The last time you shopped for something online, did you head directly to a retailer's website and make the purchase..?
Think about it...
There is a very good chance you took a whole load of other actions (over a period of time) before finally making the leap and reaching for your credit card.
In most cases, neither consumers nor potential clients rarely know exactly what they want; this is certainly something to be excited over as a marketer or business owner.
Customers read blog content, check out YouTube, ‘Like' their friend's Facebook posts and scour Twitter for information. They might see a native ad that piques their interest, although they may not even be aware it's an ad. Similarly, they can be steered by multiple remarketing campaigns, white papers or in-store interaction tech...
So, guess what?
By the time they actually get that credit card out of their wallet, the journey is already over. Their mind is 100% made up.
Steps need to be taken before that happens to ensure:
- The customer chooses you
- They spend the amount of money you want them to spend
- They buy the products or services you would prefer them to purchase
Influencing The Customer Journey
Many of us don't talk about funnels any more. Well, some do - but funnels have problems.
With a funnel, something travels from the top to the bottom, right? Unfortunately, the reality of a customer journey isn't quite so simple.
Let's be clear that such a journey is not a direct route. It's a meandering path that frequently doubles back and takes unexpected turns. This to and fro could span lengthy time periods...
Typical customer journeys:
- Could last a few minutes, a couple of days or several months
- Could be multi-directional and may head out of the funnel, across it, or straight down
- Almost always involve multiple traffic channels, including social media
- Frequently consist of many devices - which means marketers can lose potential customers mid-way along the journey
- Can hit dead ends caused by all kinds of factors: mediocre content, poor website design, distraction or a lack of purchase information
Every journey is unique; every journey has pitfalls. You can't possibly estimate where a potential customer is headed without some kind of guidance and a way to measure success.
So, you're going to need something much more concrete.
3 Reasons Why Data Is Essential
Great marketing isn't based on gut feeling or guesswork. Increasingly, it's all about data. If you want to influence the customer journey, you need to plan, analyse and react...proactively! Here are 3 data-driven steps to making that happen:
1. Influencing The Journey
Consumers have never been savvier. They know they will find more information online than they've ever found in a physical store.
As helpful as this may be for them, it is also a golden opportunity for you to control their journey.
Precision is key. You're going to need to provide the right content to the ideal audience, when it suits them. You're going to need to pitch it at an accurate level and tone, according to the touch points you see using the data available to you.
For example, you should know whether to hit them with a direct ‘buy now' ad or gently nudge them with some words of encouragement towards your new product range via email...or even just set your live chat box to pop-up, directing them to a topical blog post.
2. Measuring The Outputs
Marketers and business owners aren't used to playing data scientists. But times have changed...
Be prepared to crunch the numbers to find out whether your influence on the customer journey is hitting home. (It's now more important than ever to analyse results in real-time, too.)
Measuring influence isn't an easy task, particularly when consumers are moving across devices and channels so frequently. Yet the vast amounts of data gained from this process make it incredibly powerful for sellers.
Fortunately, you won't be expected to pull up endless spreadsheets. There are exciting measurement platforms built specifically for this purpose; they can be constantly adapted to the outputs on which you're focusing.
I'll get to that in a second...
3. Solving Specific Problems
Customers might move up, down and sideways...but they are always on a trajectory.
They're looking for help to solve a problem; their unique problem. They're looking for somebody to provide a solution. The closer they get to the answer, the more detail and trust they need.
Your goal is to provide content that syncs perfectly with expectations.
20 years ago, it would be normal to delve into the demographics watching a certain TV show then design adverts to tap into their presumed interests. But now, you have instant access to qualified data that lets you reach out to people in a hyper-personalised, ultra-tailored way.
Personalization is not about being pushy or intrusive. Don't turn into that creepy, pushy sales guy we all dislike. However, the more you know somebody; the better you can solve their problems.
One tool to customize your customer journey is currently available for free from IBM: See The Journey Designer in action here.
Customer Journey Take-Aways
In the digital landscape, marketing is changing. The pace of change is rapid and it affects businesses of all sizes. Customers are progressively sophisticated in the methods they use to research purchases.
The most successful businesses are meeting customers on their journey and adapting this path in order to influence what (and how) they buy.
To achieve similar heights, you must accurately anticipate and guide such journeys by making better use of the data goldmine available at your fingertips.
- You need to collaborate.
- You need to personalize.
- You need to measure and react in real time.
For business of all sizes, there's really no way to plan multi-channel campaigns without a credible, proven and intuitive journey planning tool. It's the future, yet many organisations are getting left behind by not keeping up with change.