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Posted by Lee Hughes on 30 June 2016

Learn how to connect the dots of how your prospects and customers behave

As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace, your business is likely to be faced with a seemingly unlimited amount of digital tools and platforms at your disposal. Whilst choice is great, it can also be confusing to know which are the best channels to form your digital marketing strategy, and how they should inter-connect. 

So how can you ensure your digital strategy is as effective as possible?  How do you decide which channels will most successfully target your ideal audience?  And understand exactly how your target audience behaves, and what physical and virtual touch points they have with your brand?

How do you gain insight into the emotions of your customers and prospects - their motivations, triggers and questions at each touch point?

Well, to answer these questions and to begin to connect the dots of how your target audience behaves (right through from initial research to engagement, conversion, purchase and post sale advocacy of your business), we recommend the creation of a digital ecosystem map.

So What Exactly is a Digital Ecosystem Map?

A great introduction to digital ecosystems is given by UX Booth who explain that the name takes its inspiration from biology where it is "the term given to a set of products, services, and people that function together in a symbiotic way'. But from a technological point of view it's better described "as a network of people interacting with products or services."

UX Booth outline the benefit of ecosystem thinking as being able to "evaluate user behaviour at the intersection of various inflection points".  This involves asking a variety of questions such as;

  • Who are your users?
  • What event has triggered their need for your product or service?
  • What are their goals / objectives?
  • What are their frustrations / challenges?
  • What / who are the information sources which they use?
  • What technology do they use (digital devices / digital channels)?
  • What touch points do they have with your business?
  • What influences their decision making?

Research conducted with your target audience will answer these questions and the results can be visualised in a digital ecosystem map, providing a great tool to highlight how your intended target market behaves and how the different elements connect. 

At Status we're big fans of ecosystem map development and use regularly in client projects, so in this blog post I'm going to share some of the reasons why we feel using this tool is a key step to achieving digital marketing success.

1. Provides a Better Understanding of Your Audience

Visualising your digital ecosystem provides insight and understanding into a user’s interaction with your brand, and how their offline and online behaviours connect.

This visualisation is delivered by creating a digital ecosystem map. Which begins with detailed research on the user, and results in a graphic representation of their interaction with your various brand touch points, including your digital platforms.

The example shown below is of an ecosystem map which our team developed for a Student Lettings Agency client;


The map allows you to identify every stage of the decision making process, including triggers - and simply visualises where digital interactions happen and influence behaviours, and highlights potential ‘pain points’ where their experience with your brand may become disjointed or problematic.

It also allows you to identify at which points the customer / prospect might be considering reviewing services from your competitors, and therefore provides great insight to help improve customer retention by providing visibility of these decision points. 

2. Alerts You to Any Pain Points 

Conducting research directly with your users provides insight into the usefulness of your products and services. Like it or not, this intelligence can really open your eyes to the facts - good and bad!

Your flagship product may not be connecting with your users the way you think it is. But you would rather know about it than not, and have the opportunity to take action, right?

Digital ecosystem mapping can unearth hidden pain points that are potentially turning customers away from your product or services, that you may have no awareness of.

Identifying these issues and gaining visibility of them before they force a customer to move to a competitor will provide your business with really powerful insight, before it's too late. 

3. Identifies Opportunities

One of the exciting parts of ecosystem mapping is that you never know what you are going to find.

Analysis of your ecosystem map can present obvious solutions to user problems, but sometimes it can also highlight unexpected opportunities and new ways of thinking - whether that's an improvement to the product / service you offer or a smarter way of attracting new prospects.

Validation of the ideas which become evident are important though, and this should be done through user research.  Conducting comprehensive user research will allow you to sense check changes, and be safe in the knowledge that any bold resolutions will correctly address your user’s problems.

4. Encourages Connectivity 

An ecosystem map will provide you with a birds-eye view of all online and offline touch points that your target audience interacts with.  

In this age of the 'connected experience', the value to your business of easily being able to identify those touch points is considerable. As too is the value of being able to identify where interactions are disjointed, or not working to their full potential.

This insight will equip your business with useful knowledge on how to best connect these different interactions, ensuring that you offer your customers and prospects the best possible joined up experience.

5.It Keeps on Giving 

Having a visualisation of exactly how your target audience behaves, and how their activities interconnect, shouldn't simply be used during a project of developing a new website, or launching a new app, and then put to the side. 

The valuable intelligence which your business has gained should be utilised time and time again, at every stage of your digital marketing strategy.

So for instance, if you launch a new website and your next step is developing an inbound content strategy, then you should return to the ecosystem to review what was learnt, which digital channels are best to reach your audience, and at which stage in their buyer journey do they use them?

All of this insight should feed into your inbound strategy (or any digital activity that you are planning), whether that's a PPC campaign, an email campaign, social media strategy etc.  

Most importantly, every decision you make should be informed and influenced by your digital ecosystem map, helping your business to keep your target audience front of mind at all times.


Mapping out your digital ecosystem has never been so important to achieving a successful digital strategy. It points out flaws within a user journey, and opens up possibilities to resolve them in ways you may not have considered before.

In a time when digital products and platforms continue to multiply, your prospects and customers have the world at their fingertips - bringing challenges for any business trying to gain a complete view of exactly how their target audience behaves.

Developing a digital ecosystem map will help your business understand exactly how your customers and prospects are making decisions, and how they interact with different touch points. This insight will provide real value to your business when developing your digital marketing strategy, and provide the required insight to help you achieve digital marketing success. 

Hopefully this post will have provided a helpful introduction to the topic of digital ecosystem development - if you have any thoughts on the subject then we would love to hear them, please add in the comments below.

And if you're interested in having a chat further about how your business can improve its digital strategy, please do get in touch.


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