Gretchen Scheiman: Know Your Customer Journey
In the middle of rushing to send the latest announcement, update, sale email or whatever, it can be easy to forget the “who” and the “why”. But to maximize results, marketers need to know their audience well enough to know who they are sending to, and why that message will be important to that person. Do this by creating a customer journey for each segment of your audience.
What is a customer journey?
It is pretty much what it sounds like: a representative picture of how your customer interacts with your brand or offering, through the purchase funnel and/or during usage and loyalty. A customer journey paints a picture of who your customers are and how they interact with you and your offerings. Instead of guessing at generalizations, you can have a picture that is well-researched and supported across your organization.
Is it a customer journey for my brand or products?
The customer journey is for specific customer types or audience segments. Some segments will purchase across the brand, some will focus on specific categories. The focus is on the customer first. Take Craftsman as an example: they might have segments for Pros and DIYers. The Pros are likely to shop in some categories, DIYers in others. Of course, there may be overlap. But the journey is specific to the customer segment.
How do I make a customer journey?
It can be tempting – especially with a new audience – to make guesses. But a customer journey can and should be a rigorous document that is based on data and research. Customer journeys always start with the brand’s goals. It’s also important to incorporate research such as customer interviews, support complaint logs, social media listening, web analytics, and of course competitive intelligence. If it is your first time making a customer journey, it’s best to work with an outside expert to make this happen.
How do I use the customer journey?
A customer journey will help you see when customers may be more receptive to messages, and what messages they may need. Think about your local spa as an example: they may have segments for Clinician Loyalists, Events-Only Visitors, and others. By understanding the different segments, the spa can target messages that speak to each customer’s needs throughout their lifecycle.
In this example, messages to Events-Only Visitors will follow a cadence that adheres to holidays. The spa can direct clinicians to ask about anniversaries and other special days and add those to the customer database so that the marketing team can trigger emails to the customer in advance to book appointments. The focus of many messages may be on bringing in guests to share the experience, and following up to ask about the event in addition to the service.
The journey in this case revolves around events, so the marketing does too. Understanding the journey and mapping out what customers need will help the spa drive incremental sales and migrate customers from low to high value over time.
The best part about knowing your customers’ journeys is that you have a well-researched framework to base your recommendations on. When you say, “we need to create new triggered emails for x, y, and z,” you can point to the customer journey as rationale for your recommendation. That will go a long way towards getting approvals and budget dollars for your new communications. Conversely, when you are asked to focus on something that doesn’t make sense, you can ask, “how does this fit within the customer journey?” The answer may give you the ammunition you need to (de)prioritize the request.