Traditional To Digital Customer Journeys – A World Of Difference
Compare a digital customer journey with its traditional predecessor, and the scale of change and challenge for marketers is striking. Traditional customer journeys were largely controlled by marketers, defining the message, providing consumers with a limited number of touchpoints and a linear journey (starting with awareness, through consideration to purchase).
With a digital customer journey, the consumer is largely in control and empowered with many touch points, both online and offline, and a powerful array of influencers such as social networks, online communities, reviews and blogs.
Image Source : knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu
Technology is central to the customer journey, with mobile devices playing a pivotal role and the prevalence of connected technologies accelerating through the internet of things.
Rejection Of Mass Marketing
Now that Millennials, who’ve know nothing other than the digital ecosystem, have reached their 20’s in age, the era of mass marketing is in a death spiral. Only the most insular or naive marketers can miss or ignore this new reality. So the challenge is where next, and how quickly to migrate from the familiar, tried and tested (but rapidly diminishing in terms of results) mass marketing techniques, to the new one-to-one or segment level personalization to engage customers.
Focusing On The Customer Experience
The digital customer journey shifts the weight of focus onto the customer experience rather than the product, with an emphasis on creating more relevant, personal experiences to engage and convert customers.
“Activating customer journeys to capture value requires journeys to be treated like products that need to be actively managed, measured, and nurtured. How well companies are able to do that will dictate how successful they are in making customer journeys a competitive advantage.” (McKinsey)
Here are four of the building blocks to help you personalize customer journeys…
Power Of Data
Four or five years ago the term ‘big data’ started trending as a hot top in digital marketing. With marketers already immersed in using analytics tools like Google Analytics, the concept of more data wasn’t difficult to grasp, but the true applications and implications were unclear. Wind forward a few years and the terms ‘machine learning’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ have become hot topics.
Image Source : consumerig.com
Bringing together understanding of Big Data plus Machine learning/artificial intelligence has helped brands realise the power of customer data, using data on customers behaviour, history, preferences etc to drive effective decision making.
Harness Your Content Effectively
Data is great as an enabler, but how you use it is what really matters. What consumers care about is the brand experience, and specifically how the brand engages with them. So here of course we turn attention to content. Brands today are generating content on an unprecedented scale. Bloggers, Vloggers, social media teams, campaigns, how to videos, sponsorships etc. The list goes on as the marketing machine churns out new content relentlessly. Content marketing is hot, and brands are investing, probably a lot more than they realise if all the different internal and external teams and investments are added up.
‘Content marketing will be a $300bn industry by 2022, having doubled in just four years (source: Marketingmag.com)’
The challenge for marketers who want to create more personalized customer journeys is how to effectively leverage that tremendous investment in content to deliver the best experience for a consumer in real time.
Adopt An ‘Outside-In’ Mindset
For decades the marketing industry treated customers as a bit of an afterthought, subordinate to how brands controlled the message, delivered campaigns etc. With traditional customer journeys, you could just about get away with such an approach.
In the digital age, where customer have wrestled control away from brands, you have to think about the journeys that customers choose to take and experience they expect, not the experience you want to provide. A failure to adopt an ‘outside-in’ mindset that always thinks from the customer’s perspective is sure to undermine performance.
Test, Learn And Grow
An ability to test effectively and use analytics to determine the best way forward, has proven a power engine for growth in digital. However, too often when companies approach challenges such as personalizing customer journeys and using customer data effectively, the size of the challenge can intimidate and overwhelm the ability to progress.
Rethinking your customer journeys to create greater relevance is not something that you should approach top down, looking for a universal solution from the outset. You’ll make faster progress and improve your likelihood of ultimate success by starting small, targeting key audiences or journeys to focus on improving initially, and then using the insights to adapt and grow.
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