Using Google Analytics to Measure the Customer Journey: Part 1

An introduction to the customer buying cycle

Getting to Know the Customer Buying Cycle

Uncovering what turns someone from a lead into a customer is a challenge that all businesses face on a regular basis. Marketers must constantly analyze how people interact with their businesses—or why they don’t—and determine what helped turn them into a customer.

That’s where Google Analytics comes in. An industry leader in analytics, it tracks, analyzes, and reports site data in a way that makes measuring and understanding the full customer journey much simpler and more effective. A useful tool for any organization with a website, even those that don’t sell products online, it’s worth learning the basics (at the very least) to better hone your marketing efforts based on existing website user data.

As you probably already know, understanding each step in the customer buying cycle is crucial for successful marketing. The data gained from Google Analytics allows businesses to identify specific patterns that indicate to marketers what they should be concentrating on. In this two-part series, we explore the customer buying cycle and share some tips to get you started using Google Analytics to track their journey.

What is the Customer Buying Cycle?

There are 5 stages in the customer journey:

  • Awareness: When a customer has a need and recognizes that your online business could possibly fulfill it.
  • Consideration: When a customer begins to assess how well yours and other businesses can meet that need.
  • Interest: The customer leans toward one solution, which ultimately results in a purchase.
  • Purchase: The actual process of ordering and purchasing from your business.
  • Loyalty: The satisfied customer continues to purchase from your business.

Why Is It So Important?

A customer’s expectations for your business will change according to which stage of the buying cycle they’re in. Adopting a strategic approach to identify user behavior on your website for each stage in the buying cycle will help you develop a plan to move your customers from consideration to purchase.

Taking Advantage of This Information

Being aware of the different buying cycle stages and the importance of each stage is one thing, but actually gathering the right data to learn what your customers want to know is another beast entirely.

Fortunately, Google Analytics allows you to view a plethora of data related to your customers’ behaviors and interaction with your site.

Let’s take a simple example: on site search keywords. By monitoring the keywords visitors are using to search for content on your website, you can determine which phase of the buying cycle they’re in.

For example, a search for “smartphones” is a very general term, which indicates that this person is most likely in the awareness or consideration stage of the buying cycle. However, a search for “blue Samsung S7 Edge” is much more specific and suggests that this person is farther along in the buying cycle. A search term this specific indicates that the individual is closer to making a purchase.

Knowing what customers want at different stages of the customer journey enables you to offer different paths on your website catered to visitors in each stage. These individuals will already know which stage they’re in, so all you need to do is point them in the right direction to nudge them along the path towards purchasing.

So, how exactly do you track the data points to accurately map your customer’s journey? Check out the second article in this series on tracking results stage by stage.