Companies are Turning up the Heat on Journey Mapping with Data

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Data-driven customer journey mapping is emerging as a critical tool for engaging customers, as companies look to get the most out of every touch point and deliver more relevant experiences.

Data-driven customer journey mapping is emerging as a critical tool for engaging customers, as companies look to get the most out of every touch point and deliver more relevant experiences. The concept behind a customer journey map is simple. It's a diagram that illustrates the steps customers go through in engaging with a company. But companies are increasingly using data to be more strategic in mapping those experiences.In fact, it was impossible to miss the words "customer journey" at Salesforce's 2016 Connections conference in Atlanta, GA. Many of the discussions were shaped around the challenge of creating journeys that are personalized at scale.

"The future of marketing is the one-to-one customer journey," said Salesforce Marketing Cloud CEO Scott McCorkle in a keynote address. Automation, predictive analytics, and integrations across platforms are helping companies move towards the goal of customized and personalized interactions.

For example, Fanatics, an online retailer that specializes in sports apparel, uses the Salesforce Marketing Cloud to create dynamic journeys that change according to the customer's actions. As a shopper moves through the Fanatics website, each page is customized with product recommendations based on click-through behavior and the shopper's purchase history, if it's available.

If the shopper abandons the cart, he or she will receive a reminder email with other recommended items tailored to that shopper's interests. And if the shopper calls customer service, an integration between Salesforce's Marketing and Service Clouds will also show the service rep the shopper's purchase history and other information. Within one year of using the Marketing Cloud, Fanatics' five-person marketing team generated 27,000 campaigns and more than 3.8 billion targeted messages.

Customer relationship management (CRM) forms the underpinnings of customer journey maps. And the use of CRM data is evolving, observed Corinne Sklar, CMO at Bluewolf Group, a cloud consulting firm that was recently acquired by IBM and is a Salesforce partner. "CRM data is becoming more important than ever not for specific areas like marketing, sales, or customer service but for powering the entire customer journey," Sklar said.

However, having access to the right data to power those journeys continues to be a challenge, Sklar noted. Daniel Incandela, SVP of global marketing at Return Path, an email solutions provider, agreed. "Your CRM data is only as good as the effort you put into it," he commented. "Your databases must be kept clean and accurate."

At the same time, scrubbing a database for inaccuracies is useless without a clear goal, Sklar added. Removing duplicate records for example, is useless if those contacts are irrelevant to the campaign. "Marketers should ask themselves, what is the customer journey that they want to realize and then look at where the data lives and go from there," she advised.

Key Takeaways:
- Personalized customer journeys enable brands to drive deeper engagement.
- Customer journey mapping is more powerful when it's driven by data insights, but that depends on how clean and accurate the data is.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION