Performance marketing insights, discussions and expertise

Why the Customer Journey is the Marketer’s Secret Weapon

By on July 29, 2016

Child Waving GoodbyeWhen our loved ones depart for a journey it is common to send them off with the phrase “Have a nice trip!” We would never wish for turbulent flights or lost luggage. That would be foolish.

Likewise, as marketers, we want our customers to have a pleasant journey with our brand.

At Impact Radius, we view the customer journey as the entire lifecycle of a customer’s experience with your brand. This includes every encounter from the first moment of awareness, through the purchase decision and continuing on into post-sale support.

We believe that the modern marketer’s knowledge of the customer journey is critical to success. Our ability to understand this journey and leverage insights to go beyond last-click attribution strategies may very well be the best weapon at our disposal. Why?

1) Today’s Customers Create Their Own Journeys by Seeking Solutions Online

What is the first thing you do when you have a question? Do you call a friend or consult an encyclopedia? Not anymore. You type your question into a web browser. This is what your customers do too.

Google SearchYour customers engage the help of search engines to find solutions to their problems. Their goal (whether they are aware of it or not) is to find answers to their questions and identify resources they can trust.

As part of this quest, your customers seek input on social media. They read reviews and they compare prices and functionality. Sometimes all of this happens before they ever engage with your brand. As marketers, it is our job to meet them wherever they are in this journey.

2) Savvy Marketers Build Content to Support the Customer Journey

Marketers have recognized the shift in the way customers find them and are now balancing traditional marketing activities with an “inbound” approach. This means that in addition to ensuring that our brands are visible in the physical world (on store shelves, at live events and on television) we strive to make it easy for customers to find us as they seek solutions online.

Savvy marketers design “content marketing” strategies that provide customers with relevant information at every stage of their journey. We essentially sprinkle breadcrumbs along the path to purchase and beyond. We can complement these strategies and improve the visibility of our content by leveraging advertising opportunities with search engines, social media platforms and influencers.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, beautifully illustrated the goal of this type of marketing when she said:

“Does your content lead readers on a journey, or does it merely stuff them as leads into a pipeline?”

– Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs

The possibilities are endless and the tactics we use are constantly in flux, but the goal of our content is always the same. We must establish ourselves as trusted advisors throughout our customer’s journey, treating them as people, not leads. This builds confidence and makes them more likely to turn to us when they are ready to make a purchase.

3) A Data-Driven and Documented Strategy are Still the Secret Sauce

Although the way we acquire customers has changed, marketers are well equipped to adapt. Decisions based on data and a documented strategy have always been a key component of successful marketing. This has not changed and in today’s highly competitive environment data-driven initiatives are essential to success.

“Marketing without data, is like driving with your eyes closed.”

– Dan Zarrella, HubSpot

In fact, the 2016 Content Marketing Institute Report shows that while 38% of B2C Marketers consider their content marketing efforts successful, this metric improves significantly with the maturity of the marketers and the presence of a documented strategy.

2016 Content Marketing Institute

 

Forward thinking marketers now leverage advanced marketing technologies (like Impact Radius’ Media Manager Solution) to track every touchpoint along the customer journey. Here is an example of what that looks like:

Customer Journey Attribution Data

As you can see, this data goes well beyond the activity on your website. Advanced technologies show us everything our customers encounter during their journey to purchase. This knowledge allows us to identify what is and is not working and adjust our strategies – driving the creation of better content and informing advertising spend decisions.

Advanced technologies allow us to improve our customer’s journey. By identifying the media that resonates for our customers we can optimize it to ensure that we are providing them with everything they need to make informed decisions.

Conclusion:

Modern marketers have a lot to contend with and the quest to create a smooth journey for our customers is certainly a challenge. But, this is why being a marketing professional today is so exciting! Embrace our data-driven world and find tools that allow you to use it to your advantage. Test new initiatives, closely monitor the results and make the necessary adjustments.

Marketers must join their customers on their journeys. Our role is to be their trusted travel advisors, removing obstacles along the way and ensuring that they have a pleasant experience with our brand. The more we understand and anticipate their needs, the better we can map our initiatives to their journey and improve our chances for success.

For more information about how Impact Radius’ Media Manager product can help you attain your goals please view this webinar, titled “Are You Ready for Marketing Attribution?” In this webinar we explore the challenges imposed by big data and how marketing attribution technology can be used to harness that data and gain actionable insight into the customer journey.

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