Choice: It’s at the heart of the customer experience today. Consumers can move across channels and bounce from one brand to another while on the path to a purchase, meaning the customer journey is more complex than ever. That doesn’t mean it’s time to give up on tracking or managing customers’ progress, however.
“If you can view the customer journey, the advantages will multiply.”
Companies that have a comprehensive view of the many and varied touchpoints in the consumer journey will gain targeted marketing opportunities that competitors miss out on. If you can do this, the advantages will quickly multiply. Generalized marketing and communication pale in comparison to programs that target customers with context-sensitive, relevant prompts.
Although customer journey mapping has grown in complexity in recent years, it is an indispensable marketing tactic. Companies that connect their data across channels gain a distinct edge over rivals that can’t or don’t form these connections. The following are just a few of the new abilities that open up when marketers synchronize the customer journey with their efforts:
- Maintain a complete view of the customer. If you can follow individual customers from initial interest to purchase, you can to create a profile that will inform all further communication, and the personalize those communications to suit that single person’s unique progress through the steps of the journey. The advantages below all stem from having access to this insight. The Boston Globe realized a large portion of readers, both subscribers and non, clicked through emails to the site, but because they didn’t log in, the content wasn’t tailored specifically to their interests. Now, BlueConic embeds a unique identifier into their emails to track URLs and thus recognize readers as soon as they went from their email to web. As a result, the company can serve up more thoughtful content recommendations and subscription offers – as well as increase the number of known visitors to Globe properties.
- Anticipate customer behaviors. Working with the profile described above, you can predict what a visitor will want or need from your brand. This means automatically using intent data, both current and accumulated, to coax a curious consumer further down the path to a purchase. Follow Raen Optics on this, which creates demand for a particular product with shipping incentives on specialized exit intent messages. Double digit increases in conversions result.
- Guide customers as they progress. If you’ve mapped the whole customer journey, you know where potential buyers need to go next to be one step closer to a purchase. You can send out custom materials periodically, leading prospects along until it’s time to buy. These can encompass multiple channels – web reminder boxes on return visits, email newsletters with tailored content and more. An individual-level view of the conversion funnel can help:
- Personalize communication. If you have a map of the customer journey and an actionable record of customer’s data, it’s possible to address the exact needs those consumers have at that particular time. By recognizing individuals, even those who haven’t made themselves identified, you can offer relevant messaging, helping engagement immensely. The Seattle Times is currently testing more dynamic personalization efforts, including BlueConic, because readers are more likely to click on articles consistent with their interests and browsing behavior rather than an aggregate.
- Measure results and make smarter decisions. With a comprehensive understanding of the customer journey, you have a framework to track and potentially influence customer engagement and progress. Conversely, if you’re not sure about what the path to purchase looks like, it’s far harder to determine whether consumers are on the right path. For example, Chilewich’s attributes considerable additional revenue to their implementation of multi-channel cart abandonment recovery use-cases whereby they can ensure their shoppers complete their purchases.
“The customer data platform has emerged as a valuable tech tool.”
Making it happen. That takes care of why understanding the customer’s journey is paramount today, but how can companies make sure they have all the necessary information synched up? Standard customer relationship management systems aren’t up to the task today, as they are only one element of a good data collection and use infrastructure. Due to the many different touchpoints involved in customer engagement and the fact that consumers will likely migrate between them many times as they contemplate a purchase, the customer data platform has emerged as a valuable tech tool.
If your marketing campaigns aren’t built with the aid of a CDP, your valuable information will keep living in diaspora from each other, undermining your ability to map the customer journey and build profiles that follow buyers across different channels. With individuals moving constantly between online channels, as well as engaging with companies offline, there are plenty of data sources to synchronize. If you get only part of the picture, the many advantages above may never come to fruition. This is the simple but compelling case for better data management as a customer experience tool.