How To Intercept, Adapt & Influence The Customer Journey

The last time you shopped for something online, did you head directly to a retailer’s website and make the purchase..?

Think about it…

There is a very good chance you took a whole load of other actions (over a period of time) before finally making the leap and reaching for your credit card.

In most cases, neither consumers nor potential clients rarely know exactly what they want; this is certainly something to be excited over as a marketer or business owner.

Customers read blog content, check out YouTube, ‘Like’ their friend’s Facebook posts and scour Twitter for information.

They might see a native ad that piques their interest, although they may not even be aware it’s an ad.

Similarly, they can be steered by multiple remarketing campaigns, white papers or in-store interaction tech…

So, guess what?

By the time they actually get that credit card out of their wallet, the journey is already over. Their mind is 100% made up.

Steps need to be taken before that happens to ensure:

1. The customer chooses you

2. They spend the amount of money you want them to spend

3. They buy the products or services you would prefer them to purchase

Influencing The Customer Journey

Many of us don’t talk about funnels any more. Well, some do — but funnels have problems.

With a funnel, something travels from the top to the bottom, right? Unfortunately, the reality of a customer journey isn’t quite so simple.

Let’s be clear that such a journey is not a direct route. It’s a meandering path that frequently doubles back and takes unexpected turns. This to and fro could span lengthy time periods…

Typical customer journeys:

  • Could last a few minutes, a couple of days or several months
  • Could be multi-directional and may head out of the funnel, across it, or straight down
  • Almost always involve multiple traffic channels, including social media
  • Frequently consist of many devices — which means marketers can lose potential customers mid-way along the journey
  • Can hit dead ends caused by all kinds of factors: mediocre content, poor website design, distraction or a lack of purchase information

Every journey is unique; every journey has pitfalls. You can’t possibly estimate where a potential customer is headed without some kind of guidance and a way to measure success.

So, you’re going to need something much more concrete.

3 Reasons Why Data Is Essential

Great marketing isn’t based on gut feeling or guesswork. Increasingly, it’s all about data.

If you want to influence the customer journey, you need to plan, analyse and react…proactively!

Here are 3 data-driven steps to making that happen:

1. Influencing The Journey

Consumers have never been savvier. They know they will find more information online than they’ve ever found in a physical store.

As helpful as this may be for them, it is also a golden opportunity for you to control their journey.

Precision is key. You’re going to need to provide the right content to the ideal audience, when it suits them. You’re going to need to pitch it at an accurate level and tone, according to the touch points you see using the data available to you.
For example, you should know whether to hit them with a direct ‘buy now’ ad or gently nudge them with some words of encouragement towards your new product range via email…or even just set your live chat box to pop-up, directing them to a topical blog post.

2. Measuring The Outputs

Marketers and business owners aren’t used to playing data scientists. But times have changed…

Be prepared to crunch the numbers to find out whether your influence on the customer journey is hitting home. (It’s now more important than ever to analyse results in real-time, too.)

Measuring influence isn’t an easy task, particularly when consumers are moving across devices and channels so frequently. Yet the vast amounts of data gained from this process make it incredibly powerful for sellers.

Fortunately, you won’t be expected to pull up endless spreadsheets. There are exciting measurement platforms built specifically for this purpose; they can be constantly adapted to the outputs on which you’re focusing.

I’ll get to that in a second…

3. Solving Specific Problems

Customers might move up, down and sideways…but they are always on a trajectory.

They’re looking for help to solve a problem; their unique problem. They’re looking for somebody to provide a solution. The closer they get to the answer, the more detail and trust they need.

Your goal is to provide content that syncs perfectly with expectations.

20 years ago, it would be normal to delve into the demographics watching a certain TV show then design adverts to tap into their presumed interests. But now, you have instant access to qualified data that lets you reach out to people in a hyper-personalised, ultra-tailored way.

Personalisation is not about being pushy or intrusive. Don’t turn into that creepy, pushy sales guy we all dislike. However, the more you know somebody; the better you can solve their problems.

This is where you combine everything together in harmony. Content needs to be delivered at the perfect level of detail at precisely the right moment, in alignment with the data you’re seeing; extracted and utilised as close to real-time as possible!

Bringing It All Together: A Customer Journey Designer Tool

Measuring a customer journey is a multi-faceted process. At a glance, it looks like a near-impossible task for a small business to undertake.

So, like most complex tasks in digital marketing, it needs to be broken down using the ideal bit of kit. You need a robust platform that supports and predicts the entire customer journey — not just a slice of it.
The problem is, prices of such software are typically sky high and require heaps of team training to implement.

That’s why IBM’s Journey Designer seems to be a revolution.
 …and it’s completely free for a whole 12 months.
Yes, you did read me correctly. Free for an entire 12 months. Are IBM crazy? Nope. They are very clever because they know once you start to use the tool; you probably won’t want to stop!

Check it out: This Journey Designer is expertly crafted to support marketers in practically any business of any size. It shows you the customer journey as a storyboard (because visualisation is so much easier to digest) and the tool makes a very complex journey instantly legible.
It lets your team/s collaborate in real time; critical for making sense of any live marketing campaign and making any necessary ad hoc adjustments.

Using Journey Designer, you can reach out to suppliers and partners without even leaving the app. Marketers and business owners have everything related to the customer journey in one planning interface.
Are you realising how awesome this is yet?

In its navigable timeline view, the tool enables you to drill right down into data, as it happens. You can set (and customise) target interaction rates for each individual touch point.
See The Journey Designer in action here.

Customer Journey Take-Aways

In the digital landscape, marketing is changing. The pace of change is rapid and it affects businesses of all sizes. Customers are progressively sophisticated in the methods they use to research purchases.
The most successful businesses are meeting customers on their journey and adapting this path in order to influence what (and how) they buy.

To achieve similar heights, you must accurately anticipate and guide such journeys by making better use of the data goldmine available at your fingertips.

You need to collaborate.

You need to personalise.

You need to measure and react in real time.

For business of all sizes, there’s really no way to plan multi-channel campaigns without a credible, proven and intuitive journey planning tool. It’s the future, yet many organisations are getting left behind by not keeping up with change.
The Journey Designer ticks all boxes and provides both the storyboarding tools you need along with a built-in collaborative platform to bring everything to fruition.

The tool is available as a free trial for 12 months. Once you’ve signed up, your trial lasts a whole year. That’s plenty of time to plan, analyse and react across several marketing campaigns without spending a penny.

Follow this direct link to the sign-up page if you just want to get playing straight away…
It’s a no-brainer for marketers and business owners; even for the sake of experimentation.

Remember to share your experiences here :-)

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I wrote this article not only to provide insight into the complex nature of customer journeys but also to share with you the new Journey Planner as part of IBM’s promotion of this tool. The relationship is client-based. But you already knew that, right? :-)

All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. This is awesome!
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