The customer journey is a simplification of imagined customer interaction with your company or brand over multiple touchpoints. Hypothetically the customer goes through various stages in the buying process: from awareness to engagement and purchase. The real customer journey is incredibly complex and involves psychology, marketing, social interaction, technology and other realms where your brand is publicised, mentioned or advocated.
The creation of a simplified model helps in creating a seamless experience by connecting touchpoints (or channels), contributing to the overall journey. Traditionally, the customer journey is either represented as a funnel – with the focus on selling – or as a map.
In its simplest and most well-known form the funnel consists of 4 stages: awareness, interest, decision and action. This assumes a rational customer behaviour starting with becoming aware of a product or service via advertising, word of mouth, media etc. One can only be become interested after being aware of something, which is the logical next phase. Assuming the customer is evaluating your service against the competition based on wants and needs and will finally decide. Lastly, the action phase is where the purchase takes place. This is a very useful way of representing customer behaviour and is well understood by everybody.
Over the last few years, an enormous amount of variation has been created – some with incredible detail. In this post, I want to use a customer journey map to show how it can be used to understand the best use of your digital marketing toolset, specifically the Adobe Experience Cloud.
I prefer to use a slightly different model, which continues after an initial purchase and includes retention and advocacy, thus creating a loop.
It is useful to understand which tools can be used at each stage of the journey and the best ways to use them. Mapping the tools across the journey, helps creating a unified and sensible experience based on the data that’s available. The amount and quality of the data increases during the journey as the user interacts at the different touchpoints: from session and contextual data (geo, browser, time of day, weather) at the start, to transactional and personally identifiable data after conversion. Understanding this shift in data, allows for different strategies at different stages.
At this stage, prospects are likely anonymous and have an initial encounter for the first time. For the marketer, the goal is to reach as many potential customers as possible. This is typically done through SEO, advertising and other inbound campaigns.
In this context, the tools to use need to be strong at anonymous interactions and have a strong reach. Experience Manager, Audience Manager and Advertising Cloud are a great combination to get potential customers to your website. A specific interesting feature is the look-a-like modelling in Audience Manager which allows you to find new audiences based on your favourite existing customers. It will get you the best chance in converting audiences into customers. With the help of the Advertising Cloud, all media buying and publishing can be streamlined and planned.
Besides awareness, a main goal is to drive more traffic to your website (built with Experience Manager of course!). From here we need to make sure we pick up the newly gained stream of visitors and provide them with the experience they expect (‘delight’). We are at the initial stages of a longer conversation and we already have some clues about what these visitors might be looking for. The data we have available is contextual, which means it is related to a current state or session. The current state could be the weather or the time of year and can determine the demand of seasonal products. Within the current session it can be understood where the visitor comes from (referrer), their location, browser type, whether they are on a mobile or PC, etc. Adobe Target uses this data to personalise, test or recommend content and thus optimise the experience for everyone. This is also the point where Analytics starts picking up journey behaviour and provides insight in journey drop offs, anomalies and KPIs.
The latest member in the Experience Cloud is Magento, greatly complementing the existing features and providing the engine for active conversion. With a bit of speculation, you can expect Target’s recommendations and Analytic’s tracking to work together and optimise the buying experience resulting in greater returns. This is also where the anonymous visitor turns into a customer and a proliferation of demographic and behavioural data to further drive the experience across the journey.
Now that the visitor has converted, we know a lot more about them: their address, age, preferences, product purchases, interests and so on. This is the data that is very useful to drive outbound communications, such as email, SMS or push notifications, for both transactional (receipts, reminders) and marketing. The tool to do this with is Adobe Campaign, which is able to execute on outbound channels. Triggers, segmentation and personalisation can be configured with the data collected. By using the Experience Cloud integrations (for example Event Triggers), data can be executed upon in near real-time and provide the customer with a seamless experience across all channels.
The components of the Adobe Marketing cloud all started off as standalone offerings and have been brought together into a complementing feature rich platform. Because of this history, there are overlapping features in each of the tools and it is sometimes difficult to choose which tool to use. A good example is the use of audiences and segments. This is a feature that is available in most of the tools and each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, the integrations and improvements in the Experience Cloud address these issues by providing the ability to share audiences (AA, AAM, AT and AC), forward events (AA->AAM) and share content (AT, AEM and AC). There is a continuous improvement of integrations and the Experience Cloud is ever easier to use. I am looking forward to start using the latest addition (Magento) and am excited about all of the new features that are drop fed into the cloud (Sensei).
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