Marketers know personalizing their messages nets a strong response rate. Personalized email outreach has been credited with improved click-through rates, increased customer engagement and a six-fold increase in transaction rates.
Yet technology has lagged behind the promise of personalization, leading marketers to default to broad-based campaign tactics.
The tides are turning.
With the ability to monitor customer behavior in real-time and develop a holistic view of individual customers, marketers have another option to make one-to-one connections with customers.
Mapping the customer journey and intervening at the customer’s various pain points from the moment they enter a marketer’s sphere of control to their (hopeful) conversion presents a far more potent marketing technique.
Understandably, this requires a different, more experimental approach than a standard campaign.
Breaking Out of the Campaign Mindset
While marketers engineered campaigns to persuade consumers via incessant messaging, the customer directs the customer journey.
Campaigns tend to be linear, with a set start and end date. Customer journeys are happening all the time, beginning or ending at different points as they pass through the phases of discovery, research, conversion and post-sale.
Traditionally, a campaign focused on a single or multiple channels. A customer journey, on the other hand, is omnichannel.
For instance, a journey could start when a customer replies to one of your emails via social media or calls you after receiving a direct mail piece. The customer then selects the channel that they wish to use to communicate.
Consumers don’t think about channels the way marketers do — they assume that all of them are seamlessly linked — and this requires a shift in mindset on the part of marketers. Marketers' goal should be to continue or influence the conversation.
Tracking such complex activity requires a customer journey map, a visual framework that tells the “story” of a customer experience from the initial point of interaction and subsequent interactions until the customer leaves the journey.
Does that mean the consumer has made a purchase? Perhaps, but to map the journey accurately, marketers need to consider third party influencers like friends and colleagues, ancillary services and social media, among other factors that might affect their decision and shape their story.
Don't Be Afraid to Experiment
It’s not enough to just build a customer journey map. Marketers also need to test the customer journey by looking at various moments in the journey and examining ways they could improve them — smoothing out any kinks that may hinder a customer’s journey.
In the research phase, for instance, you might compare how your company measures up against the competition in explaining your offerings. Is your language clear? Is there support available if a consumer has questions?
Examining such potential pain points is an opportunity to experiment with different intervention methods. Often, turning a consumer’s negative experience into a positive one will provide far more benefits than trying to make an already positive experience exceptional.
For example, if a customer is spending a long time on your homepage or help page, then it might be that a live chat option can help assist them and intervene before the customer becomes frustrated.
Which interventions work best? The metrics will bear this out over time.
Seeing Each Customer as an Individual
Over time, marketers who absorb this information will be able to take a more holistic approach to their marketing outreach.
Rather than blasting a campaign, the marketer will appear poised to help the consumer at every stage of their journey. For marketers, this is a completely different approach, but one that will yield better responses over time. As marketers know well, treating consumers as individuals rather as a demographic is smart and effective. Now marketers have the tools to make this happen.