A research report recently published by Millward Brown Digital revealed how 55% of senior marketers lack confidence in their organisation’s understanding of the customer journey.
With the volume of new digital touchpoints increasing by a fifth each year, marketers across sectors are grappling with how to reach audiences with the right content in the right place at the right time.
The customer journey
The customer journey is the path travelled by a customer from the point of first awareness through the multitude of interactions had with your brand en route to conversion and beyond. It represents a person’s complete personal experience of being your customer.
Take this example. Imagine you’re a cupcake specialist:
Evie first heard about your brand from a friend. While out shopping one day she spots your store and pops in. She’s greeted by a friendly employee, who offers her a sample. After receiving advice on which cupcakes to go for, Evie decides on a box of four. At the checkout, she gives her email address in exchange for the chance to win a free tray of cupcakes at the end of the month. Evie’s purchase is handed to her in a pretty paper bag, along with a rewards card and a flyer for an upcoming cupcake decoration workshop you’re hosting next month.
That afternoon, Evie shares a photo on Instagram of her friends enjoying your beautiful cupcakes, tagging your brand. Her friend spots the flyer and likes the idea of the workshop.
A few weeks later, Evie receives an email, firstly explaining that she, unfortunately, hadn’t won the tray of cakes. It then details and links to a unique cupcake recipe on your brand’s website, as well as including a link to the sign-up page for the cupcake decoration workshop. She forwards the email to her friend, and later signs them both up.
This is just one scenario out of numerous possible journeys, and an example of one that seamlessly weaves together both physical and digital experiences.
The opportunities of a marketing strategy based on a clear understanding of customer journey are manifold:
- Improved brand experience
- Better lead nurturing
- More targeted content marketing
- Better customer service
- Increased retention
- Brand advocacy
And so forth.
Getting to grips with your company’s customer journey requires the collection, application and organisation of data and experience.
Where to find the right insight
To create a detailed customer journey, you will need clear audience personas to work from – an understanding of who your audience is, their motivations, interests and pain points. We’ll look at this in greater detail on another occasion, but a starting point is to speak to your internal teams – from sales to social. What are the common motivations behind a customer’s interaction with them? What questions or problems do they have?
In addition to personas, data is considered fundamental to building an understanding of the customer journey, and can be collected through the use of CRM systems, analytics platforms and social listening tools.
When it comes to applying all of this data and insight to improving your customer relationships, increasing retention and generating new business, your starting point is the customer journey map.
The customer journey map
A customer journey map documents the many touchpoints through which a potential customer interacts with your brand.
One of the most detailed yet accessible examples I’ve come across are the experience maps created by Adaptive Path:
This example dates back to 2011, and therefore takes a more limited number of channels into account, but nevertheless presents a brilliant execution of a customer journey map, complete with the resulting identified opportunities – many of which relate to content. The map presents us with:
- Guiding Principles: These criteria for the journey posed by your target personas, brand proposition and values. The customer journey should be reflective of these principles.
- Stages: The stages of behaviour a typical customer undergoes across the journey.
- Doing: The journey model, reflective of the activities undertaken and their timeline.
- Thinking: The tangible questions and problems the customer is considering at each stage.
- Feeling: The personal feelings commonly experienced at each stage.
- Experience: Perceptions at each stage in terms of particular data points. In the example given above, the team conducted a survey to investigate enjoyability, the relevance of the brand and the helpfulness of the brand at each stage of the journey.
If you’re at a lost as to whether you have the right information about your customers and their journey, take this example as your starting point and fill in the gaps. Good luck!