Marketers often analyze data to help inform strategic or tactical direction. After all, that’s why campaign and site analyses are common practice before optimization. Generally speaking, marketers don’t rethink and modify a data strategy before launching a campaign and conducting in-depth analysis. We may not like to admit it, but we’ve all found pages that weren’t tagged or customer data that should have been added to a database. Unfortunately, such mishaps are often discovered after a campaign has concluded.
The customer architecture map is a solution that can help marketers, data architects, analysts, and business intelligence strategists alike.
A customer architecture map is a visual depiction of customer touch points, data environment, and the associations between them. It looks like a cross between a campaign flow diagram and a Web site map and chronologically illustrates each customer touch point. This may sound elaborate for simple campaign flow diagrams, but relationship marketers and CRM (define) managers find the customer architecture map to be an important strategic planning tool.
Creating a customer architecture map can be as simple or as complex as your needs. But the exercise won’t be successful without knowledgeable stakeholders and a strategic framework for evaluating customer touch points and the data collected (or not collected) for each.
Creating the Customer Architecture Map
- Define business goals. Establish your goals at the outset of the exercise. This keeps efforts focused on the objectives at hand.
- Be the customer. Where do your customers interact with your brand? Walk through the experience design from start to finish. Identify each step along the way. Each step becomes a touch point on your customer architecture map. You may discover steps you weren’t aware of. Don’t be surprised if you find opportunities for improvement along customer or campaign paths.
- Identify data sources. What databases or repositories capture data for the touch points you identified in step one? What data, if any, are shared between them? Note each data source alongside its corresponding customer touch point as you construct your map. For campaign planning and reporting purposes, it may help to identify the person who manages or has access to the data source.
- Tabulate metrics. What data do you capture for the customer touch points? What potentially beneficial data don’t you capture? Can useful metrics be derived from the data? Answers to these questions inform a gap analysis and will help identify improvement opportunities. It’s also helpful to identify what your metrics serve to inform. Are they used for marketing or CRM purposes, such as to enhance customer intimacy, reduce churn, and target communications? Are they used to inform product development and innovation to increase revenue? Do any metrics inform your business operations, such as service costs? Try dividing metrics into three categories: marketing, products/services, and operations.
- Determine data collection methodologies. What tracking system is used to capture data for each touch point? Each data source may gather data in a different way. You may collect online advertising data with Web beacons and cookies, whereas your site may rely on log file analysis. Understanding the collection methodologies and their differences can be very important for analysis.
- Create the customer architecture process flow map. Place customer touch points in chronological order on your map. Insert the databases and data repositories near their associated touch points. Draw the relationships between the databases, and identify the person or vendor with access to that database. Finally, highlight the customer touch points that correspond to the key success metrics you identified in step four. For campaign planning purposes, insert marks or notations to identify what portions of the customer map specific vendors and individuals are responsible for.
Again, the process can be simple or complex; it all depends on what you want to accomplish. Basic demand generation campaigns may not warrant an in-depth approach, but complex relationship marketing campaigns require assessment beyond these six steps. Determine business goals before you begin. If you need a communication tool to serve as a touch point for stakeholders and vendors during campaign planning and deployment, keep it simple. No need to overcomplicate the process.
Put Your Customer Architecture Map to Use
Regardless of the complexity required to address your goals, the assessment process and final product can be used to:
- Illustrate customer touch points. Your Web site, unique toll-free numbers, and internal databases that store customer profile and registration data all qualify as touch points. Each touch point represents a customer’s interaction with your brand. Understanding each touch point can lend invaluable insight into a customer’s experience.
- Communicate campaign planning and deployment processes. Ever participated in campaign planning or deployment with multiple vendors or individuals? Use your customer architecture map to communicate the data and reporting strategy, as well as the roles and responsibilities for individuals involved in the planning and deployment processes.
- Identify gaps in data collection and reporting metrics. Do you capture the data necessary to inform your success metrics?
- Align customer initiatives with business processes.
- Facilitate a deeper quantitative understanding of customers and prospects.
- Enhance cross-channel knowledge.
- Aid in the channel integration planning process.
- Identify data redundancies. The final map for a Fortune 1000 company I recently worked with revealed identical data were being collected and backed up in two separate locations. A substantial cost was associated with the data collection and warehousing in one location and was free in the other. We were able to eliminate a growing cost center.
- Establish business rules for databases, data repositories, and ETL (define) processes that must contribute to a business intelligence suite or CRM system.
- Discover opportunities for operational process improvement.
Rethink your marketing strategy by creating a customer architecture map before conducting analysis. Once you’ve been through the process a few times, you’ll be able to use this tool for data strategy planning and campaign deployment. For many marketers, especially those new to relationship marketing, the thought and creation process are just as valuable as the end result.