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The Customer Journey Paradigm for Marketing
B2B buyers seemingly amble along a random path – an actual journey – before closing. And, why wouldn’t they? Buyers now have more resources than ever to help inform their decision. At our buyers’ fingertips are reviews, social posts, blogs, analyst research, Youtube videos – the list of decision-making resources is endless.
The Typical Customer Journey Map
Marketers have been taught to incorporate customer journeys into their marketing strategy. Mapping every decision point a potential customer might make along the way.
Even when strategizing a single marketing campaign, it is tempting to build linear customer journey maps that follow an IFTT (if this then that) model. I’ve seen pitches and campaign presentations where prospects neatly progress from A to B. While that’s a nice thought, it’s unrealistic.
They will typically look like this:
Email Blast > Clicks Link > Registers for Webinar > Attends Webinar > Love’s the Webinar > Reaches out to Sales
The Reality of a Modern Customer Journey
However, human people who also happen to be B2B buyers do something like this:
1. Email Blast 1 > Ignore
2. Email Blast 2 > Ignore
3. Sees Ad on LinkedIn > Logs a Mental Note deep in their subconscious
4. Sees social re-post from Friend > Makes a Mental Note
5. Email Blast 3 > Mentally registers the connection
6. Sees Ad on LinkedIn > Thinks “Oh yeah, those people”
7. Sales Call > Goes to VM > Deletes VM without listening
8. Email Blast 4 > Clicks – let me see what this webinar is all about
9. Webinar > Forgets to go
10. Sales Follow-Up Process > Do I keep going with this example?!
People simply don’t follow a marketer’s prescribed “Customer Journey” steps. We’re more nuanced. We make emotional decisions. Sometimes we’re logical – and even then, not predictable.
As a Marketer, here’s what you need to do about Customer Journeys:
1. Recognize the Customer Journey as just that – an actual journey. A journey is an adventure with twists and turns. Unexpected insights. Uphill lulls and then periods of sudden downhill acceleration. A journey is dynamic.
2. Strategize and design marketing programs that are interconnected, intentional, and relevant to a buyer’s journey – and make a reasonable effort to consider all the paths that your target will travail. Develop assets and messages that creatively add value to each step on the customer journey – it would be ideal if each step leads to the next. In many cases, that’s just not reality which brings us to point #3…
3. Hone a consistent story throughout the customer experience. Anticipate that they will venture off the path – this is okay. Ensure that your story is consistent, with consistent branding, and there for them when they find their way back because if you’ve done a good job, they will.
A modern customer journey by nature is dynamic and creative marketers ensure their message is intentional, connected and represents a consistent story regardless of where the customer enters the path.