Optimizing the Customer Journey using Microsegments and Cross-Journey Communication


There’s no doubt that the customer journey has changed beyond all recognition in the past decade. Today, customers expect to be able to mold their experience to meet their exact requirements. As they go meandering through seemingly unlimited online and offline channels - perhaps browsing on a mobile device, then heading into a store to examine the product and chat to a salesperson, before summoning up a discount code and placing an order on their phone then and there - the marketer's challenge is to keep up with them. Gone are the days of linear marketing campaigns.

But how can marketers stay one step ahead of this seemingly random journey, navigated in the moment, to push the customer towards a purchase? How can they measure what effect marketing efforts are having on the customer experience (this is important; after all, a 2017 Gartner whitepaper, 'What Drives Customer Loyalty Over Time', found 77% of surveyed customers said their opinions of a brand are a result of all the experiences they have with a company)? And do campaigns still have a role to play?

Here we look at three important concepts that marketers need to consider to evolve from a multi-channel campaign mindset to an always-on, omnichannel customer journey approach to marketing:

1. Measuring intention

Although there's still a place for traditional campaign metrics like clicks, opens, responses or conversions, they no longer form the full picture that a modern marketer needs to see. Instead, savvy marketers are thinking about the cumulative impact of the full customer experience. One great way of getting to know your customer and understand their intentions is to study the buying journey of two different groups, those who either did or didn't convert, to try and spot patterns in their purchase journeys and identify the pivotal touch-points. At BlueVenn we define this as 'Progression' or 'Aversion':

  • Progression: The metric used to measure the impact of a step in a customer journey on customers that did what you wanted. 
  • Aversion: The metric used to measure the impact of a step in a customer journey on customers that did not do what you wanted.

To measure intention in this way, marketers can look at engagement, timing and value metrics to understand the level of success delivered by the journey and the value of customers as they move through it. In case you're wondering to what degree a customer's brand experience and lifetime value are linked, one Harvard Business Review study, 'The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified', found that where a customer had enjoyed what they classed as a first rate experience with a brand, according to subjective measures like the NPS, they were likely to spend 140% more than people who said they'd had a poor experience. 

2. Building microsegments

Marketers have long used sociodemographic factors (such as age, gender, family size and income) to segment their customers and create personas to shape their marketing strategies. Now, thanks to data unifying technologies such as Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) and Data Management Platforms (DMPs), first, second and third party data can be combined in one place to enrich a brand's view of its customers. The explosion of big data has provided brands with access to huge volumes of behavioral data, too. 

This behavioral data, such a purchase history, website viewing history, cart abandonment habits and so on, has enabled the creation of detailed personas and far more specific microsegments for precision targeted messaging campaigns. Customers might be placed in a microsegment depending on which device they use most heavily, what time they tend to visit a brand's site or open their emails, or the channel via which they prefer to receive marketing messages. These microsegments give insights not only into a customer's persona, but how they like to be treated or approached, based on the way that they act.

You can measure engagement, timing and value metrics for all your microsegments, comparing the performance of progression or aversion journeys against the average for each microsegment.

From this, you can learn whether you are outperforming the average, or perhaps under-performing with your aversives. Is what the customers are doing without your help earning more money than when Marketing intervenes, for example?

It gives you the knowledge to:

  • Create optimization tactics for your progressive customers, that is identify any needs they may have and attempt to meet them.
  • Craft 'lookalike segments' of people worth targeting, who share key characteristics or behavioral traits with the brand's best customers and might respond positively to special offers or promotions.
  • Identify the negative experiences that your aversives have had, then improve these measurably over time to encourage better outcomes.

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Using a CDP & Analytics for Customer Journey Optimization

3. Cross-journey communication

As part of an optimized customer journey, marketers require the ability to conduct a single, holistic journey conversation with each individual. Take, for example, a customer who has just received a positive communication from a brand because they appeared to be in a 'loyalty behavior' stage of their journey.

However, they received this message shortly after emailing the company to complain about a recent purchase. The customer, understandably, is confused to the point where any positive intent from the original message is negated, and they might even be moved to make a second complaint about the perceived ignorance of the customer’s negative feelings towards the brand. 

This is an incident where a customer has ‘fallen through the cracks’ between touchpoints, a situation that could have been avoided with cross-journey communication, where one important behavioral action can alter the rest of the journey appropriately and leave the customer with a positive impression of the brand.

Cross-journey communication is like applying a metaphorical sticky note to a customer classed within a microsegment. As they progress through their customer journey (or journeys), a record can be made at any touchpoint, on any channel, allowing marketers to monitor their behavior and shape future communications. In other words, a Single Customer View can be created that will be referred to and leveraged in future to ensure that only appropriate, targeted communications reach the customer.

This might lead to them receiving a specific piece of creative or being delivered personalized content next time they visit your website, decide what time of day they receive an email, or even dictate that they receive fewer, or no communications at all.

Adopting modern marketing techniques

The three concepts discussed in this blog are just some of many that marketers should be aware of if they hope to change the way that they measure the customer journey and alter the customer experience to match the one that modern consumers demand.

In many ways, B2B marketers have been upping the game for years by making good use of lead scoring, nurturing and content marketing to move leads between sales stages, then monitoring the time that those leads take to get from one to the next. B2C marketers could do a lot worse than take a leaf from the B2B marketing handbook on lead nurturing and apply the same mindset to the consumer journey. Unfortunately, though, many are still striving to hit their click, open and like KPIs.

Want to know more? Download the Customer Journey Optimization eBook where we expand on this topic.

Customer Journey Optimization eBook

Evolving from a campaign mindset to an omnichannel customer journey culture requires a transformation of technology, data, thinking, processes and measurement. BlueVenn, as well as being an omnichannel marketing automation and Customer Data Platform vendor, works closely with clients, using our expertise to transform their culture, data and approach to direct marketing.

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Topics: customer journey