What is a User Journey?

A lot of basic user journeys start with a landing page, homepage, product page or service page that leads to the completion of a form. With mobile and voice search dominating the beginning of many user journeys, it is important to consider user intent when designing landing pages.

Understanding User Intent vs. User Journey

While they are often used interchangeably, there are very specific differences between the user journey and defining user (or keyword) intent. Understanding how people search for a particular product or service, the “user intent” is part of the user journey but they are not the same. For example, user intent could be divided into the Navigational, Commercial, Informational & Transactional keywords commonly used to reach a specific goal or function. User Journey focuses on standardizing the pain points, motivations, and sequence of emotions experienced by the user as they navigate through search engines, keywords, and landing pages. 

How to build a simple User Journey map

  • Document the typical user experience for each entry point, what steps they must go through to reach a conversion point
  • Once collected, consider the emotions or logical reasons someone would be seeking these answers and any other customer information available
  • User Journey’s typically contains three elements to attract new business:
    • What is the current relationship with the brand? (Awareness / Reliability, Trust)
    • What are the logical or statistical reasons they should complete an action? (Interest / Desire)
    • What are the available solutions? How do they compare to the proposed solution? (Call to Action)
  • Some advanced remarketing considerations can also include:
    • What are the incentives for me to come back and repeat an action again? ( Loyalty / Lifetime Value of Customer)
    • Why would I want to share or brag about my experience? (Advocacy / Word of Mouth Marketing)

The Awareness phase begins when someone first experiences your brand, followed by Consideration phase when users perform research, compare pricing, features and other “Informational” intent designed to validate their interest. Sometimes applying a coupon or limited time offer can trigger the urgency of a user. This tactic can be used to reign in on newsletter lists during holidays or special brand events to trigger value purchasers to reconsider the offer.

Common Top of Funnel Channels (Awareness, Discovery, Paid Exposure)

  • Organic sources, such as SEO, social media, forums, email or word of mouth
  • Paid sources, such as affiliates, paid social, paid app ads, etc.

Common Mid Funnel Channels (Consideration / Trust)

  • Third party reviews, 5 star ratings
  • Press releases, influerencer mentions or referrals

Crux of Funnel Content (Conversion Assistance, Frequently Asked Questions, Getting Started Section)

  • Easy sign up process, clear CTA
  • Focused on Customer Acquisition, building customer base

The User Journey is especially important for product managers and conversion rate optimization, it helps customers by improving the language or flow of information so they have a clearer understanding of what they need to do. By encouraging a customer-centric mindset, User Journey mapping is a great way to illustrate motivations and emotional distress during the search process. By creating a single vision of what each User Journey is for there are fewer challenges in marketing the product. Discovering new pain points and opportunities is one of the key outcomes of eCommerce optimization using User Journey mapping.

User Flows

  • Starting Page: The first page that is measured for the User Flow, with each following page visit defining how traffic flows between them. The limitation of User Flow is that it can only measure the first three interactions.
  • Drop-offs: The drop-off rate is an indicator of where users gave up, for what purpose, and for how long will depend on recapturing user intent. If a page is performing poorly, it should be optimized or removed until concerns are resolved.
  • Segmentation: User Flows can become even more intent driven, providing segmentation for specific clusters of user activities or traffic source. A practical example of User flows can be found here.

All successful organizations participating in digital marketing or eCommerce should try to document and disclose the purposes for each landing page to clearly define each user journey. This is typically communicated through marketing technology or by a data analyst organizing the information within Google Analytics. Having a clear goal such as signing up for a new account, making a purchase, trial, or specific sale page makes it easier to map a logical user journey. All journey’s evolve over time and require ongoing data analysis to ensure that nothing is being missed.

If there are users visiting a website from the EU, they are protected by the GDPR. That means that all websites must consider the implications of the analytics data collection they participate in if they want to meet compliance.

User Journey Data Quality & Accuracy

Building an eCommerce website that is designed without user accessibility or GDPR compliance in mind can be an expensive mistake. This includes AODA policies if you live in Ontario. Outside of Ontario, the website should always consider auditory, vision, mobility, cognitive and neurological impairments to meet accessibility guidelines within your eCommerce web design scope. The lawful processing of user data requires an appropriate basis for processing. These can include

  • Consent of the Data Subject
  • A Contract
  • Legal Obligation to Controller
  • Legitimate Interests of Controller or a Third Party
  • Task Carried Out in Public Interest / Exercise of Public Authority

User Journey Accountability

In order to establish a standard of Internet Privacy, personal data must be processed responsibly and demonstrate compliance with EU and member state data protection laws. The policies of GDPR are essentially applied globally to any website that captures and stores information obtained by EU site visitors. Big brands and corporations have accountability to meet GDPR standards whether they are hosted in the United States, Mexico, Australia or Hawaii. Anywhere that an EU visitor can reach, the GDPR applies regardless of the location of the company that operates the website.

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