In response to the new empowered customer, brands are ramping up customer analytic capabilities to better understand their customer behaviors and improve their ability to target offers for goods and services. Relevancy and personalization capability have now become the high bar in effective customer marketing. But now, there’s a new strategy in town and it’s called Customer Journey Management.
What does managing the customer journey mean? Instead of reacting to the paths your customers devise as they make their first purchase then move on to become loyal, this strategy involves shaping the customer path(s) and influencing your customers as they enter the lifecycle: considering, purchasing, engaging and becoming loyal.
Personally, I am very excited about the potential this strategy has to offer; especially when you think about the impact Customer Journey Management can have on creating and shaping a customer’s path to loyalty. If we, as marketers, can influence new customers to further engage after their first purchase, then more customers will become loyal. There will be fewer one time purchase customers and overall retention will increase. Sound like a great competitive growth strategy? If it does, here’s what you’ll need to execute.
Clear the Path with Journey Analytics
Fundamental to the Customer Journey Management strategy is understanding customer motivation in each stage of the lifecycle. The challenge becomes identifying the lifecycle stage your customers are in at any given moment. Are your customers establishing a repeating pattern? Are they engaging in a way that indicates loyalty? Journey analytics reveals the interaction your customers have with you as they travel the loyalty path. With this insight, you can respond to your customer actions or inactions with relevant communications designed to keep them on the path, or better, accelerate their journey.
Take a Proactive Approach with Planning
To execute and manage a customer journey strategy, you will need to be nimble and ready with messages and offers at critical points along the customer path. This requires a considerable amount of planning and pre-design of communications including relevant offers that bring value to your customer at any particular lifecycle stage. Once designed, created and implemented, your tactics can be continually tested to see how behavior is affected. Content can be modified, offers can be adjusted, and cadence can be tweaked until the most success mix is uncovered.
Power up Your Email Service Provider
If you are struggling with manual processes and unable to integrate customer data directly into your email execution engine or if you lack cross-channel integration, you’ll need to shore up this capability in order to execute your lifecycle journey strategy. Automation is the most effective way to execute this strategy and your email service provider must have enough horsepower to trigger off messages based on a myriad of customer behaviors. But be aware. While many ESPs claim self-enablement, the complex use of these advanced tools require professional services to fully utilize the capabilities. But the investment in these professional services will yield great returns. Automation improves the customer experience with hyper-relevant communications while reducing the cost of labor needed to execute campaigns. Further, why license advanced technology, and not be able to use it?
The potential of a Customer Journey Management strategy based on the customer lifecycle is hard to ignore. In fact, many claim that this strategy shifts the power from the customer and places it back in the hands of marketers. According to the Harvard Business Review article, Competing on Customer Journeys (November 2015 issue), “Now, leveraging emerging technologies, processes and organizational structures, companies are restoring the balance of power and creating new value for brands and buyers alike”. There’s little doubt that this strategy is a game changer for those brands willing to invest in what it takes to execute and manage a Customer Journey strategy… journey analytics, message pre-design, and testing various tactics on technology capable of advanced automation.
About the author:
Connie is passionate about customer relationship strategy. And she truly understands consumer behavior. An executive level advisor for some of the world’s most prestigious brands, Connie has a track record of delivering game changing customer strategy alongside significant bottom line results. Through the years, companies such as GE Capital, Intuit Software, and Costco Wholesale have sought Connie’s expertise.