The 5 Steps of the Digital Customer Journey

Zack Simon

5 min read

Sep 22, 2021

The 5 Steps of the Digital Customer Journey

Picture it: Your coworker tells you about this great new coffee shop in town. Suddenly you start to see flyers and stickers for this coffee shop everywhere on your commute to and from work. You think to yourself that maybe it’s worth giving this coffee shop a chance, so the next day you stop by. Not only is the coffee amazing, but the staff is super friendly. They even give you a free cookie with your purchase. 

You had an excellent experience. This is now your favorite coffee shop.

When we consider the digital side of things, there’s a process that starts with someone first learning of your company to actually becoming a loyal customer.

The customer’s first point of contact with your brand, all the way to their final purchase, subscription, or outreach on your website, is known as the digital customer journey.

What is the digital customer journey?

The digital customer journey is the path an online user takes to find your business. It’s a journey that’s made up of every single interaction a customer has with your company, from social media to your actual website.

There are five parts to the digital customer journey experience:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Fulfillment – commitment (email signup, form fill, something where they interact)
  4. Experience
  5. Loyalty

1. Awareness 

This is the point in the customer journey where you’re on the radar and your next customer first notices your brand. This can be through many different doors, from word of mouth to social media or ads. This is when first impressions are made and where you can reach your customers. One of the most significant differences to the digital customer journey as opposed to the physical-digital customer journey is that you have stronger control over your message with the digital journey. You control where your digital ads are displayed through social media, your website, and ad placement.

2. Consideration

Your customer has heard of you and is now thinking about how you might be able to help them. This is the step in the customer journey mapping where they visit your website and actually start to engage with your company and brand either directly on the site, through reviews on the internet, or social media. Once again, you have complete control here. Do you want the customer to truly consider your offer? Having a great website will help with that. Having excellent copy and a clear call to action also doesn’t hurt. 

3. Fulfillment 

In our coffee shop example, the fulfillment stage means an actual purchase. In the digital world, this could be a purchase, but it could also be a newsletter signup, a follow, or even a page view. Because fulfillment can mean many different things, it’s essential to define exactly what fulfillment looks like for you and your company. As part of your digital strategy, make sure you define your goals. This helps to ensure that the fulfillment you’re getting is what you want. Page views are great, but if you really want newsletter signups, make sure that’s what you’re tracking for so you don’t get lost in a sea of data.

No matter what action takes place, fulfillment is the place in your customer journey map where your customer commits. They’ve done their research and have decided that your product or service can solve their problem.

4. Experience

Does your product or service live up to your promises? This is where the customer will determine if what was expected is what they received and determine if they are satisfied. It is also where the first impression of your customer service takes place and can play a huge part in overall customer satisfaction. This is also why it’s essential to know the principles of customer experience for your business. 

So, if you promised a newsletter but didn’t deliver, that’s a bad experience. Or, if they fill out the “Contact Us” form and someone is in touch with them the same day? That’s a fantastic experience. 

Experience is arguably the most important step because this is where retaining a customer and creating loyalty takes place. Without great experience, the first three steps don’t mean much because a bad experience will deter a customer from making it to the next and final step: loyalty.

5. Loyalty

If your product or service delivers exactly what your customer expects, congratulations, you just gained a new loyal customer. Customer loyalty is all about whether or not your customer actually continues to use your service or product.

Although the physical customer experience journey is linear, the digital customer experience takes place as a big ole circle where all the touch points are connected. For example, the loyalty step feeds directly back to the awareness step because if you gain a loyal customer, they are more likely to pass on the good word about your product or service to their friends and family and even share on social media.

The circular digital customer journey tends to get just a bit complex, where certain steps are either skipped altogether or combined with another step. For example, let’s say your favorite YouTuber highly recommends a mobile app that up until now you had never heard of but now, after their raving review, you suddenly feel compelled to download. 

In one fell swoop, you were made aware of this product, considered it, and have followed through with fulfillment.

How The Digital Customer Experience Relates to CX.

The digital customer journey is also directly related to Customer Experience because a great Customer Experience also starts with awareness and ends with loyalty. Customer Experience is all about listening to your customers’ wants and needs. If customers feel heard, they are more likely to not only continue purchasing your product but are also likely to share with others how great your product or service is.

Great Customer Experience can also help to figure out why customers are getting stuck at certain stages in the digital customer journey. Maybe customers are making it to the Consideration stage and visiting your website but not actually making a purchase. By conducting exercises such as surveys, you will be able to figure out exactly why customers are not acting in the way that you expect them to—and how make the right changes.

Understanding the digital customer journey and how it works for a business is essential to reaching a potential customer and keeping a loyal one. Customer behavior, interaction, and experience, whether digital or physical, make all the difference for a business. Gaining customer loyalty and engagement can build your business community.

It’s Time to Turn Visitors into Loyal Customers

Here at the Ranch, we take the Digital Customer Journey seriously. We know that a great Customer Experience and amazing digital product can turn customers into super fans and help you hit your goals. Since a customer can often make multiple touch points with your brand, we use an iterative approach of proven CX strategies to help you validate your assumptions or offer a new path to success. 

Ready to get started? Get in touch (and we promise an actual human will call you).  

Zack Simon

Author Big Nerd Ranch

Zack is an Experience Director on the Big Nerd Ranch design team and has worked on products for companies ranging from startups to Fortune 100s. Zack is passionate about customer experience strategy, helping designers grow in their career, and sharpening consulting and delivery practices.

Speak with a Nerd

Schedule a call today! Our team of Nerds are ready to help

Let's Talk

Related Posts

We are ready to discuss your needs.

Not applicable? Click here to schedule a call.

Stay in Touch WITH Big Nerd Ranch News