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How to Use Data Throughout the Customer Journey

Do you know how your customers get from first hearing about your company to becoming loyal patrons? This process is called the customer journey, and understanding this journey can help you more effectively market your brand, create experiences that your customers love and grow your business.

So, how do you go about improving your understanding of your customers’ journeys? The key is using data to create a map of their journey, visualizing how your customers get from point A to point B. Creating a map can reveal insights into your customers’ motivations, show you what’s working and what isn’t, and help you understand how to gain more customers while keeping the ones you have. Learn more about how to gather the necessary data and use it to map your customers’ journeys.

Why Data Matters in the Customer Journey

To create an accurate customer journey map, you need data. Having relevant data helps you move from theorizing about their journeys to creating a model based on hard evidence. The evidence helps you to accurately analyze your processes and reach out to customers in ways that resonate with them.

In marketing, you often hear about the importance of knowing your customers. It helps to learn about their needs, interests, pain points, affinities, and more. Customer journey mapping gives you insight into these areas as well as how your customers interact with your company. You get a broad look at your customers’ relationship with your brand, and you can also zoom in to assess the details.

Having such a clear understanding of how your customers relate to your company can help your business in numerous ways. It can also provide benefits to your customers. If you look at the customer journey and see, for example, that a lot of leads spend a long time comparing several similar products and then decide not to buy, you may want to look closely at this step in the buying process. Perhaps you offer too many options with similar features, or maybe your product descriptions aren’t clear. A customer journey map can bring these kinds of issues to your attention and then help you uncover the root of the problem.

You might also find that a lot of leads that end up on your website are searching for the answer to a particular question. You could then create a blog post or whitepaper that answers this question to help move these leads through the sales funnel. For example, if you run a natural skincare company, and prospects are searching for information about how they can prevent aging using clean ingredients , you could create a detailed guide on the best clean ingredients that fight aging and include a call to action in the guide for them to contact your company for help.

10 Common Sources of Customer Data

Where can you get the data you need to create a customer journey map? There are numerous methods you can use, from leveraging new advanced technologies to enrich your first-party data to simply asking your customers for the information in a survey. Combining data from multiple sources can help you create a comprehensive picture. Some of the data sources you may want to use include:

  1. Web browsing data: One of the most significant sources of data in today’s world is online activity. Every time someone uses your website, you can collect data about them, and, over time, you can track their activity on your site. This will show you how they interact with your brand online. Tracking customers across their numerous devices will give you a more complete picture of who they are.
  2. Mobile app data: You can similarly gather information about customers who use your mobile app. You can often collect even more information with an app than with a website because users create profiles and sign in when using apps. These users are also usually further along in the customer journey and may already be loyal customers.
  3. In-store and e-commerce data: Tracking sales data is crucial to understanding how your customers interact with your business. This information can show you shoppers’ habits over time and give you insights into how they make purchase decisions. If you have an e-commerce site as well as brick-and-mortar stores, combine the data to get a more complete understanding.
  4. Advertising platform data: Collecting data from the advertising platforms you use will give you information about users who are typically in the early stages of their customer journeys. Combining information from your ads with sales and other data can help you start to get an idea of how the customer journey progresses.
  5. Loyalty program data: The customers who participate in your loyalty program are probably some of your best customers. Collecting data about who these customers are and how they interact with your business can help you find more customers like them.
  6. Survey data: Sometimes, the most effective way to understand your customers’ journeys is simply to ask them. Sending out surveys to customers can provide you with high-quality information to use in creating your customer journey map.
  7. Social media data: Social media is one of the main ways many companies interact with customers. Analyze how users interact with you on these platforms to improve your social strategies as well as your broader marketing strategies.
  8. Customer service data: Your customer service department can provide valuable information about how customers interact with your brand after they’ve made a purchase. The data can be crucial to building and maintaining brand loyalty.
  9. Sales department data: It’s important to consider information about the sales that didn’t happen in addition to the successful ones. This information can give you insight into what’s working well, what you need to change and what types of leads are most likely to close.
  10.   Second-party and third-party data: Data you collect directly from your customers is called first-party data. While valuable, first-party data presents a slim view of your customers’ activity from within the confines of your properties. To expand and enrich your view, you can also purchase data about customers from outside sources. Much of this enriched data will fall into one of the nine categories above. However, if you choose to collaborate with another brand, you are using second-party data, or someone else’s first-party data. You can also buy third-party data from an aggregator who collects it from various sources. You can use it to gain deeper insights into your customers’ behaviors and characteristics and to expand your audience.

Once you collect data from a variety of sources, you need to organize it in a single platform so that you can analyze it and see how it works together. This is the step in the process where you’ll see your customer journey map starting to come together. 

How Data Transforms Consumers Into Clients

Using data, you can track how customers move through your sales funnel. You can also use data to inform how you interact with customers who are at various stages of the customer journey. Ultimately, data can help you turn someone who is merely casually interested in your company into a paying customer.

The sales funnel is the process by which prospects become clients. At the top of the funnel are those who have only a casual interest in your brand. Those in the middle of the funnel start to show more interest in what you have to offer. Finally, those at the bottom of the funnel are nearing a purchase decision. The top of the funnel is wide, while at the bottom of the funnel, only the most qualified leads remain.

