“What is customer journey orchestration?”
It’s a frequently asked question among marketers today. Chances are, you or someone on your team (likely even your CMO) has asked it at some point in the past few years.
The problem is the term “customer journey orchestration” is very misleading.
Why? Because the customer owns her entire buying journey — from start to finish.
That means you, a day-to-day marketer, can’t orchestrate (read: control) her journey at all.
The customer, and only the customer, decides which companies to research, business websites to browse, brand apps to download, and, ultimately, products or services to buy.
Marketers such as yourself can, however, orchestrate real-time, one-to-one marketing activities to target customers and manage an ongoing lifecycle marketing approach.
We’ve already explained the basics of customer lifecycle marketing.
Now, it’s worth detailing why the notion of “creating” a customer journey orchestration strategy is an outmoded way of thinking for organizations today.
And, more specifically, how a lifecycle-centric program can enhance both your most important marketing metrics and customers’ experiences in the long term.
The “customer journey orchestration” myth and how it affects your marketing
Improve the front-end customer experience for prospects and buyers across all channels, mediums, and devices by delivering relevant and timely marketing messaging.
That’s every marketer’s goal. And it’s an attainable one. (With the right focus.)
Over the past decade, marketing professionals’ attention has been primarily dedicated to defining their niche audiences and personas’ typical customer journey.
The general thought process behind charting broad customer (or buyer) journeys is they help marketers better comprehend customers’ purchasing decisions and how customers interact with their brands at various points in the sales process. (And even post-purchase.)
But this high-level vantage point only offers generalized and limited insights.
BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach noted how focusing too much on defining the stages of the customer journey distracts marketing from better engagement opportunities:
“[T]oo much time gets wasted on abstractions about journeys rather than focusing on how to realign marketing activities and planning to understand and react to what is happening in a journey.”
Put another way? Mapping out the customer journey has its pluses. Namely, you can confirm assumptions about buyers’ behavior and better grasp their pain points and preferences.
But improving the experience for individuals across channels requires a more sophisticated, involved, and detail-oriented approach based on real-time customer data and insights.
Specifically, the customer lifecycle management approach.
Use customer lifecycle management to respond to customer journeys and improve outcomes
With the continual increase in enterprise marketers using customer journeys to understand buyer behavior, platforms were inevitably built to help them analyze disparate data across channels and platforms to draw conclusions about the average customer’s journey.
The problem is, most of these platforms were built for data scientists — not marketers.
Why? Because marketing has historically lacked the data science skills necessary to pull data sets from customer journey management software, run algorithms, then import that data back into the solution to construct useful journey visualizations based on the inputs.
Marketers face two problems with customer journey orchestration tools:
- 1) Since these tools weren’t built for everyday marketing professionals, these solutions require additional skill sets or resources to use them properly.
- 2) Because they’re disconnected from activation systems (e.g., ESP, web personalization tools), marketers can’t actually respond to customers’ journeys in real time.
In place of this solution, enterprise marketing teams can use martech systems that instead enable lifecycle orchestration. That is, the ability to respond with cross-channel touchpoints and implement individualized messaging at each relevant lifecycle stage.
As analytics expert Weiwei Hu noted for Toward Data Science, the right customer lifecycle management framework enables the most effective orchestration efforts:
“[Marketers] need to understand the behavior of customers vary by different persona segments at each key stage in their lifecycle so that they can identify opportunities for engaging with these customers.”
And marketers can get all these critical martech components — data unification, analysis, and activation capabilities — in a single system today: the customer data platform (CDP).
Abandoning customer journey marketing — and embracing lifecycle orchestration
Whether your enterprise organization is B2B or B2C, customer lifecycle orchestration is your path to more hyper-personalized, high-converting marketing that uplifts your ROI:
- “B2B marketers must become the architect of engagement across the entire customer lifecycle,” Forrester VP, Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo noted to Digital Commerce 260.
- Meanwhile, Deloitte’s Anthony R. Stephan stated there’s been a “shift in the consumer landscape in which brand loyalty is created from authentic, personal interactions.”
To align your marketing with consumers’ (or business decision-makers’) expectations and, in turn, enhance your customer engagement model, you need attentive, individual-focused, and cohesive marketing programs that meet your customer when and where they prefer. You need to recognize and interact with each individual customer across channels.
Enter customer lifecycle orchestration: the next frontier of lifecycle marketing.
With lifecycle orchestration, all interactions, regardless of channel, are an explicit response to where each individual customer or prospect is on their unique journey.
The orchestration approach puts the planning and execution of workflow-based, static, outbound campaigns to work in service of journey-based marketing.
Your integrated marketing communications to target customers can account for their distinct behaviors. For instance, retargeted social media ads can be based on your prospects’ and buyers’ product interests and their recent online and offline activity.
By taking a wholly customer-centric approach, marketers can better leverage audience analysis to activate data through multi-dimensional segmentation.
Using a customer data platform that offers lifecycle orchestration capabilities, like BlueConic, affords marketers the opportunity to fully leverage their first-party data.
With Lifecycles, marketing organizations with BlueConic’s CDP can leverage the unified profiles for each contact in their martech ecosystem as the basis of their programs to promote or suppress specific messaging based on customer behavior or as time goes by:
These marketers can define any number of lifecycles and related stages with the goal of moving customers from one mutually exclusive stage to the next as they convert or time passes (e.g., newsletter CTA clicks, reaching midway point of 30-day onboarding period).
These individuals advance from one lifecycle stage (which differ from static customer journey stages) to the next as they engage with touchpoints (i.e., cross-channel interactions) defined by the marketer for the stage and as they complete other interactions with your brand that you may not have defined within a given lifecycle. (Remember, it’s their journey.)
Meeting your customers where they are in their unique journeys can greatly improve your marketing metrics and overall business goals. Whether that’s generating more revenue, increasing customer lifetime value scores, or driving better retention rates.
Ultimately, creating better customer experiences for your audience by understanding and reacting to individuals in your marketing funnel in real time will help you meet your goals.
The transition from customer journey marketing to a lifecycle orchestration strategy doesn’t happen overnight. But marketing’s evolution is constant. That means you must evolve too.
In the long term, it’s clear marketers’ best opportunity to build lasting relationships with customers is through dedicated messaging to each individual that consider her needs and refining that approach over time to deliver the constantly improved CX they expect.
And customer lifecycle orchestration affords you this opportunity.
Watch our lifecycle marketing webinar to discover how to orchestrate more relevant and timely individualized customer experiences with your first-party data.