Customer journeys - unlocking hidden opportunities

21st Feb 2017

Aquila Insight’s head of analytics, Matt Hollingsworth, explores how brands can find hidden gems in their data to better understand the customer journey.

The customer journey has become increasingly more complex over the past decade. In part this is due to the impact of digital and the numerous channels now available to find that ultimate product, service, experience or simply socialise. But what effect has this ‘evolution’ had on our understanding of the customer?

While the customer is still king, we’re moving away from the days of continuous face-to-face communication and really knowing customer likes, dislikes and habits. Yes, we can understand interests via digital footprints, but this path means brands and businesses must now jump through many digital customer journey hoops. And, the process is only set to get harder.

Increasing sales while decreasing the loss of potential customers is the aim of every business. Sounds simple doesn’t it?  But what do you know about the customer who buys? Do you know who the non-converting customer is? How can you make this customer more likely to buy? These are some essential questions that must be answered to improve acquisition.

While it can be a challenge to understand the journey customers take, it’s important to understand what makes a prospect convert to a customer. Technology allows you to track customers across multiple platforms and devices – better now than ever before. But as channels increase, and with pending laws such as the general data protection regulation (GDPR) which comes into play in 2018, the impact on brands to garner consumer data effectively will be greatly reduced. It's a ticking clock and businesses need to act quickly.

There is still some education to be had on the complexities of the customer journey and few have truly captured the essence of it all. Pure-play digital businesses such as and eBay have the right approach to understanding the customer journey. Starting out with a digital proposition puts them ahead of more traditional businesses that have legacy systems in place, or those with intermediated relationships such as the FMCG, financial or service provider brands. Such brands have a better grasp of data and how to use its growing mass more intelligently. They’re more equipped to target consumers throughout their purchasing journey, as well prospects in order to increase acquisition.

Here are five tips to making the most of the customer data you have on hand:

1.       Develop direct relationships – 360 customer journey

Don’t be afraid to develop direct relationships with customers - even if you don’t engage them directly. Brands that don’t control the end experience are stuck with the idea that the retailer or sales channel owns the relationship with the consumer. It doesn’t have to be the case. Now more than ever, brands need to build emotional connections with their target audiences to have any chance of standing out. The best way to do this is to speak directly with your audience. Ultimately, the channels are facing the same issues: repeat purchase, buying more often, buying more. Work with them and you’ll be able to integrate the complete journey.

2.       Get to know your audience

People will part with their data as long as there’s a benefit in it for them. So don’t be afraid to ask. If you tell me you want to send me a gift on my birthday I’ll gladly tell you my date of birth. And if my postcode reveals the nearest store to get my gadget repaired, this will save me from trekking somewhere hours away. Transparency is key. Be honest about what you’re asking and why.  In return, you’ll gain trust and likely the information you want to know. .

3.       Location, location, location

Become a geography teacher. I’m not proposing you get yourself a corduroy jacket with padded elbows but you can use your geo data to inform the rest of your business. The customer journey starts with your products being available in the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantities. If you understand actual consumption at a consumer level rather than at retail, you’ll unlock saving in the £££’s. The new Amazon Dash Button is the best example, illustrating how manufacturers are building real-time insights into product consumption.

4.       Let go of legacy systems

Start eliminating legacy systems. I know it’s not an easy task, but once you do or you at least start to streamline your processes, you’ll immediately see value. In order to build a true picture of your customer journey, every aspect of your old systems, processes and skillsets need to be updated and ideally all located in one place. Digital pure-play companies don’t have this issue as their data and insights drive every aspect of their business. But companies who have digital marketing as an offshoot of their main marketing strategy risk being left behind – this needs to be a combined team effort. Look at what millennials are doing with systems and bring old company systems in line.

5.       Know your funnel - inside out

Once your data is streamlined and in one place, you’ll need to join it up and build an accurate picture of your consumer journey. Monthly or even weekly updates will allow you to use your data tactically to adjust your omnichannel strategy, and make the right expenditures, in the right place, at the right time. Organisations that report KPIs based on a customer journey avoid the channel silo mentality and ultimately provide a better experience for their customers.

With these steps you can start to get a better picture of the customer journey, improve acquisition and increase your engagement with your audience.

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By Siddharth Sharma
07th Sep 2017 14:08

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