Is the Customer Journey Dead and Gone?
Brands and their agency partners have notoriously spent hours huddled together, developing consumer personas, bucketing and profiling target demographics to build customer journeys while rarely considering mindsets. Today, the once linear customer journey has evolved almost beyond the point of recognition. But does that make it irrelevant in today’s marketing landscape?
It would be wrong to say that the customer journey is completely dead. However, marketing teams ought to consider making a few adjustments to their tactics.
Draw Outside the Lines
Customer journeys as we once knew them were mostly drawn in a straight line. There were points of interaction throughout that worked to build brand awareness, trust, and eventually — hopefully — loyalty leading to purchase, but no matter how that journey was sliced, the methods were pretty linear.
The marketing world we operate in today is diverse, complicated, multi-layered and thankfully, not purely based on demographics. Our needs, expectations, and awareness have evolved and so too must the customer experience.
Brands that don’t understand the multitude of entry points available and embrace a more holistic approach to engagement, will and are losing out to those that do. And while change is hard, doing nothing simply isn’t an option. Does Blockbuster or Toys R Us ring any bells?
Get Out From Behind the Computer Screen
In parallel with the rise of the customer journey, is the increasing value of personalization.
Banner ads on a frequently visited website once did wonders for sales, and those initiatives still have a role to play, but with 65 percent of today’s Millennials saying that they’re more influenced by positive, memorable experiences than traditional marketing, brands need to take note, up their customer journey game and branch out from behind the computer. Providing people with a unique experience — from immersive pop-ups, VR installations, theatrical performances, or just simple one-on-one interactions - is the way to go. Meeting people where they already are and providing them with a positive experience will result in a far greater lasting impact.
Your Veggies Aren’t the Only Thing Going Organic
One of the biggest mistakes a brand can make throughout the customer journey — and one that happens all too often — is inauthentic marketing. People are much savvier about marketing than they previously were. Between online reviews, social media posts, and good old-fashioned word-of-mouth, there’s a high probability that your target audience has already developed some preconceived thoughts about your brand, before you’ve even had a chance to engage with them.
Brands needs to better understand and educate themselves thoroughly on the mindset of the people they want to engage. What are the likes and dislikes of a particular group? What binds them? Where are they and when? And most importantly when it comes to the customer journey process and organic marketing — how can your brand provide true value?
People, Not Consumers
Along that same vein is thinking of people purely in terms of dollars and cents or generic instruments of consumption. At the end of the day, the people you’re trying to reach are just that — people. They have jobs, families, hobbies, interests and they probably don’t think of themselves in terms of a nice, neat demographic. They have likes and dislikes just like you, and yes, you’re also included in “they” since there’s always someone or some brand targeting you, too! As a marketer, it can be challenging not to get lost in the haze of your role, but true personalization is achieved when marketers are able to put themselves in their audiences’ shoes. Call me delusional, but I hate being called a consumer. It sounds soulless and transactional.
So let’s not relegate the humble customer journey just yet, because it’s far from being dead and buried. It’s simply evolving, and marketing teams that shift their focus to more personalized, experience-based, organic tactics, are the ones that will far and away stand out from the crowd.
Originally from Boston, Fredda left her studies at the University of California Berkeley for an eight-year stint in Paris, starting with the then named International Herald Tribune and Associated Press before moving back to the states as the Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, RedPeg Marketing in Alexandria, Va.
Fredda has worked on a diverse group of brands throughout her career including American Express, Bacardi, Barclays, Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, Eurostar, FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, MINI, the NBA, Nestle, Yahoo! amongst others, and has had the privilege of working on large-scale international programs, brand experiences and integrated marketing campaigns from World Cups to music tours to fashion weeks to the Olympics and everything in between and beyond.