man running through the airport with a briefcase
PHOTO: Andy Beales

Think back to the last time you responded to an unsolicited brand promotion you received via email.

Yeah, I'm drawing a blank too.

So riddle me this: why are brands still using a channel-based, department specific, campaign-minded approach to interacting with their customers? Why do we still receive irrelevant messages over email channels that go straight to spam versus more relevant messages via our preferred channel, say an in-app notification?

What Does the Future of the Marketing Campaign Look Like?

Forrester analysts Rusty Warner and Joe Stanhope noted in their recent report, "The Future of Enterprise Marketing Technology" (paywall): “regimented campaign strategies lack long-term effectiveness because they are slow, inflexible, and channel-focused.”

Ouch.

So, what’s the future of the campaign? The next iteration? Well marketers, 2021 is the time to focus on customer journeys and specifically moments-based marketing. And to achieve this, marketers will need to invest in three key areas within their marketing stack.

First, let’s define both customer journeys and moments-based marketing so we’re on the same page.

Customer journeys incorporate all experiences or interactions that customers go through when interacting with your brand. Customer journeys are not linear, not channel-based, and not delivered by a single department — such as marketing, sales or service. Thus, accounting for them and creating a fully positive experience for your customer requires quite a bit of orchestration. 

Within customer journeys, moments exist. Moments are points in time, within these customer journeys, where the customer needs you most. As a brand, you must show up and deliver. A moment can make or break a relationship between customer and brand. Take for example a lost credit card or airline ticket, a frozen bank account, or a laptop that won’t boot — all things can stop a customer in their tracks, and all are events where customers depend on brands to deliver. Moments-based marketing is the idea that interacting with customers during or surrounding these critical moments not only helps alleviate or satisfy a customer need, but it elevates the dependency and trustworthiness of the brand in the eyes of the customer.

Related Article: Critical Moments: Where Customer Experience Is Won or Lost

3 Areas to Invest In to Support Moments-Based Marketing

So, if moments-based marketing (within the context of larger customer journeys) is the wave of the future, where should organizations invest to modernize their marketing stack?

My suggestion is that brands focus on three main areas.

1. Customer Data Management

Managing customer data is the most critical component to managing customer journeys and moments-based-marketing. Historically, it has been very difficult for brands to create a holistic customer profile that can readily be referenced in real-time to address interaction moments within a customer journey.

Why? The main reason is due to the difficulty that comes with sourcing, extracting, and then integrating and joining data from a variety of both legacy and modern software applications. Data sources span not only channels — think email, social, call center, and device data — but also sources — first to third party and beyond. And stitching all of that data together for a comprehensive view of individual customers presents the problem.

Forrester research from November 2020 found that 42% of customers of enterprise martech vendors saw integrating offline and online interactions as a top challenge, despite massive technology investments. This has given rise customer data platforms (CDP). The answer to the customer data management challenge is not completely straightforward due to organizational uniqueness, but it begins with developing a plan for sourcing, loading and updating data across all sources — integrating and joining data into a larger, organizational-wide data ecosystem without having to duplicate. Modern, hybrid cloud data technologies will certainly aid you but planning out the process before the purchase is always best.

Related Article: Leap Into the Future: Shape Customer Journeys With Context

2. Advanced Analytical Insight

Some readers will certainly believe that their data is in great shape and that their customer data management is under control. This is great news! But it’s only one of the investment areas to consider as you are making the transition from campaigns and event triggers to journeys and moments-based marketing. Customer journeys can be complex and span different channels, departments, and points in time. To that end, brands have to be “contextually relevant” across all of these touchpoints — know how, when and what to deliver along varying journeys. To do that, marketers need to apply analytics to customer data.

As they construct customer journeys, journey builders will want to answer questions like the following:

  • How can I predict what customers may do along their journey?
  • Can I understand what propensity customers have to accept offers or actions?
  • How can I forecast volumes needed to manage customers and deliver content or recommendations as they traverse their journey?
  • Can I optimize channels and points in time by which to interact with my customers?
  • Can I test creative to understand what works well for certain customers?
  • Can I analytically determine customer to segment combinations?
  • Do my journeys allow me to make decisions, in real-time, about what a customer needs and desires?

The answers to questions like these lie in the use of analytics. As the Forrester report referenced above claims, "systems of intelligence need to take a customer journey analytics approach, which factors in qualitative and quantitative data across touchpoints to plan customer interactions in the context of a relationship and the entire journey." Using both simple (A/B testing) and more advanced (machine learning models for advanced prediction) techniques mentioned in the questions above will certainly help brands better plan out possible customer interactions or moments that will occur along the span of a customer journey.

Related Article: Get Big Picture Customer Experience Insights With Customer Journey Analytics

3. Reimagined Customer Engagement Processes

Making the gradual shift from campaigns to journeys can be daunting, but it’s a necessary shift that will benefit both your brand and your customers. Reimagining the customer engagement process means making the mind shift that customers should not be forced down a predefined path set by an organization — which is the premise of a campaign — but instead guided to an eventual conversion event.

Many times, this conversion event — whether a purchase, subscription or upgrade — is not immediate, but takes time and traverses multiple channels, devices, and points in time. Because of this, the customer journey takes the logical place of the 100-year-old traditional campaign. Journeys can be constructed that encompass multiple campaign types. For instance, batch style outbound campaigns, real-time inbound campaigns, and trigger-based campaigns can all be incorporated into a single customer journey. This allows organizations to now account for the typical movement that spans channels, devices, and point in time on the path to conversion.

Investing in reimagining your customer engagement processes is a big step. It means rethinking customer journey workflows and processes, modernizing from campaign management style software to customer journey building software, and embedding data and analytics as the foundation to customer journey activation. The rewards however are significant. Conversion rates will skyrocket, lead management processed will improve, customer retention will increase, and costs and interactions will be optimized to benefit both customers and your brand.

If you are ready to improve your overall customer experience, start the conversation inside your organization about making a paradigm shift from the campaign to the customer journey. Invest in customer data management, advanced analytics, and rethinking your current customer engagement processes. And if you aren’t sure exactly where to start or what needs the most attention, ask your customers — they will tell you!