The customer journey is unique to each brand, product and service; however, these 3 critical, consistent elements will help you better empathize with and understand your customers.
Part of our job as marketers is to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers. One of the most important ways we accomplish this is through the delivery of exceptional customer experiences.
Creating above average digital customer experiences is a key challenge for many organizations, especially given the myriad of platforms available to consumers. However, the reward for getting it right can be a long lasting relationship, with the maximum lifetime value of your customers realized.
One key component in improving the consumer's digital experience is an accurate idea of the customer journey. This illustrates a customer's path through their shopping experience and how they interact with your brand, platforms, and products. Developing a customer journey model helps brands pinpoint their key moments of value, opportunity or friction with consumers.
Customer journeys are unique to each product or service. However, there are consistent elements to each customer journey that marketers must consider to ensure they receive the most value for their efforts:
Empathize with Your Customers
Leverage emotional cues to convince consumers to take an action or move to the next step. In Mark Ingwer's recent article, "A Call for Empathetic Marketing," he argues that trying to move a consumer only towards a sale is short-sided and misses the deeper role emotion plays in the marketing mix. I agree. As you consider all of the potential actions a consumer could take on their journey, a sale is obviously important, but certainly not the only intended action.
When we think critically and consider each of the potential needs of customers throughout their journey, our results are likely to be more impactful.
Provide a High Level of Utility
Utilitarian marketing has permeated into digital experiences recently, especially with the pervasive focus on mobile. Mitch Joel, one of the proponents of utilitarian marketing, said in an HBR Blog Network article that, "Marketing should no longer be just about messaging and brand loyalty. Brands can provide a high level of utility that enhances a consumer's daily life."
Using an array of digital tools, marketers have the ability to make a positive impact on consumers. Ensuring that each step in the customer journey provides tangible value might be incredibly challenging, but it's paramount.
Context is (Almost) Everything
We are GLUED to our screens. Based on Google's "The New Multi-screen World Study," we spend an average of 4.4 hours of leisure time in front of screens each day. Our choice of device used to consume media is typically driven by several things: the time we have to spend, our location, our attitude and our goals.
In the context of a customer journey, it can be powerfully informative to map accompanying behaviors with the context of how consumers use various devices to experience your brand. This is key in identifying new ways to further enhance your relationship with them.
While there are many important elements to developing a customer journey, these three are most critical, as they make you consider:
Using this information and perspective to help inform your decisions will pay off in the long run, as you develop a relationship with your customers and more effectively solve their problems.
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Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.
Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.
A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.
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