Key Trend for 2015: The Customer Journey Moves to Center Stage

For marketing traditionalists, digital marketing technology is still primarily used for email, and each marketing channel, whether online or offline, remains siloed. Some marketers have become quite sophisticated in testing, personalization, and design, but for this more traditional group, digital marketing is still about batch-and-blast push emails focused on products, offers, and company news.

Today’s more “mainstream” marketers are harnessing marketing automation technologies and using their digital marketing platforms to increase efficiency and effectiveness – scheduling their emails out over time, using automation for projects like drip nurtures, or replicating campaigns for new events or product launches.

Leading marketers – the organizations pushing boundaries and driving significant business results – realize that great marketing entails helping prospects along in the customer journey. What makes a customer’s journey especially meaningful? Helpful content as a prospect moves through his or her buying experience and additional follow-up information to encourage lifetime loyalty.

From researching alternatives and planning a change to evaluating and comparing providers and selecting a solution, digital marketing can both orchestrate and support each of these stages. Several ingredients are necessary to support this new approach, including:

  • An Email Magnet: The email magnet is designed to increase new opt-ins to your program. Without a strong email magnet, everyone remains as an anonymous visitor on your website, and custom tailored marketing including customer journey approaches remain difficult. Hopefully you have become much more creative in your email magnet offers beyond simply offering a discount or a newsletter subscription by creating something irresistible! Invest the necessary funds to advertise and market your email magnet including search advertising and retargeting where appropriate.
  • Web Tracking: Web tracking allows you to understand where site visitors have been, what buttons they have clicked, and what content they have consumed. Used properly, Web tracking allows you get the insight you need about what content each person is reading and watching. By incorporating the data you gather from individual’s Web behaviors, you can deliver extremely relevant, targeted messages.
  • Implicit Profiling: Implicit profiling is a technique where you assign database values for a particular buyer persona based on what pages an individual is visiting and what content he or she is consuming and clicking. Implicit profiling can be the beginning of assigning a prospect to a certain customer journey.
  • Single Identity: Everyone is viewing your content and collateral using two, three, or even four devices, visiting websites, social channels, apps, etc. Having a single identity capability inherent in your digital marketing platform ensures that each person’s customer journey is consistent and updated across all devices and channels.
  • A Content Management System: To be successful, it’s imperative to marry your content management system with your digital marketing platform in order to serve up the right content at the right stage in the customer journey. Using the implicitly assigned personas and buyer stages captured and stored in your digital marketing platform along with your marketing content, the content management system has the information you need to provide a unique website experience for each individual visitor.

Once you have the ingredients in place described above, you can begin to implement a newly architected resource center. The resource center becomes central in this new approach to helping customers in their customer journey. Instead of just throwing out all the content you have ever created and putting that in a self-service resource center, the resource center provides a guided path to the right content at the right time based on and individual’s persona and buyer journey stage.

Automation and email can support the resource center by offering the appropriate content and encouraging re-engagement with the resource center. But this time, email and automation have evolved from one-off offers and push messages to rule-based behavioral messages that are in complete alignment with the customer journey.

Marketers that take the time to invest in buyer persona development, customer journey mapping, and next-generation digital resource centers based on implicitly derived profiles and buyer stages will lead their peers in 2015!

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