Which Marketing Channels Do Customers Use Before Buying?
Understanding the path customers take before transacting is critical for any successful business. Here, I've used a Sankey Diagram to do just that!
Note: All data and conclusions below are hypothetical and not related in any way to Expedia Group.
This month’s SWD Challenge was to propose a question, and answer it using a data visualization.
A question I was asked at work recently was about where our customers come from, and which touchpoints did they interact with before purchasing. While I shared the conclusion of the Expedia results with the team, here I’m going to show hypothetical data with different conclusions, but using the same template.
How can I display this data?
The goal was to share this information in a clear, intuitive way. I didn’t want to have a series of bar charts at each stage of the customer journey as it would quickly become too complicated.
Then I thought back to what Amber Thomas mentioned in her run through of Sankey Diagrams (part of Jon Schwabish’s “One chart at a time” series) that they are great for “anything that moves in one direction from one thing to the next” - which is exactly what I have!
Answers (and more questions!)
Even at first glance, you can see that there’s quite a big difference between how new and existing customers move between channels.
Click here for interactive version
New customers mainly come in using high-cost channels - Paid Search (29.6%) and Affiliate (24.8%)
56.2% of new customers only interact with one channel before purchase - suggesting that high-cost channels are good at bringing in customers who are ready to buy
Should we put more effort into acquiring new customers through low-cost channels?
Existing customers mainly use low-cost channels – Email (30.9%) and Direct (26.8%)
They shop around more before transacting, with 62.0% going on to interact with at least one more channel before purchasing - is there a reason customers leave before coming back through another channel?
63.6% of customers coming in through the Affiliate channel go on to purchase- why are we losing the remaining 36.4% to other channels? Could there be issues with affiliate links?
Visualizing this data as a Sankey Diagram brings out the key differences beween the behaviour of new and existing customers. Other filters such as customer segmentation could also be added for even more insights.
Special thanks to the Flerlage Twins for their very useful Sankey template.