Over the last 10 years, the customer journey has changed dramatically. From a linear model, we went on to a fish model, then to what I would call a spider web today.
It used to be quite easy to understand what path customers were taking because there were not many options.
Social media started to complicate the pattern as customers took the reins of information sharing and were the ones creating and influencing trends. This was a complete change. However, customers’ journey maps were not as complicated yet. We would take an omnichannel, omni-message approach to solve for the different touchpoints.
Today, with the growing use of AI, more elements are influencing and making the customer's journey a spider web:
The number of channels is growing (chatbots, VR, …)
Reactions to information they are presented
Actions across channels
Sentiments that trigger actions…
The richness of information is making brands’ interactions with customers more complicated as they need to account for more variables in the messages they are crafting.
The beauty of all this data is that we can understand more precisely who our customers are and therefore target them way better. Marketing actions are more efficient. We are indeed seeing a conversion rate five times higher with targeted emails than with mass communication.
However, if a brand wants to benefit from all this data and get more granular information about its customers, it becomes more complicated. The journeys have more connection points and more decision branches.
How could a customer journey map help your business?
Creating a customer journey map has a lot of benefits. It will help you with the following:
Decision making: you should understand what is and what is not working and help target the customers that bring you the highest ROI.
Better marketing budget allocation: you will realize that some channels are more efficient than others and some segments are not worth pursuing so you can better refine your SEM cost.
Highest ROI: each marketing dollar spent will be more efficient because more targeted
Better target your major personas and really optimize for your 80/20
What can you do better for your customers?
By knowing them better and especially by identifying the best segments, reactions, and channels, you can improve their experience.
You can get them to what matters faster: based on your personas, you can create different website experiences. Not every customer is supposed to have the same experience. With the progress in digital, we will come to a point when each customer will have a very unique and tailored experience, not only using recommendations, but also using imagery, colors, actions based on brain structure and eye movements.
You can streamline their experience: the sea of offers, content and information customers have to go through is nowadays overwhelming. Nobody can take as much on so they have to focus on the first pages or clicks. If you do not quickly serve the information, the customer will leave. You want to make their life easier.
You can inject relevant content at the right time, helping fasten conversion: We call these micro-moments, where customers can access a video, for example, that gives them more insights about the product without being intrusive. You can also use native ads to achieve this result.
You can nudge the customer at the right time, removing friction so open rates are higher.
You can retain your customers by quickly serving them what they want to see or know. In the future, a customer getting to a site may not even have to go to another one as the site will adjust immediately to what they need (offer, price). This will cause the need for comparison and research to be removed as it will be done for them in real-time.
What is a representation of a customer journey?
There are different ways to represent a customer journey. LinkedIn is giving some examples here. You can find a large variety of how to represent a customer journey here. In general, you want to highlight:
1-2 personas (your 80%)
The purchasing steps: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Post-purchase
The organizational structure…
You can go as deep or as high level as you want. The more you understand, the more relevant you can be to your customer. The more personalized you are, the more conversions you will get, but it also means that you will have to produce more creatives. This means that you need to weigh in infrastructure costs with the conversion rate and see where to stop in order to get the highest ROI.
How is technology helping?
Technology will help in the execution of your strategy but it will not know where you want to put your emphasis. AI has some capabilities about optimizing for what seems to be the most profitable segment, however, it is based on the activities it sees on your website. If your website is actually not doing the right work by targeting the persona you want, the results might be biased. Remember also, that AI needs a maestro in order to be efficient. A business needs to know its goals and deploy the technology that will help achieve them. No technology today is able to tell you what your goals should be.
Trends captured by technology need to be analyzed and vetted if they are aligned with the defined goals. Getting this data could also be a way for an organization to go into a different direction if the initial strategy was wrong. This data has to be carefully analyzed to determine if it is the trend to follow or an underlying trend inferred by a particular situation. It means that the human needs to be able to define if the trend is episodic or represents a real direction for the business. Customer journey maps are here to understand if things are in the rails or if they are deviating.
The customer journey map is one of the strategy tools that each company should have as it is difficult to steer a company in the right direction without knowing who the target customers are and what is needed from them.