The customer journey is made up of the stages of interactions between your brand and the customer. Increasingly, the customer journey has become omnichannel, with customers moving between devices as they research products and services.
Developing a customer journey strategy begins with mapping the steps the consumer takes on the route to a purchase. This mapping process can be complex as customers engage with touchpoints across multiple channels. Increasing use of mobile and social has also multiplied the number and frequency of contacts during a typical journey.
Applying analytics to the customer journey map can help your business better understand customer interactions and bridge the gap between devices and channels for a more unified and satisfying customer experience. According to Salesforce’s 2016 State of Marketing Report, high-performing marketing teams were 8.8 times more likely to use a customer journey strategy than underperformers with 73% of the teams reporting that it improved customer engagement.
Learning from the Customer Journey
Traditionally, the customer journey is mapped out in stages leading up to a purchase. Each stage requires a different approach to engagement with the customer. A customer may be in the store looking at dresses when she receives a notification that the dresses are on sale, which drives her to the decision to buy. In telecom, a customer needing high speed internet may compare the prices and benefits of several solutions before choosing a provider.
Once you know which channels your customer is using to engage with your brand at certain stages in their journey, you can work to create a seamless experience for them that provides the same offers featured in a different style or format depending on the channel.
For instance, your website could promote a 50% sale on men’s clothes by featuring a range of products, including polos, jeans, and shorts. The same 50% sales offer on mobile could focus on shorts. On the other hand, a text might briefly say “Get 50% savings on men’s sportswear today.” The offer needs to be present at every customer touchpoint when appropriate, but the presentation should be different for each channel.
But the offer is not all you should consider. After the purchase is made, the customer’s experience should continue.
After the Purchase
Even after the customer has decided to purchase your product, the journey should continue through post-purchase engagements that can build customer loyalty, like connected offers and promotions. Harvard Business Review urges companies to focus on customer retention strategies, noting that it is 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. In spite of this, only 16% of organizations concentrate their efforts on building customer loyalty.
Analysis of the data gathered during earlier points in the journey can help shape your post-purchase relationship with the customer. If the customer ends up purchasing a swimming pool, you can send them follow up offers for fun accessories or maintenance supplies.
Getting the Bigger Picture of Customer Interaction
Unless you are seeing individual customer interactions in the context of an entire journey, you may be missing out on the overall significance of these interactions. Without a sense of the big picture, switching channels or devices during the journey may seem like abandonment.
Customers rarely make a purchase after one interaction. According to Google, shoppers search an average of 6 times before making a purchase. Each one of these searches may represent a different stage in the customer journey as the consumer moves towards a purchase.
For instance, an expectant mother may be looking for a stroller. Her first search may be more general until she remembers that she frequently rides public transportation. Then she starts to investigate light and easily foldable strollers that are also durable. She may go through multiple searches as she compares options before selecting one to purchase.
Mapping the entire journey across channels puts all these interactions in context. In contrast, a fragmented and siloed treatment of data misses the significance of isolated points of contact. When individual interactions are constructed into a narrative, it is easier to grasp the motivations behind these interactions.
The information that you gather on this journey should also provide guidance for additional offers. Not only would an expectant mother be shopping for a stroller, but she would need a crib, a highchair, and a baby monitor. By understanding who your customers are and what they are looking for you can optimize offers and anticipate their needs.
Customer Journey Analytics
Mapping the customer journey is the first step to contextualizing and understanding customer interactions. The next vital step is to analyze the data, the results of which will inform business decisions and better personalize customer experiences.
Unfortunately, the National Retail Federation reports that less than half of retailers are using customer analytics for decision making. Analytics can reveal the sentiments of frustration or satisfaction behind interactions so that your business can make more informed decisions about engaging your customers in the future. Customer journey analytics should also inform the timing frequency and content of your marketing. Analytics should be embedded throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
Taking Control of the Customer Journey
Customer-centric marketing does not exist without a customer journey strategy. Consumers want the information, products, and services when and where is most convenient. This customer centricity doesn’t mean your business is powerless to shape the customer journey.
By mapping and analyzing existing customer behavior, you can design paths for your customers that encourage satisfaction and loyalty. By turning the customer journey into a “loyalty loop,” Sungevity, a residential solar panel provider, doubled its sales in 1 year to $65 million.
Unified Customer Experience
The overall goal of mapping the omnichannel customer journey is to create a seamless experience for your customers, no matter what combination of devices they are using. Unifying the customer experience means creating a consistent identity for your brand across channels. It also means enabling the consumer to pick up their conversation with your brand right where they left off so they feel validated as they move towards a purchase.
Hear what your customer data is trying to tell you. Get marketing analytics advice from the experts at Pluris.