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ECOM 101: How Adaptive Experiences Impact the Customer Journey

August 18th, 2023 | 7 min. read

ECOM 101: How Adaptive Experiences Impact the Customer Journey Blog Feature

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The customer journey—which we’ve written about before—is a foundational component of any effective ecommerce strategy, certainly any strategy that hopes to build long term customer relationships. Through the customer journey, retailers are able to interact with new and existing users across a range of digital touch points and channels, encouraging repeated engagement and gleaning increasingly detailed knowledge about how an individual is likely to behave. 

With a detailed and intuitive customer journey map, your business can pinpoint the various stages at which you want to communicate with and influence your customers, be that upon their first visit to your site, immediately following a purchase, or in the wake of a sign-up to a newsletter or social promotion.  


But this is just the beginning. 


Once you’ve built your map and defined those stages, you need to be able to design experiences that are uniquely suited both to the customer and where the customer is at. Without these, you may be able to see what an individual is doing, but you won’t be able to act on it. 


That’s where adaptive and dynamic experiences become so crucial. These are the moments when you and your customers have the chance to collide, where you can demonstrate value and provide relevant services.  


These experiences let your customers know that you have what they need, and you always have it when they need it. 


Uniting digital experience optimization with the customer journey 


In a recent blog, we discussed digital experience optimization, and how it creates customized value-adds based on an ongoing understanding of what customers want and expect from your brand. Building adaptive customer journey experiences is just one application of such a strategy—though it may be the one which best demonstrates how malleable this strategy can be if applied creatively and with a focus on constant adaptation. 


Envision a brand new customer with whom your brand has had no previous interaction. They land on your ecommerce page and begin to search around for some items. This is where adaptive experiences start coming into play—all the way at the beginning. While they may be simple at first, such as recommended products connected to something the customer added to a basket, they have already become a powerful driver in guiding that customer along. And the more information you gather from the individual’s movement on your site, the more avenues that you can provide them to take the next step in their journey.  


That’s what makes adaptive experiences such a powerful tool in mapping a given customer’s journey. Because they are deployed in response to specific behaviors, they simultaneously allow you to catalog what steps this particular customer is prone to taking while shopping online and to organically suggest various escalations that are suited to your and the customer’s needs. Even better, the more of these experiences that the customer engages with, the better position you’re in to provide even more sharply tailored ones in the future. 


A multi-channel journey creates an omnichannel experience 


As with many uses of digital experience optimization, adaptive experiences extend well beyond the valence of your webpage. As a result, they allow you to craft and track a customer journey that includes an ecommerce site, social media channels, email interactions, and sometimes even brick-and-mortar locations. In short, the more adaptive and dynamic the experiences you offer along the journey are, the more likely they are to help synthesize all the different ways in which you and the customer can communicate. 


Let's revisit that first-time customer from the last section. After a positive and speedy experience on your site—motivated by tailored prompts based on their searches—they’ve purchased a number of items and signed up for email coupons. The coupons they receive will be based on what they purchased, but could be expanded to other relevant items if you were to offer them a survey about what products and deals they find most appealing. Now, you’re able to incentivize repeated journeys to the purchase stage, each driven by more and more data which you can leverage for a more satisfying and personalized experience. With the help of these experiences, you’ve carried your customer from consideration to purchase and now into retention, with engagement across two distinct channels. 


But why stop there? Say you’re a clothing retailer with a trendy new line coming in for the Fall with items you know that returning customer might enjoy—why not let them know that, if they purchase from and post about the line on social media, they can be entered into a raffle or receive exclusive discounts? Now, you’ve encouraged them to extend their journey onto another channel and into the advocacy stage! By enticing them with products you know they’ll enjoy—and the promise of further savings—you’ve given them a reason to go to bat for you, all because of how you’ve shown you’ve gone to bat for them at every previous stage! 


Adaptive digital experiences take the customer journey to greater destinations 


Every business dreams of cultivating a ride-or-die customer base—those who are with their brand every step of the way, returning again and again to purchase and promote with equal enthusiasm. But you’ll only ever achieve that if your customers believe that you’re with them every step of the way as well. 


Adaptive digital experiences are, without a doubt, the best way to do so. Not only do they offer an ever-expanding range of ways—both large and small—to build a rapport with your customer base, but they routinely reassert your brand’s unique value, based on a customer’s unique needs.  


That’s what you want at the forefront of a customer’s mind every time they’re wondering whether to take that leap from consideration to purchase or from purchase to advocacy. You want to give them the “why,” and to make it the easiest “why” they’ve ever had to consider. And even once they’ve hit the “checkout” button, you want them to continue to think about what you can do for them.  


That’s what keeps customers coming back. That’s what keeps the journey going.