Customer journey optimization is not just about stepping in at the right time to assuage negative customer experiences, or delivering contextually relevant content. It’s about maintaining a ‘global conversation’ across the journey ecosystem, ensuring that customers do not ‘fall through the gaps’ as they continue their voyage.
Not everyone starts at awareness and ends at advocacy. In fact, any one of these journey stages could be a customer’s point of entry, and they can jump around to different stages at whim: from awareness to purchase, from consideration back to awareness. Some can consider themselves a brand advocate even before they make a purchase.
The trick is ensuring that their experience and engagement is maintained, with as few ‘seams’ between channels and touchpoints as possible. After all, customers do not think of channels in the same way marketers do. As far as they are concerned, their conversation is with a singular brand.
Marketers have long used sociodemographic factors (such as age, gender, location and income) to segment their customers and create personas to shape their marketing strategies. The explosion of big data has provided them with access to huge volumes of behavioral data, too.
This behavioral data, such a purchase history, website viewing history, cart abandonment habits, and so on, has enabled the creation of far more specific microsegments for precision targeted messaging. Customers might be placed in a microsegment depending on what device they uses, what time they visit your site or open their emails, or what channel they prefer. These microsegments allow you to understand not just a customer from their persona, but how you can treat each one differently based on the way they act.
Developing a marketing strategy that can engage and converse with customers will need many components to make customer journey optimization possible. However, four of the most important requirement are:
Unified customer data: Without a Single Customer View (SCV) pulling together all your data sources into a single ‘golden record’, you’ll find it challenging to monitor your customers across multiple channels. Creating an SCV is a process that a Customer Data Platform (CDP) can handle, as well as providing a hub from which to execute your marketing strategies.
A Customer Data Platform maintaining a unified customer database provides the foundation to resolve data fragmentation, and a base for accurate analysis, targeting and to measure marketing performance.
Customer insight: It quite clear that you’ll need the ability to analyze your customer data. Without being able to extract the insights you need to build accurate and relevant customer segments, microsegments and personas, you will not know enough about them to engage in personalization strategies.
An omnichannel approach: Customers don’t think about channels –they want a seamless, integrated experience where their journey preserves context and their progress is maintained across channels and devices. This is critical for ‘global conversations’.
Marketing automation tools: A marketing platform is needed to build, monitor and establish marketing interventions, create campaigns and enable cross-journey communication.
The way that customers now engage with brands is not just agile –it’s almost completely on their own terms. If you cannot meet their needs, when and where they have them –and optimize these engagements at the same time –then you’re going to find it hard identify, and justify, where and how you spend your marketing dollars.
Using cross journey communication is an incredibly powerful way to measure, learn and optimize customer engagements. By holding conversations with customers across all channels, at any of the countless journey stages, using the empirical knowledge you have learned from their natural behavior (rather than just what you tell them), is key to strengthening a more relevant and rewarding relationship with them.