How to Nurture Your Customer Without a Map

March 22, 2019 Ginna Hall

How to Nurture Your Customer Without a Map

Have you heard the customer journey map is a thing of the past? A map—a diagram that shows how a customer advances through touchpoints on the path to purchase—is something every marketer dreams of building. Knowing where and how your customer will engage with your brand is key to marketing success.

But hello internet! Today’s connected consumers follow their own tangled trail, researching and interacting with brands on their own terms. They bob and weave across channels and take unpredictable routes to their destination.

Customer journey maps used to be amazing tools when the number of channels was three: print, radio and TV. But that’s an old-school linear, channel-centric approach to marketing.

Navigating the Digital Engagement Path

Today there are infinite possibilities for a customer’s path to purchase. It’s no longer possible to predict the exact order of a growing number of channels, even with thousands or tens of thousands of customer journey maps.

Every Customer Takes a Different Path
Every Customer Takes a Different Path

Trying to anticipate these modern, complex paths is a no-win effort and we know it. Research shows that most (55%) of senior marketers are not confident in their company’s “understanding of the customer journey.”

It’s easy to understand why. For example, here’s the route one consumer takes to buy a new bicycle:

Step 1: Use a search engine to identify and compare brands and models.

Step 2: Read online reviews to see customer satisfaction.

Step 3: Use online comparison tools to evaluate features.

Step 4: Watch customer or brand videos about different models.

Step 5: Use an online tool to build a virtual bike with personalized features and pricing.

Step 6: Find current offers and upcoming promotions on retail websites.

Step 7: See online ads from dozens of brands and retailers.

Step 8: Opt-into email, text, or direct mail offers.

Step 9: Visit a retailer to try out a bike.

Step 10: Talk with a sales rep to learn more about different bikes.

Step 11: Purchase a bike online or in the store.

Step 12: Buy add-ons at the point of purchase, such as a seat cover, lock, pump, or a warranty.

Step 13: Register the bike with the retailer or manufacturer.

Step 14: Tell friends and family about their new bike.

Engaging the Omni-Channel Consumer

Each of these steps is a separate touchpoint between brand and consumer. We know that for most products, consumers need more than a single touch to convert. We create nurture campaigns that engage prospects with information, news and offers over time until they’re ready to purchase. The number of touches and the time to conversion vary by industry, but marketers have one thing in common: they need to keep their brand top-of-mind.

But how can you engage customers at the right time with the right message if you don’t have a map?

You can’t control or predict where a consumer will next engage with your brand. It’s useless to try to force ads into their journey. Instead of trying to predict behavior, marketers would be wiser to spend their time, energy and resources optimizing their media as much as possible to deliver against their KPIs.

The answer lies in multi-touch attribution. Brands must be able to measure the importance of each touchpoint on the customer journey and learn which interactions are delivering results.

Only multi-touch attribution allows this kind of insight. By connecting data across online and offline, multi-touch assigns credit to tactical marketing activities and allows you to allocate (or re-allocate) spend against your best performing media.

This can’t happen if you’re using siloed tools for tracking and reporting. The tools most marketers use today were developed independently to suit the needs of a single channel. As new channels arose, so did specific solutions for each.

Data that’s housed in separate CRMs, email platforms, web analytics, marketing automation systems and the occasional Excel spreadsheet is data that doesn’t talk to each other. This severely limits how effective you can be when optimizing anything but a one-step journey.

4 Steps to Nurture Your Customers

An effective marketing measurement approach measures interactions across every channel and every device and reveals how those interactions can be optimized. Today’s cross-channel, multi-device world requires multi-touch attribution. Here are four steps you can take to nurture your customer without a map.

1. Integrate Your Channel Data

Integrate—don’t silo—your data to view and deduplicate audiences across channels and computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices.

2. Measure at Speed

Use a measurement solution that can refresh and remodel data as often as daily, so you can base your buying and optimization decisions on the most accurate and up-to-date metrics.

3. Use Granular Data

Track household- or user-level data to learn which tactics are driving response at a granular level—by creative, keyword, placement, and more—and which ads aren’t.

4. Close Data Gaps

Partner with vendors that have early access to new channels and data sources, so they can close critical coverage gaps and help you establish first-mover advantage.

Measurement for the Digital Era

Remember, your customers are in control of their journey with your brand, not you. Use multi-touch attribution to measure every touchpoint and optimize your media’s performance so that you can nurture your best customers without a map.

Learn More

Download our ebook to cut through the hype and learn the differences between key measurement approaches: Untangling Attribution’s Web of Confusion: A Primer for Marketers

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