A Close Look at Disney’s Customer Journey—And How Your Lifecycle Marketing Can Be Better

By Heike Young

Were you a Toy Story, Aladdin, or Jungle Book kid? Maybe a different Disney movie played in your VCR over and over as a child.

I think most marketers can agree that Disney is one of the ultimate marketing companies for all time. Disney knows how to personalize experiences, messages, and merchandise for every age and interest. And Disney never stops innovating, always introducing new technologies to their repertoire, whether that’s in a film or on a ride.

On this week’s episode of the Marketing Cloudcast, the marketing podcast from Salesforce, we learned about lifecycle marketing strategies that apply to every brand—and also discussed some thought-provoking examples of customer journey marketing from a former Disney senior marketing manager.

Catherine Wood is founder and consultant of Captivate Digital Now. She has made her career in retail and lifestyle marketing, working as director of relationship marketing for NordstromRack.com and HauteLook, and senior marketing manager for Disney Media Networks and Games.

If you’re not yet a subscriber, check out the Marketing Cloudcast on iTunes, Google Play Music, or Stitcher.

Take a listen here:

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here were a few top takeaways.

The Journey Must Grow with Customers Over Time

As Catherine explains, Disney’s customer journey starts when a family has a child. Many products, services, franchises, and characters will interact with the family over time.

As the child grows, Disney hopes to have then gained two brand loyalists: the parents and the child. From there, the journey changes. From the time that a child is very young through the time that they become an adult, their tastes grow and change with them.

That’s why Disney’s acquisitions of companies like Marvel and ESPN are so smart: Disney knows how to grow with their customers at every stage.

What are you offering to your customer? Can you change and grow with them over time? Is that different products? Is it different services? Is it different franchises? Don’t let those offers live in silos. Think of new ways to expand your messaging and offers to match where customers are in that journey.

The Magic Band is the Disney Experience, Evolved

Disney has really gone all-in with connected devices, especially with the evolution of the Magic Band. Consider a family that’s planning their trip to Disney World. They go online. Maybe it’s their first visit and they don’t know exactly what to expect or how to manage their time there. But they do know that they want to get the most possible value out of that visit to Orlando.

Guests are invited to download the My Disney Experience mobile app, where they can then plan your itinerary. Disney then invites guests to order their Magic Band, which is preloaded with their itinerary and allows each member to scan every time they go to an attraction or restaurant.

With all of this data, Disney can fully understand how your experience is transpiring. With that, Disney is in an amazing position to not just maximize the experience of that visit to Disney World, but to also identify what future offers might be of value and interest to that family to keep them engaged over time.

The Customer Experience Has to Be About the Customer’s Convenience, Not Your Brand’s Benefit

We all know the stress of what it’s like to go on vacation. No one wants to wear a fanny pack with a million maps, notes, and guides. With Disney’s Magic Bands and the mobile app, Catherine explains, all that information is at your fingertips.

Plus, kids can have money loaded onto their Bands so older kids can do some exploration, snacking, and shopping on their own, and parents don’t have to worry about them losing cash or cards. It’s a seamless and convenient experience for the family. Yet Disney learns a lot about how a family experiences the park during this time—so everyone wins.

Disney understands the convenience factor. They know customers won’t adopt a wearable just for the sake of wearables. Customers won’t join your journey just because you want them to. They do it if it’s convenient and provides value.

And that’s just scratching the surface of our conversation with Catherine Wood. Get the complete low-down on lifecycle marketing in this episode of the Marketing Cloudcast. Join the thousands of smart marketers who already subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, and Stitcher.

New to podcast subscriptions in iTunes? Search for “Marketing Cloudcast” in the iTunes Store and hit Subscribe, as shown below.

Tweet @youngheike with marketing questions or topics you’d like to see covered next on the Marketing Cloudcast.