Connecting the Dots on the Customer Journey

The path toward a customer purchase – the “customer journey” – is typically comprised of multiple touchpoints. Marketing experts across multiple verticals point to achieving success by understanding how and why customers interact with our brands.

The path toward a customer purchase – the “customer journey” – is typically comprised of multiple touchpoints. Marketing experts across multiple verticals point to achieving success by understanding how and why customers interact with our brands.

These motivations can be revealed by mapping the path from when a lead first interacted with a brand, when a purchase was made, and throughout the customer relationship.

How do we connect the "dots" on the customer journey? First, the journey must be defined.

Define the Journey

A customer journey can look different for every customer. One prospect’s journey might start during a desktop search for a product, then while shopping in a retail store she may initiate a smartphone search for competing products. During that search, she may receive a text message alert about a personalized sale in a nearby branded location. Finally, during the drive to the nearby store she may see a sign showcasing that product at a bus stop.

A different prospect may start his journey by clicking a PPC ad on a mobile search results page. That ad leads to a landing page with a promotional offer. Although the prospect may not engage with the brand through that page, later in the day he may receive an email about how the product provides a solution specific to his needs, which prompts him to contact a local store for availability. Once availability is confirmed, he stops by the store to purchase that product.

Each of these steps should be defined as dots within marketing "tracks" on the customer journey. The tracks extend through the various touch points that your brand deploys, both inbound and outbound. One point might be an email campaign, another one a series of blog posts on a third-party website, while a third might be a billboard seen during the work commute. All these points can be connected to form a customer persona, or profile.

Customer Journey Serves a Master Profile

Online and offline activities shape the way customers make purchase decisions. Marketers can identify key points that have led to a purchase using data collected during marketing activities. Buyers leave footprints that can be categorized and analyzed to assess contributing factors that motivate a buy.

The footprints along the way help in the development of a master profile. The master profile of a customer is comprised of personal data, such as name and email address, along with behavioral characteristics, such as clicking a PPC ad or reading a specific article or attending a webinar. These data and characteristics can be scored using a lead scoring model. For some marketers, certain dots carry more weight than others. For example, first touch point and last touch point may be attributed (scored) heavily versus touch points in between. In other cases, weight may be evenly distributed among all marketing exposures. The scoring then becomes part of the master profile, which can be used to shape future engagements with a customer.

Nurture Through Each Step

Future engagements are part of a nurturing process that can develop a relationship and potentially lead to purchases. From first touch to purchase to follow-up, you’ve got multiple opportunities to engage your customers through a nurturing process which drives the customer journey. The nurturing process may include inbound and outbound practices that deliver relevant, meaningful content to your leads, prospects and customers.

Digital marketers have the capabilities to personalize and customize messages based on information collected during the journey. A customer journey can take a different path across individuals, audience segments, even within the same person. Lead nurturing campaigns are a common practice among brands that use marketing automation systems. Typically conducted via email and social campaigns, nurturing can be extended to both digital and analog assets to create a cohesive campaign which hits prospects during different times of the day or week and at various locations. Doing so requires you to consider the digital devices people use.

Dots Are Device-Dependent

Personal devices like smart phones and desktops are used for different purposes, each presenting a unique opportunity to connect. For instance, a smartphone may be used to search for a better price on a product while a prospect is in a store. A tablet may be used in the evening while researching potential purposes. A desktop may be used while conducting work (when an ad for your brand may appear on a web page). Each venue offers a different way to “touch” a customer during the journey toward your brand. But you’ve got to reach them on their terms. Consider the purposes, devices and timing of each interaction when you’re connecting the dots.

Developing and Deploying the Message and Design

With multiple touchpoints and targeted communications at each step, it’s extremely valuable to have a wealth of assets at your disposal. The number of headlines, photos, images, animations, etc. needed can easily be 5 times, 10 times or even more as many that were needed when a single broadcasted message was the norm.

Using a project management solution with automated workflow capabilities and integrated digital asset management, like Workgroups DaVinci, allows you to quickly design, refine, approve and deploy assets. Furthermore, the solution features a new integration with the Adobe Marketing Cloud that helps you deploy approved assets to web, mobile web, mobile apps, email, social media and other channels.

The journey can now be mapped. Marketers can use data collected to create a customer persona to inspire customized content to connect customers with your brand (on their time through their devices) to motivate purchases and a maintain a sustainable relationship. With the right tools, your organization can connect the dots on the customer journey.