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Understanding the Customer Journey

Mapping a journey to a destination surely isn’t anything new. Developing a suitable pathway to getting somewhere else from here has been a basic function of the process of achieving a goal for generations. In the days of those folding Rand McNally maps and bulky road Atlases, the process was a bit complicated and often uncertain from the outset. With the advent of GPS technology, the act of determining the most desirable route between two points became increasingly more efficient and accurate. Travelers soon became familiar with that soothing and sometimes insistent automated electronic passenger dictating unprompted comments like, “turn left in 400 feet then keep right” and “recalculating!” If a traveler or observer wanted to evaluate the path of a previous journey, revisiting the data would often reveal the purpose of choosing a particular solution to achieving a successful trip.

For many travelers, however, staying on a particular predetermined course can often fall prey to personal curiosity, a heightened sense of adventure, or a turn in order to avoid a painful annoyance to the anticipated travel experience. The kindly voice inside the GPS app then becomes “there are alternative routes available.” Achieving a desirable GPS road trip experience is akin to today’s digital-savvy consumers’ journey from initial brand discovery to arriving at a conversion point.

As marketers, the ability to discover the digital route a targeted consumer travels in order to make an ultimate connection with a brand can be very advantageous to understanding the success or failure of a campaign and producing insights that can optimize future efforts. Studies have determined that 80 percent of customers now consider the experience with a company to be as important as its products, and 69 percent of consumers want to talk with a company in real time. Other research indicates that investing in and evaluating customer experiences pays off for businesses that monitor the customers’ digital journey. Businesses that prioritize the customer experience grow revenue 1.7 times faster than businesses that don’t. They also increase the customer lifetime value by more than twice on average compared to organizations that don’t.

A customer-centric marketing strategy requires a clear understanding of a customer’s digital journey from initial click through conversion. Mapping the journey can reveal important discoveries in a customer’s values and can be an important tool for gaining a deeper understanding of a customer’s wants, needs, and expectations.

Customer journey mapping provides significant benefits to email campaigns. By organizing and annualizing data from different sources, a marketer can connect more personally with niche audiences.

Researching all the important turns and deviations a potential customer takes to make a final connection with a brand can show when the consumer found the pathway enjoyable and when they were particularly annoyed or confused by the experience. What caused the customer to deviate from an anticipated and predicted path?  Data mapping requires the implementation of automated software in order to translate and coordinate various data harvests into one coherent language that can be moved to a single location for analysis.

Customers’ expectations of a brand and the route to achieving a positive journey experience can be very complex with many twists and turns along the way. With the average consumer now utilizing as many as ten different digital channels, every touchpoint along a journey is important for marketers to understand in order to create and deliver an exceptional customer experience.