4 Steps to Creating a 360-Degree View of the Customer Journey

To deliver on this manifesto, every analyst should understand event-stream data and how to organize its insights into translatable information that can inform your customer journey. Outputs such as Sankey diagrams and association maps can help to visualize the flow of consumer actions from one step in the journey to the next. When key findings are discovered such as a breakage in the natural journey flow or high bounce rates on high traffic pages of your site, these should not just be included as opportunities within the journey build, but immediate fixes to improve the customer experience. To analyze a customer’s journey, we need to collect data on every interaction across all channels. Event streams that integrate touch points from all channels can be powerful tools to spot bottlenecks in the customer journey and help alleviate them. These insights can be fed into platforms such as DMPs that drive the inclusion, the exclusion, or the alteration of the contact strategy of a customer segment, based on the insights.

3. Neuroanalytics

The greatest minds in advertising understand that the best way to influence a decision is to understand how and why a decision is made. In consumers’ actual journeys, they no longer expect brands to speak to them; they expect to have a conversation, a relevant conversation, with them. It’s as if they are communicating this: “Understanding my behaviors is certainly critical, but talking to me about what I’ve communicated through behaviors is more important.” The process of neuroanalytics lets you tap into your customers’ subconscious motivations, so you can understand how they make decisions, identify what matters to them, and create the most impactful customer relationships.

Simon Sineck succinctly speaks to uncovering the why before speaking to the how. In a simple example, using Apple, he says, “If Apple were like everyone else, a marketing message from the brand might sound like this: ‘We make great computers. They’re beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. Want to buy one?’ Or rather when we flip to the ‘why,’ the message may sound like ‘In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?’” Which message do you believe your date would be interested in having? The one that inspires that person and speaks to what he or she cares about.

This can be uncovered through one of the better resources available to us—our current and prospective customers. Who better to tell us how they make decisions? We’ve found three modes of engagement with the consumer effective in collecting this information:

  1. Qualitative laddering interviews
  2. Intercept surveys (primarily for retail)
  3. Online surveys to uncover the decision-making process while validating it with larger sample sets of data and analytics 

You can use this information to not only inform the conversation but, while you’re listening to the customer, gather additional information about their journey phases and expectations of the brand to further inform the structural portion of the journey.

4. Industry Experts

If you think about building the customer journey as a bucket of water with holes, you can patch most of those holes with discovery, behavioral analytics, and neuroanalytics. However, inevitably there will still be a few holes remaining that you’ll need to patch. This is where it becomes critical to use the experience of subject matter experts both internal and external to your organization. I’ve found that the insights both inside and outside of an industry can be informative and inspiring. Lean on the industries that are ahead of the curve to envision the future state of your industry.

We’ll leave you with this: The first marketing and sales funnel was developed in 1898. We must move to a modern way of thinking to prepare for and hold conversations with our consumers while working with them on the path to purchase that is best for them. We must bring our customer journey and experience approach into the modern age. Are you ready?

Sunil Rao is vice president of audience analytics and DMP practice at Merkle. Rao brings over 12 years of experience in digital analytics, CRM, and marketing measurement. Previously he was involved in building Merkle’s methodology for digital audience sizing and opportunity assessment as well as leading analytics engagements with a variety of clients across verticals such as DirecTV, Universal Orlando and Travelers Insurance. Ethan Hanson is associate director of advanced methods and research at Merkle. Hanson has more than 10 years of experience as a marketing professional with focuses in research, analytics and strategy across CPG, energy, entertainment, health sciences, financial services, and high-tech. Prior to joining Merkle, Hanson helped to build the first CRM database for a Global 500 energy company and drive successful competitive strategy campaigns in telecom.

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