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How to Deliver Engaging Audience Experiences Through Customer Journey Development

By March 6, 2018 No Comments
Nothing is more crucial to your business than your customer. You want them to be happy, and you want them to come back for more. You want them to tell all their friends about your business.

To achieve these things, though, you need to give them a positive customer experience. You’ve got to be proactive about it too. The best way to do that is through customer journey mapping.

A customer journey outlines the end-to-end personalized experience from prospect to loyal customer. Companies can use this strategy to better understand what drives their audiences, their most effective touchpoints, and how to keep them coming back for more.

Marketing and sales professionals glean significant value from these outlines and visualizations. By better understanding what customers want and how they respond to various experiences, they can better promote their services and products with effective timing and engaging messages.

Benefits of Customer Journey Development

A cohesive and comprehensive customer journey map empowers companies to address individuals, like, well, individuals. As a result, they feel unique, as if your brand is perfect for them. They buy more and they buy often. We often hear from marketers that their personalized strategies serve as a competitive advantage.

In a world in which customers are no longer predictable, an outlined customer journey also gives companies more control over their sales numbers. They can steer their audiences in the right direction with personalized messaging.

A strategic customer journey can even introduce new products or services. By carefully timing these messages and responding to their evolving needs, you can expand customers’ worth through their investment in your brand.

Aspects of a Successful Customer Journey

A strategic customer journey serves the specific, niche needs of a group of customers and serves parallel messaging across all channels on which they interact with your brand. These messages and tactics inspire loyalty within your audiences and drive them to purchase consistently and purchase more over time.

A successful strategy takes much more planning, time, and resources than a standard campaign plan. It also encompasses much more than one campaign. In fact, each customer journey should likely include variations campaigns to meet the audience’s specific needs.

Take care to outline all communication with the specific group of customers. Depending on their needs, your customer journey outline may look simple and straightforward. Others may be weaving and complex. It will all depend on your customers, their channel preferences, and their communication styles.

How to Build an Effective Customer Journey

1. Research Target Personas

Start by analyzing won and lost opportunities as potential targets. If you track reasons for your wins and losses reasons, you have even more insight into what your prospects want and need.

Using these lists, highlight differences between those who converted and those who didn’t. Where did your marketing shine, and why did it work? What messaging and channel strategies fell flat? These insights will help you better understand where your prospect journey should begin.

Then, start focusing on your existing customers, particularly in relation to repeat purchases or renewal opportunities. What are you doing to drive brand loyalty with your customers? What messaging and channels come into play? Where have you failed to capitalize on opportunities in the past?

Don’t forget to tap your customer service teams for insights. They have a deeper perspective into where customers struggle and what they seek most often. These team members also know what messaging styles and channels appeal to some customers versus others.

Pay careful attention to indications of what each audience truly wants and highlight their pain points along the way. Note how their first touchpoint with your brand and how they reacted, as well as how their feelings toward your company have changed along the way.

At this point, you should have concrete examples of content and channels your prospects and customers prefer.

Ensure You Always Have Clean, Reliable, Insightful Data

My team and I work with data all day long with our clients, and we constantly find ourselves wrangling with erroneous, tangled data in an effort to establish streamlined and efficient best practices. In order to pull strategic insights from your data, you’ve got to gather, store, and track it correctly. Ensure your data goes into your systems clean and stays clean. Keep it in one format and in one place, if possible, to empower multiple teams to access and learn from it.

2. Collect and Fine-Tune Critical Components

A customer journey is only as strong as its weakest link. Make sure you have the following components gathered and prepared before starting to build out yours.

Personalized Messaging

I cannot stress the importance of personalized content enough. By speaking directly to a small subset of your customers at a time, you can directly cater to their exact needs.

Determining personalization methods isn’t as difficult as it sounds, as you’ve already started the legwork in the analysis step we discussed above. You know what messages resonate with specific audiences and which channels they prefer for branded interactions.

You can even serve real-time information automatically by leveraging data from your customer databases. To make things easier, I suggest automating the analysis of your customer data and using the unique information to personalize your email campaigns. You can use automation builder to handle regular data imports and schedule these messaging activities after customer actions. These emails can reference recent purchases, subscription details, and more details specific to the exact recipient.

Customize Tone and Language

I recommend driving customer journeys with emotional messaging. Each content vehicle should pursue of a specific emotion and consequent action. Check out this great guide from Neil Patel to learn more.

Automate the Journey with Triggers

The best way to do this is to drive strategy between different teams on each channel with a campaign manager to oversee everything. I’ve even come across Customer Journey Managers that run everything and coordinate efforts between teams.

How to Build and Manage Customer Journeys in Salesforce

To coordinate all messages and channels, of course, you need a tool that allows for visibility and connection across all channels. A good tool shows not just the prospect or customer moving through their journey but also how they react to specific checkpoints.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder allows you a drag and drop interface to map out a customer’s path across lifecycle stages and shifts between channels. This simplifies your decision-making process by automating content delivery based on account attributes indicating the location within their journey.

Using this technology, you can use decision nodes to leverage activity options on yes/no paths. These decision opportunities include sending emails and SMS text messages, creating or updating a record in Salesforce, scheduling a follow-up task for a sales rep, updating the point value on the target record, and more.

Marketing Cloud also integrates with Sales Cloud, providing visibility for your sales team and allowing you to learn more about their behaviors to further enhance the customer journey.

You also have better visibility by channel.

Email Marketing

Results of email activity appear on the contact record in near real-time. You can use workflow rules to ensure your sales team takes action on your most promising prospects, encouraging them to move to the next step in the funnel.

Account management teams and/or customer service can also follow up with existing customers based on their responses and interactions with email marketing. In Marketing Cloud, you can pull customer data from Salesforce and insert it into data extensions which can then be used for segmenting your audience and personalizing email content.

Automation builder can handle regular data imports and schedule these messaging activities after customer actions, such as recent purchases, subscription details, and more. This strategy leverages details specific to the exact recipient and delivers highly-personalized one-to-one messaging.

Email activity reports across your customer and prospect base can help unlock more insights to influence the evolution of your customer journeys.

Beyond Salesforce

It’s important to note that while we describe how this is possible in Salesforce and Marketing Cloud, you have an array of options available. You can even integrate multiple systems to each handle a leg or channel of the journey. You can, in fact, bring in data from any system such as ERP to drive any conceivable customer journey!

Build Your Customer Journey

Your journey maps should look different from your competitors’; they should be unique to your brand, your customers, and your mission. I recommend building just one to start. Once you feel comfortable, you can start working on more for other target markets.

If you are looking for assistance in outlining your customer journey, setting up your triggers, or connecting your data systems through strategic integrations, my team and I may be of help. Contact us about your strategy goals, and we can explore if we’d be a good fit as a partner.

Amit Parker

Amit Parker

Amit is Practice Lead (Platform Strategy) and Senior Business Solution Architect at Soliant Consulting, Inc. working out of the San Francisco office. He is Salesforce certified as a Sales Cloud Consultant, Marketing Cloud Email Specialist, Pardot Specialist, Admin & Platform App Builder. He strongly believes in driving differentiated customer experiences for businesses big and small and that CRM has a key role to play in that. As a result, he loves solving problems in this space and is deeply passionate about the Salesforce platform. While helping businesses grapple with complex problems at the intersection of technology, product, and business is his day job, he loves to dabble with mobile apps, AI etc using - you guessed it - the Salesforce platform. In his personal life he is a practitioner of the performing arts as a vocalist and likes to dabble with mixology as well.

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