Never have marketers had more customer data and messaging touchpoints than right now. And never have there been so many media options to reach, empower, and complicate the customer journey.
With the era of “omnichannel” ushered in and morphing monthly, each media channel and tracking tool is churning out unprecedented amounts of information about consumer activity and campaign measurement. Consumers are increasingly aware that marketers are listening, and they are learning quickly how to seek out information for themselves in real-time while awash in 5,000 advertisements per day. Every day, marketers must make a conscious decision and constant revisions to make themselves and their messages relevant. The immediacy of a message and the intimacy level desired makes personalization, journey mapping, and cross-channel coordination and measurement the next marketing frontier.
Achieving competency in these efforts requires an agile plan and technically savvy teams – to safeguard against confused brand messaging across channels and ensure that decisions are driven by data. Lots of data.
Journey mapping is nothing new. Understanding the consumer’s trek to your doorstep has been a standard practice since marketers primarily distributed messages through print ads. What has changed is the breadth, depth, and agility that marketers are able to achieve through technology. By melding a company’s path to sale with an individual’s path to purchase, marketers can succeed in making the most of the customer journey.
Considering that data has been compared to oil as the next great natural resource, the crux is how to mine it and refine it. Any company with customer data (email, transactional, etc.) can benefit from deep dive analysis. The resulting insight into customer patterns empowers companies as marketing plans develop. For smart organizations, customer data will serve as guideposts for budget allocation, channel optimization, content strategy, and campaign planning.
As data becomes more accessible, complete, and robust, it will not only allow marketers to customize shopping experiences, it will refine all consumer-facing processes. Currently email is the hub of choice for delivering marketing messages, but social media and mobile deployment are hot on its heels. Any communication that opens with “Dear Sir/Madame” or “Valued Customer” is already completely archaic for consumers trained to see the next 20 product recommendations as they visit their favorite providers and surf the web.
Suffice it to say that if a company does not know its customers, it is likely that their customers do not know the company, either. Customers want relationships with their preferred brands, at least to the extent that they expect to be treated with importance and served product ideas that make sense to them. Each piece of the consumer’s experience should be complementary and not discordant. Regardless of the devices that consumers use, they want a smooth, consistent experience with a brand.
All told, the ultimate goal of data gathering, analysis, and mapping the customer journey is to get the customer to buy. Constructing a meaningful and consistent messaging plan from the first touch to the last is not an easy task, but should be a primary goal of every marketing team. Leveraging customer data and new techniques and technologies should lead to more engaged and satisfied consumers – until the next marketing disruption happens, anyway.