Customer journey is the term used to describe the ongoing relationship between a consumer and a product, brand, or company.

The word customer can mean many things. Customers can be patients, clients, fans, followers, viewers, shoppers, employees — even stakeholders. The phrase customer journey can refer to relationships in both the B2C and B2B worlds and can include experiences across channels as well as departments within a company or an organization.

Customer journeys occur through a series of interactions — at every touchpoint — with your brand. A well-planned digital marketing strategy can help guide the way. The marketer’s goal for any customer journey should be to create a string of seamless, personalized experiences over many channels: email, mobile, social, advertising, and the web.

The first step to building relationships through customer journeys is putting your customer’s experience at the center of everything. Prospects and customers don’t see your organization as you might see it: separate teams across departments — marketing, sales, and service. They see your brand simply as one experience.

It doesn’t matter if your customers speak with a member of your sales team, call a tech support representative, receive a promotional email, or even interact with your product on their own. Each experience is an interaction along the customer journey, and consumers expect a great experience every single time.

The customer journey begins before the company or customer might even realize a relationship is developing. This makes it critical to establish and nurture your brand presence in the community and across all channels.

For example, let’s say someone is speeding through a website and sees a banner ad. Maybe he or she only reads it briefly and doesn’t think about it at all. Weeks later, someone mentions the product, and suddenly the prospect thinks, “I feel like I’ve seen that company’s ad.” An impression has been made, and the customer journey has begun.

Here’s another example: A 5-year-old is given a doll for her birthday. She’s never seen one like it before, but she instantly falls in love with it. Although the doll company doesn’t know that the little girl has its product, the customer journey has begun.

As long as a relationship with — or even an opinion about — a company, brand, or product exists, the customer journey continues. This is true even when a company is no longer there to help guide the experience. So if a company is bought or goes out of business — or a product line is discontinued — it doesn’t mean the customer journey is over.

The journey also continues if customers are dissatisfied with a product, brand, or company. They might say, “I’ll never spend another cent on them as long as I live, and I’ll tell everyone I know how unhappy I am with my experience.”

Although the customer is unwilling to invest any more money in the company, a relationship still exists. In this case, it’s a negative one — and this customer might leave an impression on others. The customer journey continues, although it will be much harder for the company to guide it.

To summarize: The best marketers manage customer journeys as if they will never end. Customers are in the driver’s seat, but companies can be right there with them, nudging them in the right direction.

Marketing automation software can help manage the customer journey for each individual. With functionality for determining audiences and creating relevant content quickly, you can build your marketing strategy around dynamic and personalized content — all from one interface. This frees you up to spend more time thinking about what you do best: growing your business.
Marketing Cloud helps customers illustrate their marketing strategies with journey maps in Journey Builder. A journey map is a visualization of various customer interactions with your brand. For marketers, these maps often include experiences on multiple channels. Paths or branches on the map express possible different experiences that might be triggered based on customer behavior.

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