Understanding the Customer Journey
Having access to high quality customer data and building an effective data management strategy that powers customer engagement with personalized experiences can make a huge impact on business outcomes. It’s not surprising that as more and more organizations turn toward data-driven decision-making, the customer intelligence market is booming. In fact, 62 percent of organizations are looking to adopt tools that allow them to aggregate all of their customer data in one convenient location.
For this, companies are increasingly turning to customer data platforms (CDPs). CDPs provide a centralized platform that collects, organizes, and analyzes customer data from multiple sources. A CDP makes it easier to analyze customer behavior and preferences, identify trends, and make informed decisions. For example, it can track what content a customer has viewed, how they interacted with a brand (and on which platforms), and if they are likely to make a purchase. And with the growing prevalence of the omnichannel approach, connected customer experiences are key to growing your customer base, maintaining customer loyalty, and increasing the bottom line.
One of the key tactics for creating a connected customer experience is understanding the customer journey. A customer journey is the path that an individual customer might take as they interact with your brand. Consequently, understanding the customer journey involves understanding your customers’ processes, needs, and perceptions. This understanding can only be gained by collecting behavioral, transactional, and identity data over time, and using it to build a complete picture of each individual customer. Within a CDP, this unified customer view lets you activate campaigns based on targeted, segmented, and personalized data to create more connected customer experiences across the entire customer journey.
12 Essential Customer Data Sources for Personalized Journeys
With effective customer journey orchestration, you’ll have smarter interactions with your customers at individual touchpoints along their journey–and your insights will be deeper. For example, you might be able to predict the right channel to engage with personalized messaging, or the right product or service to offer. You’ll be able to see which web visitors also come to a store, which blog browsers also buy online, and more. But the first step is consolidating these customer data streams to get a 360-degree view of your customers and their behavior. This information can then be used to enhance the connected customer experience.
In-store and Online Sales Data
For any business with a physical location, it’s absolutely crucial to unite your real-world data with your online records. Both in-store and online sales data needs to be connected to your CDP to get a comprehensive view of customer activity.
Sales data combines well with nearly every data type on this list to generate new insights and new opportunities for personalization. And the possibilities for targeted personalization are too good to pass up.
For example, you could use in-store purchase information to offer a personalized newsletter featuring related items in the online store, or vice versa. The customer gets more relevant offers, so is more likely to bring in repeat business.
Web Browsing Data
The end goal of content marketing is for our audience to make a purchase decision. We need to connect web browsing data to sales data to prove that link and justify our budget.
But great marketing is about more than proving your value. It’s also about ROI. Understanding how your audience experiences your content makes it easier to suggest more relevant next steps, offers, and experiences, including which solutions to offer and how to position them.
You probably survey your customers. Maybe you track Net Promoter Score (NPS), product and service satisfaction, and employee helpfulness in a store or over the phone. But where does that data go? Ideally, you’d have a record of each person, the surveys they’ve completed and their responses. Survey data, when added to the data in your CDP, gives you a more complete picture and could help you identify your next brand ambassadors as well as those customers who are about to churn.
Customer Service Data
Here’s where we leave the safe confines of marketing data and get into the organization at large. Odds are you’re continuing to nurture people after they’ve made a purchase. So, it’s crucial to know how they interact with the brand outside of marketing.
Imagine if your next email to a customer included details from their last customer service interaction. Even a simple, “we’re glad we could solve your X problem, here’s an article that can help you avoid it or fix it in the future” can make a difference in how your customer feels about the brand.
Sales Department Data
The Sales Department has several useful data streams for marketers. As we discussed in number 1, there’s sales data or the list of deals closed—incorporating that into your CDP can help trace the buyer journey and properly credit marketing’s role in generating revenue.
Then there are the potential prospects, which can help your department create personalized content. Finally, there are the deals that didn’t go through for one reason or another. Combine that information with the other data streams on the list and you can go in for a highly-coordinated second try.
Knowing who is looking at which ads, and which ads are the most effective, is valuable information in itself. Combined with web browsing and online and offline sales data, it’s indispensable. Connect your Google Ads, AdRoll, and other ad accounts to your CDP to make both your ads and your supporting content more effective.
This is another data set that’s useful on its own. But it becomes exponentially more so when combined with the rest of the customer dataset. You can get a much greater context for bounce rates, time-on-page, click paths, traffic sources and conversions with Google Analytics or Adobe connected to your CDP.
Marketing Automation Platforms
Your automation platform is already a repository for a great deal of data, but it can’t be fully comprehensive on its own. Connecting your HubSpot/Marketo/etc. platform to your CDP helps eliminate duplicate information, round out the view of the customer, and further personalize your nurture campaigns.
What motivates your loyalty-program customers and how can you use that data to attract more consumers like them? It could be special discounts, gifts, or exclusive events. It could also be interaction with your brand on social media or unique perks like early access to much-anticipated new releases. Loyalty programs can be a source of crucial data that allows you to target your audience in a more meaningful way.
Mobile App Data
With mobile commerce predicted to double its share of retail sales by 2025, connecting mobile data to your other data sources seems like an obvious choice. In fact, by knowing online browsing history, in-store purchase history and real-time store inventory, a retailer used personalized coupons and well-targeted in-app push notifications to boost coupon redemption by 100%.
It’s highly likely your business has data that never got connected to the larger landscape. There might be data hidden in siloed applications or outdated solutions. It might be lurking on servers, in personal hard drives, even on paper in filing cabinets.
This data can be essential for understanding your customer journey and how it evolves. It’s worth pulling that old data in. And, of course, if you’re still storing unconnected data, now’s the time to hook it up to your platform.
The Internet of Things
From smartwatches, to physical fitness monitors, to home security systems, to sensors, internet-connected devices collect and transmit massive amounts of data. This presents a vast opportunity for marketers–especially since IoT can be used via geofences and iBeacons to understand customer movement through physical locations. This data can be used to send push notifications or in-store offers to customers in real time.
Content That Compels Action
The data sources above are, of course, not the only types of data that can help give you a unified view of your customers to understand their journey. But these data sources will help you get to know your customers and create personalized, relevant content that compels action.
By understanding the customer journey, and using it to plan your marketing strategy, you can create more meaningful customer interactions and increase ROI. So if you’re looking to build a strong and enduring relationship with your customers, make understanding the customer journey a top priority.
Take the next step and learn more about creating great customer journeys in our Customer Journey Orchestration white paper.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this blog was published in 2019. This blog was revised on 3/21/23.