7 Takeaways for Measuring the Complex Customer Journey

May 9, 2019 Ginna Hall

Marketing has changed more since 2007 than in any previous decade. That’s because that year, Apple unveiled the product that millions of us now depend on for work and play: the iPhone. Smartphone, tablet and connected device adoption has skyrocketed, and the average American adult now owns four to six internet-enabled gadgets.

As a consequence, the customer journey has grown more complex. Understanding the influence of touchpoints across digital and traditional channels is a challenge that reaches across industries. Analyzing marketing effectiveness is arduous as marketers struggle to get accurate and actionable results.

“This shifting landscape offers real opportunities to those who are willing to adapt.”

To shed some light on the situation, we reached out to marketing experts for insights into how marketers can prepare for an increasingly complex customer journey.

Here are seven takeaways for the measurement strategies and tactics marketers need to be successful in 2019 and beyond.

  1. Upskill in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to scale lead generation.
  2. Deploy customer experience management (CXM) software to foster engagement.
  3. Invest in CRM or CDP software to unite and deduplicate contact records.
  4. Empower marketing teams to understand the data so they can drive the business more strategically.
  5. Lean into unifying marketing with data science and analytics.
  6. Ensure that diverse consumer touchpoints are consistent throughout the shopper journey.
  7. Prioritize the needs of shoppers rather than the needs of the brand.

Read on to get more advice from our interviews with these analytics leaders.

Rebecca BrooksRebecca Brooks, Founder and CEO, Alter Agents

“In our work as market researchers, we’ve noted what we describe as the rise of the promiscuous shopper. Traditional brand loyalty is in decline, driven by a growing array of options and availability of information at the fingertips of every consumer.

“Where we used to be able to describe a straightforward and fairly consistent shopper journey, shoppers now have a variety of paths to get to the same purchase, whether that runs through online reviews, social media recommendations, Google searches, or more traditional IRL pathways.

“This shifting landscape offers real opportunities to those who are willing to adapt. As consumers become more promiscuous in their shopping habits, convincing consumers to make the switch to a novel product has gotten easier. While the volume of messages can make it hard to cut through the clutter, those who are offering something new can find a receptive audience for their product. Whether from a wholly new brand or an innovative legacy brand, in many ways there’s never been a better time to launch a novel product.

“The second adaptation needed to survive in this landscape is to shift focus away from the brand and towards the consumer. On the marketing side, this means ensuring that diverse consumer touchpoints are consistent throughout the shopper journey, with relevant messaging that excites consumers.

“On the research side, this means starting from questions that prioritize the needs of shoppers rather than the needs of the brand. Uncovering the nuanced differences between consumers and their decision processes rather than treating them as a single monolithic group can be the difference between a successful brand and one that gets left behind.”

Yaniv MasjediYaniv Masjedi, CMO, Nextiva

“It's true that the customer journey is growing increasingly complex, and that trend is likely to continue into the 2020s and beyond. To keep up, the only viable option for any marketing team, regardless of size, is going to be upskilling in the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.

“Chatbots and other forms of AI can help your team keep up with and lead score inquiries from the same customer across different touch points. These tools are not meant to replace customer service representatives and marketing team members, but instead funnel leads to the appropriate contact.

“In addition to AI, your team must deploy software which fosters comprehensive customer experience management (CEM or CXM, depending on who you ask). The CRM of the old days is no longer going to suffice moving forward.

“Much has already been written on how having siloed teams hurts the bottom line. Future marketing teams need to collaborate with their sales and engineering colleagues. A unified CXM platform ties in customer and emotional analytics across mobile, location-based, and phone marketing.

“The marketer of the future needn't worry about job loss due to technology, they just need to continue studying to ensure they use it optimally.”

Sasha BartashnikSasha Bartashnik, Marketing Analytics Manager, Zulily

“At online retailer Zulily, my team of marketing analysts and data scientists recognize that a customer can interact with our brand through an Instagram Story, a marketing activation at a Sounders FC game or via a TV ad. It gets even more complex as mobile becomes more important in retail; at Zulily, 73% of orders came from a mobile device in 2018.

“Marketers must embrace the industry's future: the democratization of data. If more of your organization is empowered to look into the data and understand the business, we'll get there better and faster. To understand the data allows marketing teams to drive their own business more strategically and effectively which also frees up analytics and data science teams' time to focus on the long-term marketing strategy and customer insights, which are key to any organization's growth.

“It's often tempting to do more - send more emails, create more social ads, push more notifications, etc. More isn't more; in fact, volume can be a detractor; our focus is about efficiency and efficacy.

“In the fast-paced world of consumer retail where purchase decisions are made in seconds, if we invest in the upfront marketing and data infrastructure to optimize each touchpoint so that it is additive to the customer experience, we can inspire growth and loyalty.

“The best strategy is to continuously innovate and push teams to do more with less, lean into unifying marketing with data science and analytics, and to go all-in on building long-term customer relationships.”

Jon DickJon Dick, VP of Marketing, HubSpot

“Today’s buyers not only switch between devices, they hop between channels. HubSpot Research has found that customers want to engage with companies across 12 different mediums: website, videos, blog, gated content, Messenger, Twitter, live chat, phone, a contact us form, self-service, email, even Slack.

“Managing all these channels is a significant lift, but the answer is not to limit channels available to buyers. Instead, marketers should invest in a CRM or CDP software that can unite all these inputs and deduplicate contact records. If unification occurs correctly, then the most important data -- how well you monetize and retain customers -- is easy to measure.

“Multi-touch attribution is still the holy grail and is extremely difficult. Most models give helpful directional guidance, but perfection is nearly impossible. Start with the most important business outcomes you want to measure, and measure consistently over time -- even if those metrics can't give you a perfectly complete view, the consistency will at least allow you to identify patterns and trendlines.”

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