It’s no secret that one of today’s top marketing mandates is to deliver optimized digital experiences across multiple digital channels. Analyst firm Forrester recently came out with their State of Digital Experience Customer Technology report and found that more than half of the businesses they interviewed claimed that technology that supported this strategy was their highest priority.
But what are the first steps in terms of actually executing that priority? We frequently work with our customers to create these optimized digital content strategies, and in our experience the foundational step is to establish goals for each customer journey. Whether it’s conversion, brand loyalty, retention, stickiness on the page, shopping cart abandonment or even social, each goal should be expressed. And one of the best ways to express those goals is by establishing a customer journey map to measure your CXM progress.
Customer Journey Maps – The Creation
The CXM journey map is a very straightforward idea. It is, basically, a process that outlines all the steps that the audience you are targeting would go through while they engage with your content. As Forrester also said in a workshop they gave last month “many customer experience initiatives fail because companies don’t have a complete picture of what the customer experience actually entails or the dynamics that go into creating it.”
A Journey Map might be used to express everything from how the customer walks through your store physically, to (most common in our business) how they search the web, filter through social networks, arrive at your website, and/or experience your content in some way. The key is identifying all the points in your audience’s journey and then determine where you can optimize the experience they are having.
More complex digital content Journey Maps can take a customer from the first time they become aware of your brand (e.g. a Google Search, or advertisement, or email) all the way through to even after they become customers (e.g. a loyalty newsletter, or interaction on a social channel like Facebook).
However, one optimized way to express journey maps are as an expression of individual persona work you may complete. For example, if you are a B2B marketing organization, you may create a very specific customer journey map for the CEO of your target company vs. the CFO (who might actually be the buyer) and/or the end-user of the particular product you are marketing. The CEO may go through much different levels of engagement (since they are mostly an influencer to the sale). The marketer might take them first from content delivered at an event, to a thought leadership whitepaper, to the ultimate conversion to a webinar that they themselves may not even attend. The Goal (remember this is the important piece) is that the marketer is trying to get the CFO or the end-user to attend the event -- and thus begins THEIR Customer Journey map for that particular tactic.
Customer Journey Maps – The Integration
This is one of the more important points. Customer journey maps should typically all integrate into each other. As we create content that starts to work together, these multiple personas should all relate to each other in some way. Our CFO (in the example above) may have four or five different entry points across different channels to experience content. Some of them will intersect or hand off to other personas or other customer journey maps (e.g. different products, services).
Establishing the goals for each persona -- and thus each Customer Journey Map -- can help to identify the gaps in our current content and marketing strategy. And, it can help us to identify the metrics, monitoring and other types of technology requirements we’re going to need for each content channel.
Journey Maps – Optimizing Each Touch Point
This leads us to the next piece of Customer Journey Maps and that’s identifying each of those touch points that the customer will have with our content, and then optimizing the experience at those points. In order to understand how we will deploy technology (or even what technology we will need) marketers can look at the following:
- Desired Action -- what is it that we want the audience/customer/visitor to do at each of these points? In the example above, we want to measure by the engagement the CEO has with our content at each point. For the CFO we may want to measure by attendance to our Webinar, engagement with our web content, and/or their continual movement along the map.
- Motivations/Optimization -- what can we do at each stage to optimize the desired action? How can we use technology to optimize each stage? Will they be consuming this content on a mobile device? Is this a social channel? Do we need this content in multiple languages? What time of day, or what behavior can we examine in order to optimize the experience at each step? This is where technology can be a tremendous help -- but we first need to make decisions about (and understand intimately) what our audience/consumer may want that experience to be.
- What Is In The Way Or What Changed -- meaning what might prevent the audience/customer/visitor from taking the action that we want them to take? Is there not enough information? Is there too much information? Is it not optimized enough? Here’s where a CXM technology that can monitor in real-time can make a tremendous difference. If the system the marketer deploys can actually watch the traffic, and learn in real-time, and then start to provide “pockets” of like-minded personas (or customer journey maps) that might differ from our original assumptions, the marketer can start to make changes to the experience and the content much more quickly. For example, if we start noticing one particular geographic location behaves much differently than another (US Vs. Europe for example) we might be inspired to create new, different customer journey maps.
In summary -- marketers have to make some assumptions when creating new digital content experiences. But they’re not always right, and they almost always change over time. The technology we deploy should let us know when those assumptions need to be revisited and the content/experiences re-optimized.
Our experience is that these are most successful if they are grounded in both continual customer/audience research, and a technology that can help a marketer get started with what little research they may have. At Hippo, for example, we utilize a bit of a different approach by utilizing a “listening” technology which starts (from day one) to start to automatically and in real-time assemble patterns of usage and optimize the user experience. It provides knowledge about what your visitor now wants to know and creates triggers for action.
Whatever your approach -- whether it’s diving into content delivery and creating customer journey maps after you look at the data and analytics, creating them beforehand based on research and interviews, or even some combination of both (our recommendation) marketers should treat customer journeys as storyboards.
To the extent that you can -- look at the personas as people, complete with pictures, names and the full details of who these audiences are as people. There’s no single, absolutely correct way to do this. And there are certain to be alternative opinions to the approach that I’ve put forward here.
But the most important thing is to actually do the exercise. It’s one of the most important steps you can take to understand how to better engage with the audiences you need to keep engaged.