The rapidly evolving landscape of new channels and technologies is dominating the way in which customers purchase goods and services. Today, an increasing amount of customers is turning to digital channels to self-educate about products and services. They’re either waiting until much later in the buying process to speak with a salesperson or not at all.
Businesses that are active in this digital environment must rethink their engagement strategies to align with the way customers are buying.
The most successful organizations have found the best way to do just that: they increase revenue and reduce costs by providing optimized customer journeys across digital and traditional channels throughout the customer lifecycle.
These companies lead the way in showing customers what best-in-class digital engagement “feels like”. They also set the standard by which these customers evaluate all other businesses (including yours). For example, 76% say they would be willing to stop doing business with your brand after just a single bad customer experience.
And, in the recent consumer study, “Humanizing Digital 2020”, SMARTASSISTANT found that 71% switched to a competitor because they made finding and choosing the right product easier.
Most companies already have some level of awareness that they need to begin seeing the customer journey as a holistic concept and shift away from traditional, campaign-driven marketing to people-driven engagement.
The Aberdeen Group published an insightful research paper about the business value of optimizing customer journeys. The research showed that companies that optimize their customer journeys outperform those that don’t across a significant number of metrics.
There’s little doubt that optimizing your customer journeys makes sense for your brand and your bottom line, but it’s easier said than done.
Let’s look at the 3 pivotal questions to review as you optimize the customer journey.
1. Are you using analytics & segmentation to organize customers and visitors into meaningful and actionable groups?
In the digital space, everyone who visits your online platforms generates thousands if not millions of data points that can provide clarity into customer behavior and preferences. It can be predictive of customer value, needs, expected behavior, and the most effective sales channel.
However, capturing and trying to map out the customer journey by integrating all these data points can feel overwhelming, even impossible. Not only is the journey complex, but different buyers take different paths and interact differently through different channels.
Having the right segmentation strategy can help you organize the chaos, but this can’t be taken lightly and will take time to develop. Most organizations struggle with too many forms of segmentation and have no clear actionable strategy. The buyer personas, customer profiles, and segments are often too confusing or too shallow and broad.
But if used correctly, segmentation makes mapping the customer journey much less complex and can actually make you money. It helps you learn about your customers, discover what they need, how you should engage with them and how to sell to them, while attracting new ones.
Here’s how you can go about it:
- Ensure that you capture and store relevant data that is generated by your online and offline sources to identify who your customers are and how they behave. This isn’t the most fun part, but it’s absolutely essential for everything else you will do.
- Analyze the data to identify customer segments and build personas that focus on motivations as one key dimension. While the first step will tell you who your customers are (Demographics), this step will tell you why they behave the way they do (Psychographics)
- Create customer journey maps (plural!) for each persona, defining the common and desired customer journeys. You can use sticky notes, a whiteboard or any other tool (i.e. SuiteCX) to sketch out your customer journey maps. They typically look like flowcharts and describe how customers find you (through which channels?), how they navigate and which actions they take at different stages from awareness to post-purchase.
- Next, the fun starts. Build experiences around the customer journey maps you’ve created, optimize messages, and map out interactions
- Review and refine. Evaluate the customer journey to see if there are any flaws, barriers or week points to resolve.
Using analytics and segmentation to build a customer journey map for each persona will help you to answer 4 questions necessary for optimizing the digital customer journey and providing an amazing experience:
- Who (target audience)
- What (offer, product, message, content, script)
- When (contact cadence)
- Where (media and channel)
A well-defined segmentation will not only help you push the right communication but also understand how to best respond to pull-based interactions:
- a customer lands on your site—what content should you render?
- a customer contacts you via on-site chat—how should the conversation look like?
2. Do you prevent customer detours through proactive digital engagement?
We’ve already established that digital channels play a significant role in the purchasing decisions of today’s consumers.
Not engaging with potential customers at the right moment or in the right way can be a huge conversion blocker and mean a massive loss in revenue.
A buyer who is ready to engage with your company will often do so through a digital channel and expect a real-time response. Failing to engage when your customers need support and assistance can quickly terminate their journey with you or, worse, lead them to an alluring detour to competitors.
To provide you with some inspiration, you can download the following case studies. They describe how leading brands integrated AI-driven, conversational digital sales assistants in the customer journey.
The results: increased customer satisfaction, more sales, and more qualified leads by supporting a prospect’s decision-making process proactively.
3. And finally, are you attacking the mid-funnel?
Companies usually focus their lead generation programs and tactics on the top and bottom of the funnel. And this can be a problem. Because, the glaring question is then:
Who focuses on the middle of the funnel?
Not attacking the middle of the funnel, where the majority of prospects disappear, is the biggest hindrance preventing companies from realizing the full revenue potential from their marketing and sales strategies.
The reality of the digital customer journey is that after the initial engagement, most customers are not immediately ready to purchase. They continue to conduct research, validate products with friends or colleagues, and evaluate cost and need. This process could take days, weeks or months.
You’ll want to be their trusted advisor who guides them on their journey. Contrary to popular belief, many companies don’t necessarily need to generate more leads.
They need to focus more on nurturing and engaging prospects with relevant content as they educate themselves and evaluate their options.
Instead of dumping them into a “black hole”, nurture and engage them in the middle of your funnel with processes and strategies such as:
- Needs-based assistance and support
- Personalized emails with timely and relevant product offers
- Retargeting on relevant channels
- Value-driven ads on social media
- Helpful content on your site
- Online communities
Today, the customer journey and experience you deliver are your most important differentiators. Prioritized, they offer a tremendous opportunity to make your marketing and sales processes more effective and grow sales.
Adapted from Market Bridge