Understanding the 5 Phases of the Customer Journey

Understanding the 5 Phases of the Customer Journey

Every time your online store welcomes new customers, those customers go through a specific decision-making process to determine whether or not to give you their business. That process starts with their very first interaction with you and continues even after they make a purchase. Understanding your customers’ journey is a crucial part of running a successful business: by knowing the five steps of the buying process, you can provide value at each step. The more value you offer potential clients, the more likely they are to complete the customer journey. Here are the five phases to know about:

  • Awareness/Discovery
  • Consideration
  • Decision/Purchase
  • Retention
  • Advocacy


The first step customers take is discovering a business.

The first step in the journey of all customers is to first become aware of a business. In most cases, the customer has a problem that a specific product will solve, even if the problem seems small. For example, a person wants to take a warm, scented bath as the weather is getting colder and a bath bomb is the perfect solution. Finding the answer to a problem most often begins with an online search. This is where your business has the opportunity to be found, making potential customers aware that you have the products to meet their needs. At this stage, there are a few different kinds of content you can deliver to provide value (which, in this case, will be in the form of information):

  • An “About” page
  • Product how-tos and tutorials
  • Blog posts

The Customer Journey Continues with Consideration

Many customers have to decide not only between different products, but also different companies.

Once customers are aware of your business, they then move on to the consideration stage. Depending on how thorough their product research was, it’s possible that they’ve picked out a few different businesses that could meet their needs. They’ll weigh each one with varying degrees of thoroughness (some customers may only need seconds to consider, while others may take days, weeks, or even months, depending on the product). During the consideration stage, you can provide value to encourage customers to choose your business through the use of:

  • FAQs
  • Customer reviews
  • Free samples
  • Demo videos


Deciding to purchase an item is the third step in the journey of a customer.

The next stage in the customer journey is the decision-making stage. Here, they will decide whether or not to actually make a purchase from your business. If they choose not to buy, their journey with your business ends for now, but could be rekindled down the road if you offer other products that may meet their future needs. However, all businesses obviously hope for the other outcome, which sees customers choosing to make a purchase. You can help encourage that response by providing value through:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Customer reviews
  • Sales and coupons


Keeping a customer is often easier than earning a new one.

Many businesses believe that the customer journey ends when customers make a purchase. However, that assumption is wholly incorrect. It’s significantly easier (and approximately five times less expensive) to retain loyal customers than it is to bring in new ones. That’s why, after a customer buys, you move in to the retention stage together. This stage focuses on keeping the customer happy with your business even after their purchase arrives at their doorstep. You can offer them value at this stage by:

  • Asking for their feedback
  • Asking for a testimonial
  • Sending them tips for product use
  • Sending them loyalty sales/discounts etc.
  • Setting up a VIP program


A customer willingly advocating for your brand is a powerful marketing tool.

Finally, the last stage in the customer journey transforms them from just a customer to a brand advocate who happily says great things about your business to generate word-of-mouth marketing. This step is the hardest to achieve. If and when a customer reaches this stage, it means your business has done a great job at providing value and service to your clients. In addition to providing value at every stage in a consumer’s journey, the best way to convert customers to advocates is to be attentive to their needs and respectful of the people behind your brand’s success. When you actually reach the advocacy stage with a customer, you can continue to provide value by:

  • Running a referral program to reward their efforts
  • Continuing to maintain excellent service
  • Regularly engaging with your advocates if and when they reach out

Understanding the customer journey can help your business encourage consumers to pass through every stage of that journey, in order to build a successful and loyal audience base from which to thrive.

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