Putting the Customer Back in the Customer Decision Journey

The customer decision journey is what marketing is about: Customers go through a process when they decide to purchase something, and marketers try to help them along their way. Ideally the journey ends with a purchase of your products or services, and a great post-purchase experience.

But when the talk in the digital marketing industry so often centers on walled gardens, ad viewability, and programmatic video, the customer journey often gets short shrift. And marketers can’t afford to forget that their mission is to help the customer find the product or service they desire.

To understand the customer journey, retailers need the ability to create profiles of their customers, and act swiftly when their customers are looking to buy. Profiles tie everything together, so you can see where your customer has been, and where you’d like them to go next.

Effective people-based marketing relies on three important steps—and if retailers can master them, customers will be skipping down the path to purchase.

1.    Ensure that you’re harnessing live data.

Too many retailers miss “in-market” cues from their customers. As a result, retailers may send tone-deaf communications, or none at all, as they fail to capitalize on the opportunity.

Often these missed cues are the result of not recognizing a customer across channels and devices. What you know about a customer needs to be updated constantly, and it needs to be actionable.

Intent data matters because it takes the guesswork out of targeting by pinpointing customers who are actually in market. The fresher that data is, the more accurate it will be, and the greater chance of engagement and conversion.

To make sure you’re not missing a beat, you need the ability to collect data from everywhere your customers are interacting with you: websites, apps, in store, etc. Because if you aren’t listening to what your customers are telling you, you won’t be able to reply with the right message.

2.    Use these signals to build rich, deep customer profiles.

Once you’re tuned in to all the data you need, it’s time to pull all that data from the different sources together. It’s about taking the data you are collecting and fusing it into a unified event stream at the customer level, not necessarily about adding new data.

Perhaps the same customer has been on two seemingly disparate customer journeys—one on a computer, and one on mobile. With matching technology, you can recognize these two journeys as belonging to one person, and you can merge those journeys into one profile that’s always accurate and up-to-date.

Customers are identified by multiple IDs, and some IDs are better and more durable than others. Without a cross-channel identity platform, you risk wasting spend on advertising a product to customers who have already bought the product in another channel.

By turning your customer’s signals into a profile, you can understand that the person you saw on mobile, web, and in-store are the same person. That is vital for people-based marketing.

3.    Generate insights to send the right message at the right time.

With your profiles built and automatically collecting fresh data from your always-on customers, you can now understand your customer’s path: Sophia looked for shoes, then shoes for distance running, and she reads all the reviews of running shoes with more cushioning. With this data, you can generate insights—and suddenly your marketing is more intelligent. You can send the right message at the right time.

Getting the right message to an in-market customer is the key to effectively influencing them to consider your product or service. Today, that’s harder than ever because this requires responding to a customer signal in one channel (like a mobile app) and activating a marketing message in another channel (like email or display advertising).

A marketer needs the ability to translate any customer signal into a marketing action in any channel without worrying if that channel deals in cookies, emails addresses, or mobile device IDs.

Putting It All Together

Effective people-based marketing requires a dedication to ensuring your customers have a smooth, rewarding journey. It also requires the right tools.

The Signal platform enables retailers to think about the best way to reach customers, without worrying about which channel, cookie, or device ID is required to make that happen.

Signal’s ID graph ties a customer’s actions to the customer, so regardless of where the customer is interacting with your brand, retailers can recognize the customer and generate insights that take all of their interests and activities into account.

With the Signal platform, retailers can receive data from everywhere customers are interacting, recognize customers across devices and channels, and instantly take action on data and insights. Our technology resolves identity and activates cross-channel data, so that retailers can focus on providing an amazing customer experience.

After all, helping customers discover and enjoy products and services that meet their needs is what marketing is all about.

To learn how marketers can get more from their first-party data and delight their customers, view our Marketer’s Guide to First-Party Data.


Originally published August 11, 2015

Todd Schoenherr was formerly SVP of Product Strategy at Signal. Prior to Signal he was a VP at Guild Capital, a venture capital firm focused on media and technology companies. He also led product and marketing teams at Orbitz Worldwide and consulted for Fortune 500 clients at Accenture.Todd received a B.S. in Engineering from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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