How to get started with data-driven customer journeys

Customer journeys aren’t new. With the advent of “customer centricity”, “agile” and a bunch of other corporate buzzwords, customer journeys have been on the minds of marketers for a few years now. 

What is new however, is the hyper-acceleration of digital and data due to changes in customer behaviour. No longer are data-driven customer journeys a nice to have; they’ve become a must. 

The resounding message at the Marketing Association Smarter Data conference last week, was to “just get started”. But often that is easier said than done. 

So, what’s the process for developing a data-driven customer journey and how do you get started? 

At Qrious we have a development blueprint that we use when working with clients, which takes them through a process to build out their journeys and continually optimise them. 

 

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Phase 1: Capture 

In the capture phase it’s all about understanding what the customer needs and touchpoints are throughout their journey and then marrying these up to the channels, tools and data that support those touchpoints. Clients often find that even this first step in the process gives them much needed clarity on what’s happening, when and where. Simply being able to plot this all out develops a clearer picture and makes it easier to spot the gaps or areas that are ripe for optimisation. 

Phase 2: Analyse 

Once you’ve got this clearer picture, you’ll likely have stages in the customer journey that you want to dig deeper into or determine if customer preferences are changing. For instance, you may have noticed a continued increase in online shopping or click & collect over the last few months, so you’ll want to understand these changing behaviours in deeper detail. 

 

At the conference our very own Head of Data Powered Marketing, Lena Jenkins, said “We find that many businesses are still in the capture phase. They’re gathering lots of data and perhaps starting to stitch data together, but don’t have the right tools or capability to extract insights from their data and act on them.” 

 

Phase 3: Execute 

The execute phase is not a large one-step process, but instead a series of phases continuously delivered to build out your customer journey. As mentioned, from your capture and analyse phase there will likely be some obvious steps in the journey that are “no brainers” for optimising. Perhaps there’s a stage that could be improved by simply integrating some data? Maybe there’s a step that could easily be automated using your marketing automation platform? Or perhaps there’s a data gap that can be filled with some creative thinking. The key here is to pick one thing at a time to implement, automate or improve. Keep doing this for a few months and all of a sudden you’re on your way to a personalised, multi-channel, data-driven customer journey. 

 

Phase 4: Accelerate 

The final phase is where you get to really accelerate your journeys with all the fancy, fun stuff. An important point to note here is that you don’t want to get too distracted or excited about the shiny stuff before you’ve done at least some of the foundation work. But if you do get to this phase, then this is where the magic can really happen. Here you get to consider how you might start embedding advanced data and AI techniques to understand your customers better, personalise at scale, and possibly even create recommendation engines. This means the tech is helping you do the heavy lifting, automating real time insight and delivering stages of the customer journey. 

Continually optimise 

One of the keys to remember is that developing a data-driven customer journey is not a “set and forget” exercise. Customer behaviours will change over time, you may have access to more data, new digital channels may become available, and technology may become more widely available or cheaper. By regularly reviewing your customer journeys you can continually optimise them to create improved customer experiences. 

 

Work within your constraints 

Another key takeaway from the conference when it came to tools and data, was to work within your constraints. For many it might be that you’re using Excel or using a SaaS product that doesn’t have all the desired functionality. Once you can show an improvement and a return on investment, you’ll have a greater opportunity to invest in tools and develop more advanced techniques 

 

What’s the marketing focus in New Zealand’s Covid-19 recovery phase? 

To find out the focus of the audience at the Smarter Data conference we asked, “In the Covid-19 recovery phase, what data powered marketing will you be focusing on most? 

 

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The poll shows that for most organisations creating data-driven, automated marketing campaigns is still the main focus. What’s interesting is that this closely resembles the trends from the 2019 Mood of Marketing report. So it appears that despite all of the disruption of the last few months, automated campaigns and customer journeys remain key to marketing success. 

The next biggest areas of focus were centralising customer data and optimising digital channels. It’s very common among our marketing clients to have challenges around creating a 360 view of the customer and stitching together all of their customer data. This can be a challenging project, but again, developing a clear picture and starting small can often get you further than you think.

If you want to read more about some of the other speakers and key learnings from the Marketing Association Smarter Data conference, you can read an earlier blog here.

And if you’d like to speak with one of our Data Powered Marketing Consultants to develop your customer journeys, take advantage of marketing automation or discover what you can do in the data or AI space then get in touch. We’d love to have a chat.

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