The customer journey has become increasingly more complex over the past decade. In part, this is due to the impact of digital and the numerous channels now available to find that ultimate product, service, experience or simply socialise. But what effect has this ‘evolution’ had on your understanding of the customer?

Increasing sales while decreasing the loss of potential customers is the aim of every business. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But what do you know about the customer who buys? Do you know who the non-converting customer is? How can you make this customer more likely to buy?

These are just a few of the essential questions that must be answered to improve acquisition.

Although it can be challenging to understand the journey customers take, it’s very important to understand what makes a prospect convert to a customer. Technology allows you to track customers across multiple platforms and devices – better now than ever before – but as channels increase, and with pending laws such as the general data protection regulation (GDPR), which comes into play in 2018, the impact on brands to garner consumer data will be greatly reduced. It's a ticking clock and businesses will need to act quickly.

So how can you make a start on doing this? Well here are five tips you can look at to help you make the most of the customer data you already have to hand:

1. Own direct relationships

Don’t be afraid to develop direct relationships with customers - even if you don’t engage them directly. Brands that don’t control the end experience are stuck with the idea that the retailer or sales channel owns the relationship with the consumer. It doesn’t have to be the case. Now more than ever, brands need to build emotional connections with their target audiences to have any chance of standing out. The best way to do this is to speak directly with your audience. Ultimately, the channels are facing the same issues: repeat purchase, buying more often, buying more. Work with them and you’ll be able to integrate the complete journey.

2. Know and understand your audience

People will part with their data as long as there’s a benefit in it for them. So don’t be afraid to ask. If you tell me you want to send me a gift on my birthday I’ll gladly tell you my date of birth. And if my postcode reveals the nearest store to get my gadget repaired, this will save me from trekking somewhere hours away. Transparency is key. Be honest about what you’re asking and why. In return, you’ll gain trust and likely the information you want to know.

3. Location

Become a geography teacher. I’m not proposing you get yourself a corduroy jacket with padded elbows but you can use your geo data to inform the rest of your business. The customer journey starts with your products being available in the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantities. If you understand actual consumption at a consumer level rather than at retail, you’ll unlock saving in the £££’s. The new Amazon Dash Button is the best example, illustrating how manufacturers are building real-time insights into product consumption.

4. Update legacy systems

Start eliminating legacy systems. I know it’s not an easy task, but once you do or you at least start to streamline your processes, you’ll immediately see value. In order to build a true picture of your customer journey, every aspect of your old systems, processes and skillsets need to be updated and ideally all located in one place. Digital pure-play companies don’t have this issue as their data and insights drive every aspect of their business. But companies who have digital marketing as an offshoot of their main marketing strategy risk being left behind – this needs to be a combined team effort. Look at what millennials are doing with systems and bring old company systems in line.

5. Know your funnel - inside out

Once your data is streamlined and in one place, you’ll need to join it up and build an accurate picture of your consumer journey. Monthly or even weekly updates will allow you to use your data tactically to adjust your omnichannel strategy, and make the right expenditures, in the right place, at the right time. Organisations that report KPIs based on a customer journey avoid the channel silo mentality and ultimately provide a better experience for their customers.

Hopefully, these steps will help give you a better picture of the customer journey, improve acquisition and increase your engagement with your audience.


By Matt Hollingsworth, head of analytics at Aquila Insight

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at

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