How to Map the Right Data to Stages of the Customer Journey

The basic concept behind the customer journey is simple: it’s a cohesive set of activities for customers as they begin to engage with a brand, from the initial touch point through eternity. The best customer journeys never lose sight of the big picture—that is, continually driving customer acquisition, engagement and retention, while nurturing a profitable and loyal relationship with each customer.

Talking about the overall goal of your brand’s customer journey is one thing, but actually sitting down to map the right data to specific stages can prove quite challenging. Customer journey mapping involves getting the right data—whether it’s from mobile, email, page visits, etc.—and using it in the right way to drive customer engagement. But how do you know what the right data is?

Mapping the right data to specific stages of the customer journey is all about getting to know your customers and developing a plan to put that knowledge into action. And since the best-laid plans begin with identifying the problem, that’s exactly where we are going to start.

Challenges in Obtaining the Single Customer View

Most marketers would agree that knowing who their customers are is integral to any successful marketing campaign. With a clear understanding of customers’ likes, dislikes, location, demographics, and purchasing behavior, marketers can form a precise view of each and every one of their customers.

The primary problem behind this concept, however, lies in marketers’ ability to obtain the right data—usually residing in disparate systems or data silos—to build this precise, single customer view that is crucial for customer journey success. Email data might be sitting in a system separated from Web analytics, which is separated from mobile, which is separated from social. The partitions separating important customer data can result in haphazard customer views that are anything but complete and can inhibit understanding who a customer is and how that individual engages/interacts across different channels.

Another problem that further distorts the single customer view is the quality of the data being obtained. The data filling marketing databases and data platforms comes from many sources and in many formats. Thus, extensive data quality audits and data integration must be carried out by IT and marketing departments to analyze the data sources’ utility while at the same time confirming that the data is useable in a way that doesn’t violate consumer trust. The first question a marketer should ask before using customer data in his marketing campaign is, “Does using this data violate the customer’s trust?”

Disparate systems and questionable data inhibit marketers from knowing and understanding who their customers are every time they engage. Without the single customer view, marketers face huge barriers from the very start. So what can marketers do to ensure they discover the right data?

Before You Map Your Data, You Must First Consolidate It

Before you lay out your customer journey, you need to understand who you are marketing to. Some marketers are just now beginning to understand the Millennial Generation, only to have Generation Z rapidly moving up through the ranks. According to Pamela Pavliscak, founder of Change Sciences, Generation Z—defined as kids 17 and under—stand to be the largest generation yet. They will also mark “the first generation to grow up with touch screens, social media, and pervasive Internet.”

Although these individuals’ impact on the marketplace won’t be felt for years to come, the juxtaposition of a group born and raised on digital devices and Generation X demonstrates how diverse customers can be—which means you need to find the right data to effectively market to each customer type. Obtaining beneficial customer data is at the core of any customer journey, but such a comprehensive view proves difficult for enterprises working with separate data siloes across multiple platforms. Add to that the 87 percent of consumers that use more than one device at a time and developing the single view of the customer while keeping valuable data sets isolated becomes even harder to accomplish.

This is why obtaining the right customer data means consolidating data from various sources. The more sources your enterprise can pull data from, the clearer your customer view becomes, enabling you to present marketing offers that engage customers on a personal level.

Data consolidation doesn’t just help you understand who your customers are, when analytics is applied it also helps your brand anticipate what the best offers for your customers will be. Once you have all of your customer data in one place to create a holistic customer view, you can begin mapping the right data to different stages of the customer journey.

Map Your Brand’s Customer Journey

The customer journey varies from one enterprise to another, so it’s important to start this process by first identifying specific touch points where a customer might engage with your brand. Think of this as a micro-journey for your business: a closer look at touch-point engagement that can help you achieve your overall goal of customer acquisition and retention.

In the micro-journey of customer engagement, there are two important elements marketers should consider: static components and dynamic components. Elements such as monthly mailers, weekly newsletters, and SMS alerts are all static components that can be controlled by marketers, but equal consideration must be made for dynamic elements, such as varying customer engagement times and the unknowns behind what marketing messages consumers will and will not connect with.

This is where having access to consolidated data that can illustrate customer segments, behaviors, interaction frequency, and overall satisfaction will help you gain the single view of the customer that is an integral part of connecting with your audience. Applying this single view will help your brand develop and deploy the best possible offers based on what you’ve learned about your customers. Preparing for that last millisecond when after days or weeks or months of marketing messages the customer finally engages with your brand—and knowing exactly what the next best action or offer should be—is key to gaining measurable results.

Measuring Your Customer Journey Results

You can learn even more about your customers throughout the course of your marketing campaign by using analytics to determine what touch points your customers are engaging with and which they are forsaking altogether. Analytics help marketers discover what is working for their brands and what isn’t, prompting them to make course corrections based on what resonates with customers.

Measuring your marketing efforts through every stage of the customer journey can also help your enterprise improve its ability to deliver contextual content to customers. By tying in what you’ve discovered through analytics with a campaign management solution, you’ll be able to manage the business rules for all inbound and outbound marketing interactions while making adjustments as time goes on. Such capabilities give marketers the capacity to continually improve each stage of the customer journey, from the first anonymous inbound connection to the known and authenticated brand advocate.

Final Thoughts

Mapping the right data to stages of the customer journey is all about getting to know your customers—and that means consolidating the data you’ve discovered before applying it to your next marketing campaign. Keep your eyes on the big picture by delivering the best experiences possible for your customers during each stage of the customer journey while measuring your results to improve your marketing efforts. It’s the best way to drive the type of engagements that lead to brand loyalty—and ultimately residual revenue for your enterprise.