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You’ve got the Customer Journey all Wrong

The customer journey is a valuable tool, but only if you’re using it right. The truth is, popular illustrations of what a typical customer journey looks like are totally inaccurate. They’re not linear, they don’t always progress forward, and you don’t often encounter a lead that discovers you at the first stage in their buying process.

In short, it’s all wrong.

But an accurate customer journey is a crucial tool for building an effective digital marketing strategy, so how should you approach it instead? Behavioural data from existing customers provides relevant insight into what real journeys look like. Gleaning common transition points from this data will allow you to base marketing decisions on winnable moments. Identifying these moments of truth and catering to them with your marketing efforts is the best way to map a customer journey.

What can this give you? More than a map. A business case and a blueprint to move forward in the business, that give clarity and confidence.

Learn about the Top 5 mistakes made with Customer Journey Design so you can start planning your marketing strategy the right way.

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How to Harness Analytics for Strategic Marketing Growth

Customer data shouldn’t be siloed any more than your marketing team should be. Modern marketing is encompassed by easily accessible, interconnected information which can be used to develop and improve strategic approaches. Unfortunately, not all digital marketing software is created equal, so it’s important to find a platform without siloed data that is able to leverage its network of information across all channels. By tapping into multiple viewpoints on each customer and segment, you can reveal strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that would otherwise be difficult to find.

IBM’s Journey Analytics is a tool designed to tap into those multiple viewpoints, with a simple user interface that makes identifying important trends quick and easy. With it, key customers (repeat buyers, high value purchasers, etc.) can be examined for commonalities amongst the channels and content they interacted with. This is exactly the type of capability you need to be able to utilise the analytics of customers and marketing efforts regularly and efficiently.

With a multichannel vantage point on your customers, you can identify crucially important things like where to invest for the highest revenue impact or what type of customer journey is typical for an underperforming segment. Through examining noteworthy customer profiles, better user experiences can be developed. Content gaps can be addressed through examining what is working and what isn’t. Highly effective messaging can be identified while poor performing content can get remedied as each point of interaction gets attributed to specific sales. You can then use these insights to craft a marketing plan that is tailored to your organisations current situation. Thus, you can prepare for a stronger future position. Eventually, marketing efforts can be modified so they help shorten the buying cycle with carefully optimised timing and hyper relevant content.

Interested in learning more about customer journey analytics? Check out our article about 3 ways to ensure your customer journey design matches your customer journey reality.

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Why Real-time Data is so Crucial

The automated nature of modern marketing software makes scalable personalisation (and, by extension, relevance) an achievable milestone. Data is the driver of that capability, which means the software is only as powerful as the information that feeds it. In this world of the ‘always on’ customer, timing is everything. Reaching people at pivotal points in their buying process is the key to influencing their purchase decision. The buying process is getting progressively shorter, so organisations need to prioritise more immediate forms of data access if they expect to meet these timing standards.

The buying cycle is full of moments of truth— decision points you can’t afford to miss. Imagine if you could reach someone at exactly the right moment in such a personalised way that you could influence a decision in your favour. That is the ultimate goal.

Hindering this is the unfortunate truth that most data is not real-time. There is a notable, serious delay between the real-time gathering of data by your marketing software and a marketer’s ability to use that data. The delay is caused by the need for complicated IT data pulls with specific information that characterises exactly those individuals you want to reach. Each additional data point (which, ironically, are the keys to relevance) will cost you time. This delay renders the real-time nature of your valuable marketing software useless, and it does so at the expense of your marketing effectiveness.

To combat this, it’s important that marketers aim to gather real-time data and this starts with the software being used. There are 3 main ways to get data: the first involves an IT data pull. This is essentially a custom query that seeks out all the information you request, but it’s the slowest method available and the more detailed your query, the longer this will take. The second method is misleading in that it is often touted as a real-time solution, even though it isn’t one, but it is quicker. This involves custom development of an information bridge from whatever software tools you’re using to you. There are several problems with this method beyond the fact that it still isn’t obtaining real-time data; these include the expense for custom development or a premade solution integration, and how quickly it can become obsolete as software updates and new technologies arise. Lastly, there is the only true real-time solution: IBM’s Universal Behaviour Exchange. This is essentially an underlying software structure connecting all the Marketing Cloud tools together, allowing for seamless and immediate shared data amongst everything.

Access to true real-time data is a key differentiator for modern marketers. The quicker you can access your data the more relevant your messaging and automated triggers can be, because data is the driver of everything your marketing software is capable of.

Ready to explore other challenges related to database access? Learn about when real-time data is not real-time (and how this is killing your revenue).

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Why Integrated Systems are Key to Strategic Marketing Growth

If you want to grow you need to put together a strategy, and integrated systems should be the underlying network you build that strategy with. Without integrated systems, even evaluating your current performance is difficult and inaccurate.

To start with, you’ll want to have some baseline knowledge about your weaknesses and strengths, where changes will have the most impact on revenue, and what marketing aspects will be the least expensive to adjust. This will help you develop and prioritise a growth strategy based on realistic and attainable goals. It will also help you recognise what’s performing well and doesn’t need to be changed.

To get a baseline assessment, you need to be able to view and compare data across multiple systems. It takes extra time to gather your analytics within several different programs and if those systems aren’t connected, how can you directly compare your results in each? By integrating all your tools together, you can share and access valuable data from different areas and you know that your knowledge of every customer is translating from each origin point into one central profile of their actions, which enables more relevant messaging on an individual level.

Integrated systems mirror collaborative teams. Most teams are formed of employees with different skillsets and unique strengths. Integrated systems create a similar sort of team out of your software. By connecting different tools together, you can harness the strengths of each without compromising their performance or complicating the original interface.

Want to learn more? Learn about 3 ways marketing measurements can be misleading here.

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Honestly Evaluating your Lead Management Program

You’re practicing an inbound approach and you’re seeing an increase in lead flow, bravo! Now it’s time to take an honest look at your lead management strategy and recognise where it could be improved.

Most lead management programs that miss the mark do so because they aren’t focused enough on the customers themselves. It’s easy to think a lead management program is about making it easier for your organisation to handle a large number of prospects in a scalable way, but reversing that viewpoint is essential. Instead, focus first on the efficiencies you can create for your leads because that is where your lead flow comes from. Setup automated actions with highly personalised, behaviour-based triggers so you know each lead is interacting with your content in the most relevant way for their interests. Build segments that separate different categories of customers automatically to ensure the best messaging is being used for each target market.

Only after you’ve focused on these types of processes should you turn to the needs of your internal marketing and sales teams; from there you can create systems like lead scoring, alerts and analytics reports. Your scoring will be based on the types of content consumed and their level of urgency inferred through online behaviour. Scoring each lead will help your sales team prioritise the strongest leads. Alerts can ramp up the level of urgency to immediate, and get a salesperson’s attention when it matters most. Analytics reports can be customised so they are run at the right frequency and include the statistics you care about most. Through automating each of these elements, you will ensure your team is equipped for the level of lead flow you’ve prepared for with your customer-driven lead management practices.

Why is this prioritisation so critical? Because you need consistent lead flow before you can truly understand how to best meet customer needs. They should be the driving force behind the direction your lead management program takes.

Want to learn more? Read about the top 4 reasons ways most lead management programs are a waste of money and effort.

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