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This article is part 1 of a 4 part article series on customer experience sponsored by Arm Treasure Data.

Customer experience is now a key differentiator for most companies, thanks to the rapid influx of data that companies can leverage to deliver a seamless omnichannel experience for their customers.

Addressing this need for actionable data insights, marketing technology vendors are multiplying, each vying to be seen as the must-have piece of any marketing stack.

Despite this high potential for companies to embrace this data-driven era, more data and new technology do not mean that companies are able to deliver the optimal customer experience that buyers expect. In fact, some companies are in an even worse position than before to act on the data at their disposal.

We commissioned our research to explore these changing dynamics and examine whether marketers actually have a better understanding of their customers, or if most are drowning in underused data.

The findings were clear: customer journeys are highly complicated — spanning months, multiple touchpoints, and a multitude of channels — and many companies need to adopt multi-touch attribution strategies to begin to unravel this complexity.

Related Article: Dont Kid Yourself at Decision Time: Why Bad Data Is Worse than None

You Asked, We Answered

Building on our report, we hosted a webinar where we discussed the data and conducted a live Q&A with data-driven marketers regarding what the customer journey data means for them and how they can get their companies started on revamping their own journeys.

Here are some of the top customer journey challenges facing marketers, and how to tackle them.

What Can We Do to Shorten the Length of the Customer Journey?

To shorten the length of the customer journey, marketing and sales teams must know what resources or action will meet the prospect’s current needs and pull them into the next stage of the journey.

The exact methods will vary based on your company’s customer journey, but it requires addressing any pain points and anticipating future needs. Some ways this can play out include:

  • For prospects that are stuck on your top of the funnel educational content, your team could send more targeted in-depth content such as a webinar or e-book that starts to transition them out of the education phase.
  • If a prospect has signed up for a free trial, your team can monitor that prospect’s activity to see if they have run into any issues. If the prospect has not yet accessed that trial when it is active, your team should reach out to encourage action, or even a guided tour or dashboard setup.
  • When prospects seem unresponsive to general outreach, consider sending customized product or service recommendations based on what areas of the site they have visited.

Why is Attribution So Important, and Why is a “First Touch” Approach Ineffective?

Attribution is the only way that you can know, to a high degree of confidence, what resources and actions are helping move customers down the funnel. Without an attribution model of any sort, you’re aimlessly creating materials or sending follow-ups at random times, hoping they lead to some positive action from the prospect.

If you’re only looking at the first touch — or if that’s all you can track — then you’re not able to see what gets the person to stay engaged after the first touch and eventually decide to purchase. First touch attribution can neglect the importance of the other touchpoints in the journey, including the value of long-form content, email blasts with educational content, and webinars.

If you rely on first touch attribution exclusively, your team could inaccurately allocate resources, meaning you’re overinvesting in items that aren’t as important, and underinvesting in things that are critical to the buyer’s journey, because you’re acting on only one piece of the data.

Related Article: Delivering the Right Content at Each Step of Your Buyer’s Journey

What is the Most Important Stage in the Buyer’s Journey?

The most important stage in any buyer’s journey, from a marketing and sales standpoint, should be the step where the most customers leave the sales funnel. If there are areas where prospects typically do not progress to the next stage, assess what you can do to increase the rate at which they proceed to the next step. This could include providing more materials that address potential pain points at this stage, and you could consider surveying prospects that have left the funnel to understand why they did.

If I have a CRM, Why Do I Need a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

CRMs are organized around the flow of getting prospects to close. A CRM is not designed to provide clean, detailed data that is inclusive of more than just sales data, including data like a prospect’s survey responses, the web pages they visit, their response rate to email, etc.

A CDP is very different from a CRM, but they work together. The CDP would encapsulate CRM data as well as marketing automation and other kinds of data.

How Do Companies Cover the Gap in Attribution in B2C When the Majority of Sales Go Through Distributors, and a Much Smaller Portion is Direct B2C via the Company Website?

This requires relationship building between companies and distributors. First, you need to educate any distributors on the importance of multi-touch attribution and how it is necessary for your company to help the distributor be more profitable. Then, it involves optimizing the phrases your company uses for specific campaigns so that your distributor could track customer search terms and report back to you. For example, you could launch a social media campaign with specific language that you can then cross-reference with your distributor’s customer search data.

Related Article: The Modern Buyer's Journey Needs Multi-Touch Attribution

Attribution Is Key to Optimizing Customer Journey

As illustrated in the above questions, many companies are struggling with ways to best follow their customers through the buyer’s journey. While technologies like a CDP could assist in this transition, companies need to start by building their customer journey maps and dedicating the necessary resources to understand the myriad touchpoints at play in any buying decision.

If you’re interested in hearing the full discussion and additional questions and answers about the state of the customer journey, you can watch the webinar recording here. And stay tuned for more articles exploring the research where we’ll teach you more about multi-touch attribution and the strategies you need to adopt for a more accurate look at your customer base and how they make their buying decisions.