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Asking the Experts

Asking The Experts: The Customer Journey is Vital (A Rebuttal)

It’s not what it once was, but the customer journey has evolved into an essential business tool

Keith Loria
October 29 2019

For marketers, the customer journey is as imperative as ever; customers first discover the company or product, welcome the brand’s nurturing, and then move down the funnel, until they’re sold.

“Understanding the customer journey is still important in today’s world,” said Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing. “Knowing the behavior and buying habits of your customers allows you to be able serve their needs, maximize their customer experience, cross-sell, and retain.”

For from PostFunnel on customer journeys:
Asking the Experts: The Need for a Customer Journey is Over
Power Stepping your Way to a Full Marketing Journey: A Quick Guide
Real-Time Marketing vs Real-Time Customer Engagement—What’s the Difference?

Alex LePage, senior product marketing director, marketing solutions at Neustar, said the customer journey has never been more important, but marketers can’t define journeys by static segmentation, generic demographics, and predetermined personas.

Therefore, we likely won’t see personalization for every interaction with each individual consumer as 1:1 marketing suggests.

“Marketers should pursue a journey that uses analytics,” he said. “Both real-time behavioral observation but also the output of advanced multi-touch attribution measurement to define and segment journeys in order to drive experience management, whether that be reactive or proactive marketing.”

Improved Tech Plays a Role

Today’s technology allows marketers to better map the customer journey than ever before. Membrillo noted that brands like Disney World, have utilized their technology for behavioral analytics and customer journey mapping.

“With their MagicBands launched in 2013, Disney provides resort guests with radio-powered wristbands. The bracelets have Touch Point sensors and work with the My Disney Experience app,” he says. “Guests can use the MagicBands to act as park tickets, room keys, Fastpass+ reservation tool, and credit card. The bands can also track their on-property activity.”

Disney can better understand where their guests spend time and money, analyze behaviors of demographics and group types, and solve various pain points.

Taradel’s director of marketing, Chris Barr, argues that the customer journey is as important as ever, largely because of machine learning.

“With such vast amounts of data available, it is now possible for marketers to create a positive feedback loop. By tracking and tweaking the customer journey, you capture new data, which can then be used to further optimize and improve the customer journey,” he said. “Fundamentally, nothing has changed. Customers still go through the same journey—awareness, interest, research, and purchase decision-making.”

That’s not to say that any customer journey is, or should ever be, set in stone. Journeys should encompass a collection of insights and customer data, treated as an evolving reference point.

“As your customers demonstrate new patterns or your design triggers new flows, your customer journey should be updated accordingly,” Ruane said. “A single monolithic customer journey sets you up for tunnel vision.”

Evolving Journey

CMO of Chanty, Olga Mykhoparkina, said that while it is difficult to predict every customer’s journey, it’s a massive opportunity to strengthen your brand.

“Customer journeys represent the ideal path customers take from the first interaction with your product until the moment they become a satisfied user,” she said. “All companies should work on their customer journeys simply because it will let them see the bigger picture. If there are any issues with the product or onboarding, you will be able to see them before they actually happen because you’ve encountered them while you were creating the customer journey.”

Bill Fukui VP of sales & marketing at Page 1 Solutions, LLC, noted that brands can still model the customer journey to some extent, but it’s become much more involved and multifaceted. Factors such as the key demographics that purchase your products and services, are generally stable. The key change in the customer journey stems from the ever-growing channels allowing consumers to discover a business.

“In order to model this multi-pronged journey effectively, marketers and brands need to analyze where and how users find them (i.e., online search, social media, digital ads) and develop a consistent voice for each of those marketing channels to drive leads and new business,” he said. “Thankfully, there is so much more data available to help identify changes in the steps throughout the customer journey and the ability to customize and segment accordingly. The key is to monitor and update, not set it and forget it.”

Phil Nottingham, director of marketing for Wistia.com’s director of marketing, Phil Nottingham, said Phil Nottingham that it’s sometimes futile to try and accurately map the customer journey out, as today’s consumers take non-linear journeys along the traditional purchase funnel, a difficult metric to measure accurately.

“We’ll get recommendations for products and services through private networks on apps like Slack and Whattsapp, which marketers can never see nor track,” he said. “Therefore, our attempts to value marketing assets in accordance with their funnel positions leads to the overvaluation of channels that tend to be more conversion-centric like email, direct and PPC, while undervaluing everything we’re doing to improve our  brand perception.”

Nevertheless, as marketers, it’s essential to understand the main reasons customers seek out products and discover how best to speak to them, and that means the customer journey will always be essential.

“It’s very necessary for all businesses to have a customer journey to have a consistent flow of income and a full pipeline,” said Kristin Marquet, founder & creative director of the Splendor Studio. “Without a customer journey, how can a business reach new customers, sell to existing customers, and become sustainable? Simply put, it can’t.”

How to build your customer model

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Keith Loria

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is an award-winning journalist who has been writing for major newspapers and magazines for close to 20 years, on topics as diverse as sports, business and healthcare. You can view some of his recent writing at keithloria.contently.com.

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