Digital Marketing – Customer Journey
Due to such a widespread use of the web by a huge percentage of people worldwide, it is considerably harder for companies to control the flow of information about themselves to just what they would like individuals to see. On top of that, with the rapid increase of social media, people are talking about companies in a way that can be viewed by
millions either positively or negatively, and again with no control from the internal marketing department. Customers who have already been through a process with these companies are now telling others of their experiences, and therefore for many are having their perception of an organisation or brand affected before even experiencing it themselves.
In addition to this, from an internal perspective, companies are no longer so reliant on surveys or focus groups to know what customers may think. Almost any company can be found through social media with regards to what customers are saying to and about them, and more importantly in their own words. The trick is to make sure this is not ignored, and that this information is collated and used to make decisions and changes to benefit all. It also allows you to hear both sides of the story. What are your happy customers raving about and what are your disgruntled customers screaming about?
If as a company, you say that your products are great and easy to use, then it is seen as a sales pitch, but if a customer endorses you to another individual, or to hundreds through online networking or social media, then it holds ten times more clout with the individual hearing or reading it. Now whilst this shouldn’t be manipulated, it can be used and re-marketed. So this shows the benefits and negatives as to how the Internet has affected marketing both internally and externally, but it is a challenge. Marketing individuals therefore need to forget the old perspective of trying to control the message, but instead be focused on the benefits that it can bring to you.
Digital Marketing and Customer Insights
As always, what a marketing individual or marketing team needs to understand it the entire customer journey, from the point where the person or persons are completely unaware of the brand, to them becoming a user of the brand, and then finally to becoming loyal to that brand. What limits these individuals or teams is that they nearly always understand only one part of this journey, and so are not able to fully look at the big picture, let alone the experiences or emotions that were encountered throughout that journey. For example, a hi-fi retail marketer may know how a shopper became a customer, and even how they went from being a one-off customer, to a loyal purchaser, but they probably have no idea as to what brought them into the store to begin with.
Using digital marketing, it is now much simpler to see what is bringing individuals to a store and what created that initial purchase, and once they know that, it is much easier to work with the information as a basis to build from, and influence the journey of future potential customers. As a business we already have so many connections whether through adverts, websites, retail staff, service staff or emails, that if the journey of all of this is collated and analysed, you can better understand how these connections influence the overall journey, and what type of interactions and connections are best developed and used depending on where somebody lies on that journey. If you understand the journey, and show that you understand it, customers will appreciate you for it, and this in turn creates business and loyalty.
Measurements and Metrics
I’m sure every marketer using metrics that are most appropriate to what they are trying to achieve at that point, but again, it about also understanding and measuring what got them to that point. For example a new company may be measuring that initial brand awareness, or a more developed company may be tracking how their brand measures against their competitors including awareness, conversions and satisfaction. For a dominant brand, whilst everything mentioned is always important, it is also considerably important that they are measuring the extent to which they are solidifying their position, and these are just a few examples.
The important bit is finding the metric most suited to the key performance indicators of the business. If asked, most would say financial aspects such as overall profit and turnover. In addition they may be marketing aspects such as market share and brand awareness. Then there are other aspects such as customer loyalty, advocacy. If for example these were the six important factors, ask the MD what they were for last year. I bet they’ll know the financial ones, and some, even the marketing ones, but do they know their statistics and measurements for loyalty and advocacy, and if they can’t, how can they say they are important to their business. If they still maintain they are, then someone should really suggest that they measure and analyse them as thoroughly as they do their other key performance indicators.
What is also important though is that whatever these key indicators are, they are not all simply centralised around the past and present. They need to be an indicator of the future too. This is where we come back to the customer journey. Metrics based around the customer journey will help to indicate what is going to happen to the customer on the next step of that journey, and in turn what that means to the business.
Consumers are Moving Online
With a huge increase over the last few years of customers moving online, digital marketers are fighting for the percentage of that mind and wallet, and so the online attitudes and behaviours have to be monitored more closely than ever. However, as online attitudes and behaviours are changing, so are the behaviours of non-online methods, in that customers who maybe always used to dislike calling a company but had to, now in most cases do not need to.
Increasing Loyalty and Retention through Marketing
Where marketing personnel and teams increase loyalty and retention more than anyone else is through value. This is because they don’t have the benefit of creating an item, and so cannot create loyalty and retention through quality. However, they can add value to the customer through other benefits of dealing with the company, as well as making the customer journey as stress free and cost effective as possible. Even down to just making sure customers have the right information, answers and options as possible. However good a product is, customers will walk away if the information is hard to find or the buying process is at all difficult. They may even go and buy an inferior product should they deem the company easy to work with.
Future Marketing Media Trends
Marketing trends always change to keep up with the need of the customers, but if you can work to be one step ahead of them, and in turn provide what they’re going to need before many of them have even realised they need it, then a lot of the battle is already won. This isn’t to say that original marketing concepts such as print and television adverts will go away even if there has been declines in their effectiveness, but as TV’s became digital, and then many connected online, this created even more possibilities then could ever have been imagined not that long ago. We can already press a red button on an advert to get more information. How long until we just press a blue one an it’s on order?
Another trend definitely on the increase is mobile phone marketing and building relationships with their customers. Whilst these examples will not be appropriate to every business in every industry, it is for markets to access whether this fits into their logical customer journey. Be aware though, get it wrong, and you have just as much chance of harming the customer journey as enhancing it.
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