By Anne Olderog, Partner, Vivaldi
In the privacy and loyalty-forward world of empowered consumers, brand leaders are eager to understand what drives demand. The traditional brand funnel which focused on purchase points has been thrown to the wind and given way to a more relational model, where the focus is extending existential value for the consumer and in the process building strong relationships.
When playing the long game of building customer relationships, customer mapping becomes ever more important and as such, it’s crucial to get it right.
The Evolution of Customer Journey Mapping
I like to think about bumblebee customers – the kind that adds items to their online shopping carts and then buzzes around, get distracted and land on watching a cooking video. Or the kind that starts off on their laptop but then buzzes over to their tablet before finally landing on their phone. The consumer journey is not linear, and I think that most of us can agree on that. It is an unpredictable, multi-path and multi-layered journey fraught with several touchpoints.
However, that shouldn’t be seen as negative. It gives marketers a chance to really get to know their consumers and comprehend their pain points. It allows them to decipher what made their customers switch from desktop to mobile and why. The customer journey has evolved to be more focused on the different actions that occur between product view and product purchase and less about the actual purchase. As we strive to be more in tune with what our customers want, we must ensure that customer journey mapping is just as dynamic, contextual and technologically savvy as the consumers themselves.
Customer Mapping At Its Best
For marketers, their main priority when using customer journey mapping should be to improve the consumer experience. Too often, marketing efforts are executed with the brand or company in mind rather than the consumer, making the actual journey disjointed, inefficient and altogether unappealing. But in this customer-centric world, we can use customer journey mapping to rectify or at least mitigate consumers’ most severe pain points by ensuring it is conducted through a company-agnostic lens that integrates both on- and offline experiences.
The process may shed light on issues that marketers didn’t recognize issued in the first place. For example, user experience becomes more and more important with each passing year as it’s become clear that consumers move easily and often from one device and platform to another. A marketer’s end analysis may find that consumers were most frustrated not by the product but by the steps needed to purchase it. That said, customer mapping may also lead to insights around how to improve the next iterations of specific products so that they may resonate with new buying groups. From a branding perspective, customer mapping may bring to light gaps in messaging across products, platforms and projects, giving marketers opportunities to create a more holistic branding ecosystem.
A Few Things to Consider As You Embark on the Customer Mapping Journey
Decide what time frame works best for your needs. Does it make the most sense to map the consumer journey though one interaction or through several months worth of interactions? It depends on the insights that the marketer is interested in garnering. If the goal is to build strong customer relationships, then a marketer might consider longer time frames.
The level of detail used in customer mapping will also be dictated by specific goals. Shorter time frames may necessitate an increased level of detail to gain adequate information while the opposite may be true for longer time frames and of course, none of that matters unless the right information is captured.
While there may be many goals in mind, the overarching goal of customer mapping should be to discover valuable insights that will lead to actionable outcomes. Marketers can easily be ensnared by the descriptive elements of customer mapping and forget that the data-driven sectors may be what ultimately aids them in addressing consumer concerns.
Now that we’re beyond the thought of linear customer mapping, it’s hard to believe that marketers ever thought it a viable explanation to how consumers think, never taking into account the messiness of what it means to be human. But as we evolve and understand what it truly means to be consumer advocates, marketers will find that customer mapping, when done well, can offer priceless returns.