The Key to Engagement Throughout the Customer Journey


The Power of the Journey

A customer journey is really two things for marketers:

  1. A plan to engage customers along a marketing pathway
  2. A picture of what activities the target audience does and when they do them

Sounds simple, right? But it’s fueled by a lot of variables working in harmony.

The Importance of Alignment

Elements like technology platforms, qualitative insights, quantitative measurements and strategic design thinking not only have to be pointed in the same direction – they have to be operating at the right velocity. This becomes the difference between a scattershot marketing approach that’s impossible to measure versus a well-organized strategy that engages an audience on its own terms.

So how can you create this tight, strategic coordination? You need a closely aligned relationship between human-centered thinking and technology that can easily adapt on the fly, like Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Whether selecting high-level strategic engagement channels (e.g., digital marketing, social, email) or low-level logic parameters (e.g., how long to wait before sending an email), it’s critical to keep your audience in mind.

2 Key Questions for Leveraging Automation

When developing a customer journey that leverages an automation platform such as Marketing Cloud, keep two basic questions in mind:

  1. How should you stack marketing channels to maximize engagement? Journeys involve tracking activity against a defined pathway and engaging people along the way. Obviously, that means understanding the proper channel to employ at the proper moment. But what channel should be the starting point? Where do you want your customers to go? What do you want them to do when they get there? Determining the right channel to initiate engagement, where to follow up, and when to encourage conversions is an important and often delicate dance. Theoretically, there’s nothing new in this idea. It’s common sense. Yet how often do we find marketing experiences that direct people to a website and then give no clear path forward from there? Collect an email address through a web form, but only ever follow up one time? Or don’t tie a digital marketing campaign with a social media strategy? This lack of alignment is the norm rather than the exception. But with a plan that you think your way through, that doesn’t need to be the case.
  2. How does your target market use different channels? Now let’s say you have a plan. Once a prospect has shared their email address, what happens next? When do you send them an email? Right away or wait a day? If they don’t respond to the email, when do you follow up? How do you appear personalized and interested without badgering them? Understanding how your audience will use different channels spurs the specific tactics and execution of your plan – and creates the full picture of your customer journey. Back to Marketing Cloud as an example, the Journey Builder feature allows you to formalize a series of rules that guide channel-specific tactics. You can determine how long after the lead is captured to wait before engaging in a specific channel, as well as define the logic to keep engagement going, depending on the action taken (or not). The journey should, ideally, be able to support multiple paths based on your audience’s interactions. Do they open an email but not click on a call-to-action? Did they follow the call-to-action, but not fill out a form? Can you simultaneously engage them over a social channel as a reminder? Or does social serve in support once the prospect becomes a captured lead?

It Takes Both Sides of the Coin

Remember, tools like Journey Builder can automate these decisions, saving time and expense. But the logic that marketers use has to be more than a guess, too.

Aligning your tactical decisions with a strategic understanding of your audience’s behavior is the key to increasing engagement – and increasing conversions.

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