the product generates the first impressions and wonders: am I satisfied? Is it as I expected? Better? Worse? Was it easy to buy online? Etc.
In this phase in particular companies adopt techniques or personalized post-purchase retention strategies to push the customer to make further purchases at their site. Examples are e-mails containing discounts and offers sent after payment or e-mails regarding useful or complementary accessories already purchased.

Stage number 5: Advocacy

The fifth and final stage is about customers’ willingness to create online content in such a way as to influence other people’s customer journey. As mentioned above, the WOM is very important, so it is also very important to support customers with positive experiences. However, we must also take into account those who are not satisfied with their customer journey. In this case, companies must be able to make them change their minds. Basically, in this last phase it is useful to read and communicate with your customers to get feedback, so that you can change what is criticized by most.

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