man on journey
Journey analytics combines quantitative and qualitative data to gain deeper customer insights. PHOTO: Devin Stein

Customer journey analytics can help marketers identify what customers are doing, thinking and feeling, as well as the touchpoints that they use and the people they interact with along the way. 

But theory is one thing and practical application is quite another, Forrester Research analysts explain in a new report.

Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research analysts Tina Moffett and Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha call journey analytics — which combines quantitative and qualitative data to analyze customer behaviors and motivations across touchpoints and over time to optimize customer interactions and predict future behavior — "the next frontier in customer-obsessed insights."

But they also warn that teams deploying journey analytics face many roadblocks. They have too many approaches across multiple teams, fail to connect customer identity across channels and lack talent with mixed-discipline skill sets.

Understanding Customer Journey Analytics

Customer journey analytics is a crowded field, with Forrester identifying 42 vendors with backgrounds in everything from marketing and customer service to website technology and marketing agency. 

The analysts broke down the players by four major classes of capability – data fusion, journey design and planning, journey testing and optimization, and journey automation.

  1. Data fusion, which involves integrating structured and unstructured data from a variety of channels, provides a more complete view of journeys helps pinpoint customers’ specific behaviors such as channel switching and track key metrics such as conversion
  2. Journey design and planning breaks down internal silos by building a central repository of data-rich journey maps
  3. Journey testing and optimization offers the ability to test journey hypotheses through A/B and multivariate testing
  4. Journey automation helps operationalize journeys at scale

Within these classes Forrester then defines 12 specific features that solutions should provide. Only seven vendors provide all 12 features:

  1. Adobe
  2. IBM
  3. Kitewheel
  4. Leapfrog Online
  5. NICE
  6. Qualtrics
  7. SapientNitro

The remaining 35 vendors — Analytic Partners, Andrew Reise, Applied Predictive Technologies , CafeX Communications, Celebrus Technologies, Clarabridge, ClickFox, Clicktale, Cognizant, Emolytics, Engage.cx, ForeSee, GMC Software, InMoment, IRI , Jumpshot, Kynsale, Localytics, Manthan, MarketForce, MatsSoft, Merkle, Neustar, Optimizely, PitneyBowes, Pointillist, ResponseTap, SessionCam, Smith, SuiteCX, TandemSeven, Teradata, Thunderhead, Touchpoint Dashboard and Verint — provide various combinations of capabilities.

Kynsale, Touchpoint Dashboard and SuiteCX use sentiment analysis and voice of customer analysis to improve connections between touch points. Others — like ClickFox — help customers use analytics data to build better predictive models to deploy better web offers.

(Editor's Note: Scot Wheeler, VP of Marketing Insights at Leapfrog Online, will be speaking for the second consecutive year at CMSWire's DX Summit next month in Chicago. The conference runs Nov. 14 to 16 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel. Wheeler will discuss methods for uncovering consumer interest and shaping consumers’ intent to convert on Wednesday, Nov. 16.)

No One-Size Fits All

The Forrester analysts suggest customer experience (CX) and customer insights (CI) professionals first consider what they want from a journey analytics tool, and then chose a vendor accordingly with specific goals.

Many companies that are using journey analytics to drive conversion and loyalty are relying on a combination of vendors. Clorox, for instance, uses
IBM for customer data fusion and journey design and planning and Optimizely for journey testing, optimization, and automation, the report notes.

"To select the right partner (or partners), CI and CX pros should consider their use cases, vendors’ capabilities, and reasons for needing a journey analytics vendor," the analysts conclude.

Gartner's Take on Journey Analytics

Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner released a vendor guide (fee required) for customer journey analytics earlier this year.

"It’s time to assemble an analytical system that recognizes the reality of digital life," Gartner analyst Martin Kihn blogged. "One that combines the best of customer identity resolution, channel and media measurement, static and time-series methods, and text analytics."

Too many companies sit in analytics silos, according to Kihn. Web and mobile analytics is performed by a digital marketing department or agency, social analytics by an intern, media analytics by a high-end platform or consultancy, voice of the customer by the support team, and customer journey analytics by no one.

"Most likely," he said, "these people don’t even recognize one another at the same holiday party."

Kihn sees customer journey analytics as tools and methods born out of customer relationship management. He sees Thunderhead and ClickFox as leaders because they "build a customer profile based on known attributes — value, loyalty, product preferences, locations — and layer on how they behave over time in digital channels or stores."

Customer journey analytics is a combined marketing and media analytics solution that "incorporates the element of time, the fourth dimension, and it can be adapted to respond rapidly based on triggers. The freshest information is the best, no matter what anyone tells you."