1. Top-of-Funnel Data

At the top of your funnel are members of your target audience, many of whom are just finding out about your business for the first time. You might reach this audience using content marketing, digital ads or public relations. You can easily determine which of these users may move further through your funnel by looking at metrics about who reads your blog posts and clicks on your ads. Analyzing this data can show you what types of users are most interested in your company. You can then target your campaigns towards those types of users.

2. Mid-Funnel Data

In the middle of your funnel, you have prospects who are interested in what you have to offer but aren’t seriously considering making a purchase yet. These users will make an effort to learn about your company and its offerings. They might attend a webinar, download a gated e-book or sign up for an email list. The types of content these users interact with can give you an idea of which products or services they may be interested in. Data about which mid-funnel prospects move on to the bottom of the funnel can help guide your strategies for creating mid-funnel content.

3. Bottom-of-Funnel Data

Prospects in the bottom of the funnel are seriously considering making a purchase with your company. They want details about the products and services you offer. They might request a trial or demo, view content related to the pricing and product details and share information with their internal buying team. Tracking how bottom-of-funnel prospects interact with your brand and which leads ultimately become customers will give you valuable insights related to customer acquisition. It will tell you what types of users are most likely to become customers, what kinds of information bottom-of-funnel prospects want and what approaches are most likely to help close sales.

Provide a Personalized Experience 

Customers today increasingly expect customization, and creating a personalized experience for users can help businesses find success. Tailoring your marketing efforts, and later the customer experience, to different customers can help make your messaging more relevant, improve users’ opinions of your brand and build brand loyalty.

Gone are the days of sending out one general message to a broad audience. Today, with the help of data, you can customize your marketing messages to different users, all at different stages of the journey. You can create user profiles for various categories of potential customers based on their interests, needs, their position at their company, how much funding they likely have available and other characteristics. You can even drill down to the individual level and create personalized campaigns for single users. For example, if one potential customer told you in a survey they’re interested in sports, you could serve them ads that show people playing sports. You can also take into account the kinds of products a given customer typically buys from you and recommend related products or give them special discounts on what they often buy.

Digital advertising allows you to be flexible in this way. You can easily serve different ads and suggest different articles or products to different users. But how do you know which content you should show to which users? The answer, of course, is data. When you collect data about individual users, you can use it to inform how you interact with them. If you don’t have detailed information about a specific user, you can take what you do know about them and see if they have any characteristics in common with people you have interacted with in the past. You can then make an educated guess about what they’d be interested in. As they interact with you more, you’ll get more data about them, and you can refine your messaging further.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a form of personalized marketing. It’s most often used in B2B companies. ABM lets you skip the line and immediately start to target prospects at the bottom of the funnel. For ABM to work, your marketing team and your sales team need to be on the same page and aligned in their goals. They can then work in tandem to target organizations and companies that are most likely to increase your company’s bottom line or most likely to lead to regular sales.

The focus of ABM is content and marketing geared directly at the accounts you are targeting. Delivering personalized offers and creating a customer experience based on the needs of your targets means that ABM is more likely to have a high return on investment compared to less-personal or more general marketing efforts.

While creating a customer journey map for all of your customers or large categories of customers is essential, every customer is unique. By taking your data a step further, you can begin to personalize your marketing to get better results.

Make Changes Without the Guesswork

To maximize the success of your marketing campaigns, you need to pay close attention to how they’re performing and make adjustments as necessary. No one creates a perfect campaign on the first try, and even if they did, changes in the market and trends among customers would likely force them to change up their strategies as time goes on. Data can help you to evaluate what’s working well and what’s not so you can make changes to optimize your campaigns. Data also helps you to be agile and make any necessary changes quickly.

Tracking data related to the customer journey can help you make the journey smoother and more enjoyable for users. If you see that people seem to be having trouble choosing a subscription plan for your cloud-based software, for example, you could create a resource about that topic or try to make your offerings simpler. Your data might reveal that video content tends to move more top-of-funnel leads down the funnel. Because of this finding, you might shift your content focus toward video for these types of prospects.

You can also evaluate how your customer journey data relates to the key performance indicators (KPIs) your company is tracking. Monitoring and visualizing these metrics can help you ensure that the customer journey and your business goals are aligned. Some KPIs you might want to track include conversion rates, retention rates and average order size. This data can help you determine how effective your marketing campaigns, loyalty programs and other initiatives are.

With data, you no longer have to guess how well your campaigns are doing and what’s driving their success. You can access up-to-date information about your campaigns and the customer journey and then make the necessary changes to optimize them.

Harnessing the Power of Data With Lotame

Data is a powerful tool, and it’s only getting more valuable as the volume of it grows and new technologies become available. Harnessing the power of data can be challenging, though, especially if you’re just starting out. Having the right partner and the right tools can help. That’s where Lotame comes in.

Lotame helps marketers and media companies discover smarter, faster, and easier ways to drive growth and derive value from customer data – whether you have it or need it. Our end-to-end data collaboration platform, Spherical, allows marketers to tap into actionable customer intelligence to more effectively target audiences and personalize content to customer needs. Marketers can bring together all their first-party data, collaborate with other partners of their choice, and use built-in analytics powered by the largest global data marketplace to inform audience segmentation, growth, and planning.

Seeing is believing! Watch this short demo to see the Spherical platform in action.