The customer journey has grown more complex over recent years as consumers head online to do their shopping. Optimizing the customer journey is now more critical than ever to building brand loyalty, increasing sales and ultimately setting your business up for long-term success.
Moreover, technology is enabling people to explore thousands of products and services whenever and wherever they shop — giving them precise control during their purchase journey and creating higher expectations for brands.
Brands need to connect with people at just the right time and place to turn them into buyers. Brands and merchants can optimize customer journeys in three ways: be there, be useful and be quick.
“Being there” in today's marketplace is about being omnipresent. If your brand is not there to help, another brand will be.
Understanding where "there" really is requires an omnichannel marketing strategy. As customers move from one commerce space to another (such as Amazon, your website or a physical store) brands need to measure and understand engagement at every touchpoint in a customer's journey. That means aligning marketing with business outcomes and understanding the intent, interactions and signals driving long-term growth.
Omnichannel marketing starts with having a clear understanding of customer pain points, then developing strategies to reduce friction. Customer journey mapping provides a marketing roadmap that helps funnel customers in the right direction — long before making a purchase.
Brands and merchants who understand the pre-sale process can focus on testing and developing an integrated content and creative strategy. This initiative should cover every aspect of the campaign — from production and management to reporting and analytics. It is critical that brands adopt an end-to-end ecommerce solution to get a unified view of customer data points at every touchpoint.
Campaign reporting and measurement are essential for analyzing ROI and further refining a brand's customer journey strategy. Tracking and understanding key metrics — such as unique site visits, cart abandonment rates and average order value — are essential for campaign optimization. Ultimately, acting on these findings creates customer experiences that drive results.
People respond to brands that understand their needs and businesses must bring value to an individual at the right moment. This requires the ability to implement an insights-led marketing strategy that delivers personalized messaging tailored to consumers and where they are in the purchase cycle. Brands must tailor messages to specific audience segments — both to show they understand shopper needs and to establish lifetime value for the brand.
It is all possible with the right tools. For example, our email automation partner Sendlane is a personalization pro. Sendlane takes data from transactional emails, like order and tracking confirmations, to determine when email receivers are habitually opening messages. This is useful for turning one-time customers into lifelong brand champions. There are other ways to reel in prospective customers with personalization, such as tailoring messaging to specific audiences for social media campaigns or using website chatbots with personalized messages based on the products a consumer is considering.
Speed matters when delivering customer experiences that translate into sales. In fact, a recent survey from telecommunications company Mitel and Sapio Research asked, “What makes a great customer experience?" 45% of respondents answered, “responsiveness and fast service.” The same survey found 55% of respondents said, “friendly, helpful and knowledgeable customer service representatives” make a great customer service experience.
To succeed, brands must deliver experiences that are fast and frictionless. Advancements in artificial intelligence can deliver the speed, knowledge and assistance modern-day customers expect. Understanding and predicting customer intent fast enough to impact a sale requires automation and data processing at scale.
For example, use AI technology to better detect transaction fraud, so merchants can avoid causing friction for legitimate customers during online checkout. Allow customers to quickly make online purchases without creating a profile, but require an email to automatically send enticing offers based on purchases in the future. And once a consumer becomes a customer, look for opportunities to seamlessly extend customer lifetime value, such as offering subscriptions.
Brands today need to be holistic and present everywhere their target customers exist. That means using the tools that enable them to test campaigns, offer personalization and automation and analyze customer data — all to create a frictionless experience from the time buyers start thinking about a purchase until they pull the trigger.