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Fine-tuning your customer journey

Customer journey assetsThrow away your old metrics! Start thinking about intention, progression and aversion

Social media, mobile devices and more accessible broadband have changed consumers’ buying habits and flipped the customer journey completely on its head. Twenty-five years ago a marketer could send a campaign and measure responses and conversions in a chronological pattern, but now customers have a plethora of platforms to choose between and can meander any which way they choose, so it’s very hard to shepherd them along a defined path.

However, marketers are still clinging to old, linear campaign metrics (sends, opens, clicks and transactions), which do not accurately measure the journey of the modern, platform-roaming consumer. The truth is that this linear mind-set is highly ineffective when it comes to measuring the success or failure of a non-linear customer journey.

Consumers changed 25 years ago, but many marketers missed the boat

Consumers are now fully in control of their own buying journey. Yes, they can be nudged along a particular path or encouraged to look a certain way, but the journey is rarely straightforward or predictable. However, some marketers are still clinging onto the old metrics to measure the success of their campaigns because they don’t know any different.

Control groups and AB splits are often used to measure the success of a new initiative or campaign tweak, but such fine testing is impractical when it comes to the wider journey, during which the customer may interact with your brand multiple times across many channels.

If a customer will touch seven or more channels on route to purchase, and can make hundreds of decisions along that journey, then an A/B split at every turn will be enough to confuse the most experienced Data Scientist, let alone the poor marketer just trying to better understand their customers.

It’s time to start thinking about new ways to measure the customer journey

When thinking about optimizing the modern customer journey, a good way to analyze the steps is to think about intention, progression and aversion. Jim Kelly, Principal Consultant at BlueVenn, explains in this Cross-Journey Optimization webinar that:

“Rather than thinking about measuring a customer’s response to a specific communication, we’re trying to measure their response to our intention for them, which might be simply to purchase. So, rather than measure impact, rather than measure click-through or open rate, we’re going to measure whether the customer has met the intention or not.

“Progression and aversion are the two groups of people I want to understand. Progression is the customers that did what I wanted in the way I wanted, aversion is the customers that didn’t.”

He goes on to explain that, to understand progression, you’ll need to know which metrics you have affected for the customers that have successfully moved through this journey. Conversely, to understand aversion, you’ll need to understand the metrics that influenced those customers that didn’t choose to do what you wanted them to do, as well as their true worth to you.

Watch the Cross-Journey Optimization webinar

As marketers, we need to move past the old metrics and campaigns that have no relevance in the new age of the customer and look at new ways to monitor cost, measure response, attribute impact and improve communications.

In this webinar, BlueVenn Principal Consultant Jim Kelly will explore this topic in more detail and discuss concepts such as ‘cross-journey communication’ to manage the customer experience.

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It doesn’t matter at what point in the journey they make a purchase, whether it is on initial website checkout or from a recovery email basket, as long as they do actually purchase.

So, rather than measuring click-through or open rate, you’ll need to measure whether the customer has met your intention for them, and regardless of whether they’ve converted or not, what steps took them to where they ended up in your journey. What did their final action – meeting the intention or not meeting it – mean to your business?

Assessing or scoring the engagement, timing and value of each journey step will help you to sort the hot spots from the problem areas. Analyzing the customers that averted from the desired behaviour will provide insights that will help you to optimize a part of the aversion process and better understand what has influenced the outcome of the journey.

experience@2xEngagement monitors actions taken by the customer and is generally quite straightforward to manage. Jim explains:

“If it’s an email it’s simple, have they opened the email, have they clicked on any links in the email? When they go to the website and I personalize an element of my page, are they clicking on that element? Anything I can measure about open rates, click rates, whether they’ve read it, whether they’ve digested it, if they’ve watched any videos is quite a key one as well.”

watch@2xTiming is how quickly the customer moves through the different journey stages towards conversion. According to Jim:

“This depends on the intention you actually have, but typically speaking, the quicker I can move my customer through each part of the stage, the quicker I can achieve the outcome.”

With certain products, though, like insurance where there’s an 11 or 12-month cycle, nurturing might be more important than timing.

right@2xValue can be monetary or part of an overall customer experience or customer affinity score. It can also be tricky to measure, as the instant value might not equate to the ultimate value. It might be that a person abandons a relatively low value basket, but a half hour later checks out with a higher value basket that includes an item you featured in a personalized “products you might like” list. The true value can therefore only be calculated by tying the two events together.

You’ll want to understand the value generated for people you helped through the journey and the value for those that you didn’t help, as only by knowing this can you work out the importance of a particular step in the journey.

Monitoring each completed, or non-completed, journey step and measuring the engagement, timing and value along the way is a great way to tell which touchpoints are most likely to lead to success and which are causing friction (and therefore need to be fixed).

In other words, analyzing customers that averted from the desired behavior will help you to optimize a part of the aversion process (or journey). The trick is to work out how best to intervene in the aversion journey without annoying the customer.

Devising your aversion and progression scores at each stage will take time, but will help you to understand which customers are prime candidates for nurturing. Jim warns:

“Don’t forget, I’m not trying to manage and measure the communication, I’m trying to measure the impact of the entire journey.

Customers won’t always travel through the journey in the way you desire, for example they might not check out within 15 minutes, but might prefer to do a bit of research first then actually purchase in the store the next day. So, achieving a complete view of each customer’s transactions, interactions and behaviors will help you to successfully pinpoint suitable areas for improvement to the customer journey.

These days, following a customer from end-to-end of the customer journey is impossible, because there is no linear, end-to-end movement to follow. New ways to monitor cost, measure response, attribute impact and improve communications are needed, and having an idea of whether or not a customer has behaved as hoped, and if not, why they haven’t, is a good starting block.

The customer is now in charge of their own journey, and our job as marketers is to follow the breadcrumbs they leave for us (something a Customer Data Platform can help with).

For nine more great ideas of how you can help to ensure that your customer’s experience of your brand will be a good one, with few obstacles to stop them reaching the endpoint you’re hoping to get them to, check our '10 tips for optimizing the customer journey’ book today.

Want to know more? Download the 10 tips for optimizing the customer journey eBook for more advice.


This eBook will help your organization to refine your end-to-end customer journey, ensuring that the customer’s needs, pain points, interests and behaviours are all taken into account when constructing the perfect brand experience for them.

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Topics: customer journey customer engagement journey mapping customer experience customer journey orchestration segmentation