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The great potential of customer journey marketing

25th Oct 2021
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I recently had the privilege to sit on a judging panel for the DMA Awards, one of the most prestigious award programmes in the marketing world.

One of the reasons for its outstanding reputation is the rigour of the judging process, and I was part of a 10 member judging panel assigned to the category of 'Best Customer Journey'. The other judges came from a variety of backgrounds, providing a good spread of creative marketing, marketing agency, data and CX expertise to analyse the applicant campaigns. 

But while there were some tremendously creative campaigns, what really struck me - and indeed the other judges - was how challenging it clearly is to deliver campaigns that are not focused on disparate engagements within a customer journey, but constitute a campaign complementing the customer journey... or indeed creating a customer journey.

We see campaigns that can very cleverly use a variety of different channels (website display, email, direct mail) within campaigns, but how often do these actually connect them together as part of a pathway to either 'nudge' the customer along their journey towards the company's desired outcome (buy a car!), or to provide the right information at the right time to help the customer along their journey to their own desired outcome (applying for a job!). 

So why is this? Is there a misunderstanding within the marketing profession of what constitutes the 'customer journey'? Is there an assumption that by using a different channel you are by definition going to hit a different point in the customer's journey? Or is it simply that it is a difficult proposition?

The campaigns we judged were incredibly strong, but what the judges were looking for in particular were those that were very data-focused and understood their different customers - they had done their segmentation, they had mapped their customer journeys, they knew what communications were required on what channel and at what time. 

When it came to voting on who would make the shortlist for the final, those that most impressed were the campaigns that possessed this data element, but also combined it with creativity - Canon's campaign ('Fueling a virtuous circle of passion, proficiency and purchase propensity') to assist its customers in developing proficiency in photography and share the fruits of their hard work, is a particularly good example of a true journey-focused campaign. 

But these do seem few and far between. My understanding is that this is a fairly new category at the DMA Awards and it will be fascinatig to see how (or if!) it develops in the coming years, and how sophisticated the applicant campaigns become. Learning about the effectiveness of those that did it well in this year's category, there is clearly a great opportunity for marketers here.

The winners will be announced on Tuesday 7 December – further details here

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