In today’s competitive marketing landscape, most demand generation marketers will tell you that customer experience is the top priority of their team’s strategy.
As a result, customer journey mapping has become a critical component of how you design campaigns that speak to your audience at the right time, in the right place, with the right offer. Organizations with stellar data quality understand that charting the customer journey offers your customers a best-in-class experience from the moment they encounter your product or service all the way through to post-sale activities like onboarding and maximizing product usage.
If you are not familiar with customer journey mapping, this post provides a brief definition to get you started and then dives into three ways your team can optimize the customer experience by charting the customer journey with high-quality data.
First, What Exactly is Customer Journey Mapping?
The concept of a “customer journey” has existed in the world of sales for quite some time. In sales, customer journey mapping helps reps determine everything from lead quality to the potential for upsell opportunities. The same holds true today, but for marketers, customer journey mapping remains a fairly recent evolution in campaign development. With increased data quality comes the ability for marketers to better understand how potential customers engage with your business and what marketing activities are likely to move leads further down the sales funnel.
Historically, three stages make up a traditional customer journey.
- Awareness. The stage where prospects convert into leads. At the awareness stage, prospects are just becoming aware they have a problem in need of solving. Your marketing strategy at this stage centers around helping your customer understand the implications of that problem, as well as the range of solutions (including yours) out there to help solve it.
- Consideration. At the “Consideration” stage, your lead is weighing different solutions to determine what makes the most sense for their business. Stakeholders are also positioning solutions for buy-in from senior leadership. As a result, your campaign focus at this stage should be around positioning your product as the best possible option capable of yielding the maximum return on investment.
- Decision. As the name indicates, this is where leads either convert to customers, or you lose them to a competitor. Case studies, product demonstrations, and competitor analysis are effective marketing techniques at this stage to nudge leads toward conversion.
However, within those three broader stages lie any number of nuanced steps your leads may take on the road to becoming a customer. Additionally, demand generation marketers have now extended the customer journey beyond the point of conversion. Today’s demand generation marketer approaches post-sale marketing activities with near-equal fervor to lead generation strategies.
With that definition in mind, consider some ways you can begin charting your own customer’s journey (with high-quality data, of course) to create an incredible candidate experience.
#1. Build Buyer Personas Based on a Combination of Firmographic and Behavioral Data
You are likely already using buyer personas on some level to drive your marketing strategy (perhaps to varying levels of success).
Whether it be dividing customers along basic firmographic lines (like location and industry), or rudimentary behavioral activity like the number of days since a lead last visited your website, customer segmentation is a critical step in delivering a quality customer experience.
However, you may not realize just how much customer segmentation relies on good data quality to yield solid results. Refining buyer personas beyond the simple approaches described above often requires enriched data, which offers more context and a complete view of your target customer.
This becomes especially true when you make the leap to customer journey mapping. Each buyer persona tends to have his or her own unique customer journey, with wants and needs that may or may not align with other personas. Understanding the nuanced customer journey of a particular persona requires a full context point-of-view that often cannot be extracted from just one data source. Using enriched data to create a truly accurate map to that particular persona’s journey is what can separate your campaigns from those of your competitors.
#2. Learn What Content Works Best from Your Existing Customers (and the Leads You Lost Along the Way)
Mapping the content your current customers ingested during their own customer journey can help refine your content marketing strategy.
There is no better place to start researching customer journeys than with your existing customers. Mapping the paths current customers took from the “Awareness” stage onward allows you to see what content from your campaign helped usher them further down the sales funnel.
Of course, you can pair those content-oriented customer journey maps with the buyer personas you have developed to create a customer journey map that shows you what stages your persona goes through to make a decision and the content that has historically helped get them there.
Do not forget, though, there is plenty to be learned from failed conversions, too. Mapping the customer journey of leads that did not convert to customers can also offer some valuable insights into what works (and what does not) when moving leads along the buying process.
#3. Focus on the Right Channels for Your Buying Personas
While the type of content you deliver to specific audiences obviously matters, so does the channel through which you deliver it. Knowing how to reach specific personas at each stage of the customer journey makes a big difference in whether or not your leads will move further down the sales funnel.
For example, at the “Awareness” stage, your customers may not appreciate weekly emails (even if they have given their email address in a lead capture form). However, at the “Consideration” stage, those emails might be more welcome and have a much higher click-through-rate.
How Does All of This Positively Impact the Customer Experience?
By understanding the journey your leads undergo to become customers, you are able to better understand which campaigns work best for your audience. In turn, that leads to better quality leads and higher conversion rates for the sales team.