What is Path to Purchase and How Can You Use it?

Laura Caveney
18th June 2021
Click Attribution

Understanding the path to purchase is a key way to optimise your marketing. This blog walks you through what path to purchase is, how to track it and get more results.

On the quest for growth, marketers can be quick to try every channel and campaign type and hope something sticks.

In this digital age, there are more and more touchpoints and journeys to track than ever before. This makes tracking the path to purchase difficult for many marketers. And, when you’re testing every channel, you’re giving yourself a data headache.

But don’t worry.

In this blog, we’re going to explain:

Sound good? Let’s get stuck in!


What is the path to purchase?

The path to purchase is the journey a user takes across channels and campaigns to convert from a prospect into a customer.

It can also be called the customer journey and generally consists of 3 main stages: the awareness stage, the consideration stage and the decision stage.

customer journey stages in the path to purchase


Related: Read our full blog on the customer journey stages available and how to track them.

The issue with each stage of the customer journey or the path to purchase is that they can be made up of multiple touchpoints. According to Think with Google, customer journeys could be made up of 500 touchpoints for products like flights.



Stages in the path to purchase

Path to purchase, or the customer journey is made up of three distinct stages: the awareness stage, the consideration stage and the decision stage.

Some marketers would also include the evaluation stage where users experience your company and give feedback. Other marketers also include the retention and advocacy stages where you make a customer a repeat buyer and then promote your company for you through great customer service.

The issue with the path to purchase is that it can be made of so many individual touchpoints.

All of these moments are opportunities for you to gain (and retain) customers. Understanding the path to purchase is essential to getting the most out of your marketing.

P.S. Do you want to learn how to track touchpoints in full customer journeys with one easy guide? Download our eBook to learn how each touchpoint plays its role in driving customers.


Why do you need to track the path to purchase?

Tracking the path to purchase – both holistically and on an individual basis – will help you understand how your marketing drives new leads and sales.

With proper tracking in place, you can understand the role your channels and campaigns play when it comes to starting, driving or ending customer journeys.

We know that users don’t land on your website and convert right away. So, by tracking your paths to purchase, you can see what exactly is working to impact your bottom line.


Why is the path to purchase tricky to track?

There are a few key reasons why the path to purchase is tricky to track. We’ve broken it down into 3 key reasons.


The customer journey is getting longer and longer

The path to purchase isn’t a simple, short customer journey. There are three stages just to convert a user into a customer. And each of those stages could have tens or maybe even hundreds of touchpoints.

With all this data in play, it makes it difficult for marketers to properly assess what’s working and what isn’t.


Difficulties tracking lead quality and attributing revenue

As if long customer journeys weren’t difficult enough, marketers have extra challenges who have to drive leads.

If you’re using conversion types like phone calls, live chat or form fills, then you might struggle to track lead quality. In fact, you might even struggle to track lead volume.

Related: Learn how to track calls, track form submissions and track live chat with our simple guides.

While you might be able to count the number of leads you’re generating, how do you accurately attribute them to their referring marketing source? And, even worse, if a lead converts into a sale, how do you attribute that closed revenue back to your marketing?

When there are so many channels in play during your paths to purchase, it can be hard to sift through the data to make concrete connections between sales and marketing.


Ad platforms use last-click attribution

Many ad platforms opt for last-click attribution models meaning those channels used later in the customer journey or path to purchase get all of the credit.

When we consider how many touchpoints are required to drive users down the path to purchase, this isn’t a fair attribution model to use.

While last-click can be a great model type to use to get an idea of how channels are working to close paths to purchase, it ignores the impact of everything else you’re doing.


What does this mean for marketers?

Digital marketing has taught us, the consumer, to expect businesses to deliver what we want, the moment we want it. It is in these micro-moments that marketers have the opportunity to be contextual, valuable and influential.

Getting data on your customers’ path to purchases isn’t something you can do on your own. But it means your business can generate more revenue through new and repeat customers.

We already know that a user can have hundreds of touchpoints with your brand before converting. So how do we go about tracking each and every touchpoint for every single prospect?


Work smarter, not harder

Imagine if we told you that you could track each and every lead. And not only that, but you could continue to track them, and when they convert, you could see their revenue attributed against the marketing channel or campaign that influenced it?

That’s exactly what Ruler can do.

Once your tracking links are set up, Ruler can monitor each and every visitor to your website and collect data on their session data and referrals.

When that user becomes a lead, Ruler will pass all of the data held on that user over to your CRM, or whatever you’re using to monitor leads and customers.

Ruler will continue to work in the background, monitoring that user and their activity.

When that user then closes into a sale, Ruler will scrape the revenue data assigned to it and fire it back into your marketing dashboards.

This means you can start to identify your paths to purchase and use that data to concentrate efforts on the marketing channels that are driving the most revenue.

So, forget working harder. Stop wasting time (and budget) on channels that aren’t impacting your bottom line. Instead, pool your resources into the channels and campaigns you can see are working. By understanding the path to purchase and how it impacts the buying decisions of your website visitors, you can get smart with your marketing.

Keep learning by downloading our guide to closed-loop marketing attribution where you can learn how to link your offline sales back to your online marketing. Or, see Ruler in action by booking a demo.

Book a demo Ruler Analytics