Customer journey management
Customer journey management is the process of figuring out the best way to interact with customers at each stage of a customer's journey in order to continue moving them through the sales funnel.
Customer journey mapping allows companies to understand customer behavior to inform the customer experience.
Companies need a way to process and analyze data as part of a solid marketing platform overall to successfully manage customer journeys.
Customer journey management follows customers through all the stages of the customer journey and gives companies the insights they need to interact with high-value customers at the most important touchpoints
Chaewon Hwang is a product marketing manager on the Adobe Campaign team. Her focus is on launching new features and product lines. Before joining Adobe, Chaewon did consumer marketing at Shopkick, a mobile payment startup, and worked in corporate strategy for SK Planet.
Q: What is a customer journey?
A: The customer journey is the entire process of a customer’s interactions with the brand, from the first moment of contact until the customer leaves. It starts with the awareness phase, where the customer learns about the brand and starts engaging. The customer will then further investigate the brand and make purchases. The customer journey only ends if the customer stops engaging with the brand completely.
Q: What is customer journey management?
A: Companies need to create strategies to keep customers interested and coming back. Customer journey management is the process of determining what information customers need t in each phase of their journey to move them to the next step. For example, if a customer is investigating a brand, the company needs to know how to convince them to make a purchase. And after the customer makes a purchase, customer journey management includes steps to make that individual a repeat customer. Customer journey management involves defining what types of messages to deliver to the customers and when in order to engage them in each phase of the buying process.
One of the benefits of customer journey management is that companies can figure out which customers have the highest lifetime value and use marketing tools and practices to keep those customers engaged and moving through the conversion funnel. Success in customer journey management is defined by the level of engagement within the funnel itself or by the ability of the brand to move customers to the next phase of the conversion process.
Q: What are the stages of customer journey management?
A: It**** starts with data consolidation. Ideally, companies will have all the data gathered from the different touchpoints in one place so they can get a holistic view of their customers. Next, they would want to be able to segment customers into different customer journey “buckets” to identify which customers are in which phase. Then with their marketing platform, they would deliver messages through email, SMS, push, in-app messages, direct mail, call centers, and social media to reach their audience, depending on the customer’s preferences. To close the loop, the company would analyze which customers react to what types of messages in which phase of the journey, and whether their marketing campaigns were successful or not. To do that, they would need everything from the data piece to the analytics piece.
Q: What tools are needed for customer journey management?
A: Companies need tools for data management segmentation, marketing, and analytics. When it comes to deciding which tools and platforms to use, ideally a brand would use multiple solutions from one company to maintain consistency. For the data piece, there are customer data platforms (CDPs) that offer data consolidation and segmentation at the same time. Marketing platforms tend to be slightly more focused on the marketing piece itself. They do offer data consolidation, but it isn't as robust as the CDP itself. The analytics piece is generally similar to a CDP, but it gives more of an insight on which actions the brands can take next versus just doing segmentation.
In an ideal world, all the platforms and teams would work together seamlessly, but in reality, there are many different teams within bigger companies using different tools, which can cause disruptions in the process. For instance, Team A might not know what team B is using. So if team A t starts using Oracle, for example, but team B signs up for another mobile push service, like Braze, you get a disruption. The best-case scenario is for a company to use a single solution that offers everything from data consolidation to marketing to analytics, but in most cases, it doesn't really work that way.
Q: How do brands determine which tools to use?
A: They need to figure out which tools will work best with their company’s strategy. If it's a start-up, for example, they would generally use the cheapest tool that can help them bring the data together. They may even build their own platform to take a look at all of their customer activities. Then, from there, they would start doing basic segmentations. Once they have enough data to be able to define the customer journey and what that is, then they would start launching marketing campaigns to make sure they reach all the customers in a certain segment and encourage them to move to the next stage of the journey.
Q: How do companies get started with customer journey management?
A: Brands usually start with basic segmentation — simple things like customers who have purchased product A in the past 30 days. Then once they gather enough data to be able to understand which customers are in the awareness phase and which customers are in the purchase or retention phase, they are able to launch even more segmented marketing campaigns to target different customer brackets.
Q: What are customer journey management best practices?
A: It's important to have all the data in one place so companies can get a holistic view of the customers and define the phases that are important to the brand. So being able to pull all the data from the different touchpoints would be the first thing the brands need to do.
Brands should also pay attention to increasing the conversion rates between phases and even within the phase by doing A/B tests across the different marketing campaigns to figure out what messaging improves customer engagement.
Q: What mistakes do companies make?
A: A lot of companies still have problems with data silos. They have trouble bringing all their data to one place. And even if they do, they don't think in real-time, so it's difficult to capture real-time information at once across the multiple touchpoints. Even when companies do have all of their data in one place, it's still difficult to draw insights out. A lot of companies don't know what to do with the data so they end up doing basic segmentation, but beyond that, they don't know which customers typically fall under which phase. That makes it harder to understand the next steps to increase the conversion for each funnel.
To overcome these challenges, companies first need to start by implementing a data consolidation piece. For bigger companies, it's a heavier lift because they need to talk to the different teams who are using the different databases. So, it requires a lot of effort for companies who have their data scattered in different places. It requires talking across different teams and then selecting one tool that can actually bring all the data together.
Some companies don't feel the need to start using customer journey management tools — they might not know these things exist, they might not feel they're at that level yet, or they might not think these tools will help them do the things that they want to do. Companies might say, "Oh, I want to do targeted marketing. When customer A finishes action A, I want to recommend action B right after that." This is more easily done when the company has finished their customer journey management analysis. But sometimes they might not think it's a required action before launching their targeted marketing campaigns.
Q: How will customer journey management continue to improve?
A: Data processing is currently done in near real-time, but future advancements could allow it to happen in actual real-time, so it syncs right away instead of waiting 24 to 48 hours. Another layer will be artificial intelligence and machine learning. Most platforms aren't quite where they need to be with AI, and so the continued development of the technology will provide more actionable insights.