Optimise every moment – shedding light on the customer journey

optimise the customer journey

It’s getting more difficult to defend yourself form the competition

As we move deeper into the age of the constantly connected customer, mapping the customer journey against the tried and tested buyer behaviour model has become increasingly desirable and difficult in equal measure. As the number of touchpoints expands, so too does the degree of collaborative interaction between customers and influencers. These touchpoint disruptions are fast becoming a make or break factor for even the biggest budget campaigns.

Being a brand with a big reputation can provide a degree of protection from the dissipative effect of the lurking review, comment and troll community patrolling the depths of cyberspace waiting for any sign of weakness. Perversely, some of the review, comment and troll fraternity often produce better content than the so-called experts in the creative agency teams. Despite our understating of the role word of mouth plays in the process, we are ever more at the mercy of the critical unboxing video star who now, for legal reasons, is obliged to pay for the object of their derision themselves or fess-up to being a partisan affiliate in the pay of mammon.

The classic buyer behaviour model for B2B, includes: Identifying a need, developing a product specification, searching for products and suppliers, evaluation of product and suppliers, preparing to place an order and post purchase evaluation of product and supplier.

The comparable buyer behaviour model for B2C includes: identifying a need, looking for information, checking out alternative products and suppliers, purchasing decision and living with the product.

In place of every comma in the two paragraphs above, you can insert a full-blown search, social, comparison, review site breakout into the process. To make matters worse, the process can take anything from minutes to, in my experience, 2 years to complete. As the time to completion factor expands to accommodate our developing obsession with digital haggling, the number breakout opportunities grow exponentially. There is research that shows 50% of online purchases take more than 19 days. 19 days during which the competition can and will get in the act.

So what are we to do when the going gets tough?

Should we, as the marketing industry would suggest: spend more on strengthening the brand under illusion that loyalty is what it used to be?  Should we focus on shortening the customer journey itself in the hope that momentum will leave customers little time to think, collude or be distracted? Not unless you want to throw more good money after bad. Perhaps we need to invest in the fact that we have to optimise our search, social and content marketing in unison and more efficiently than ever before. To do that, we might need to make the connection between search in all its manifestations and the mobile platforms that creates the perfect data, testing and optimisation trail with its associated in-the-moment opportunities.

There is a mutually dependent and infinitely exploitable link between content, anchors, social media engagement and Google’s PageRank algorithm.

The bottom line is if content can be searched it can be optimised.

If it can be optimised, it can be developed to generate higher ROMI. This is especially true when useful content is generated, optimised, shared and socially or virally propagated on mobile in order to help customers solve the problem of the moment. That’s real time completely attributable interaction that by default generates the most valuable data imaginable: context, time, location, transaction and personally specific to the nth degree.

The type of insight derived from this real-time data output, means that we can see a direct connection between, for example:  ads show during a prime time TV show and resulting sales on mobile devices – both laptops, tablets and smartphones. Actors in some famous American shows are now working as subliminal clotheshorses for fashion houses. Product placement will become a fast developing trigger factor in brand activation in a world where dual screening has become a part of evening and weekend life. Retail therapy sessions bring us into contact with POS content that triggers an instant response. Even the daily commute brings us into reach of, games, eBooks, news services and travel information sites, sandwich shops and for come poor souls – the bookies. All this, in a year when mobile traffic will outstrip that of desktops and the Weve mobile project shows signs of becoming a workable tool.

Back on my automation and content soapbox

The problem becomes one of working out how to change landing page content on the fly to work around the content in the TV, retail, commuting environments and walk to work connections. If you are going to be in the NFC moment – you really need mindful marketing content. Sounds like a lot of work and a mission impossible ask for your old agency relationship. In the always-on world, customers won’t wait while you brief the agency for an update/customised campaign. One solution is to use the agency to develop pre-propagated and infinitely variable content that an automated content deliver system can adapt on demand depending on search trigger stimulus. How much better if the system was driven by a learning algorithm that thinks and acts like a human but capable of making and auctioning a validating decision in milliseconds. A process that will be totally transparent and commission-free to the client because they won’t need an agency or broker acting as a commission-hungry intermediary getting in on the act once the campaign is loaded and activated. It will be a brave new world but one driven by real-time insight and iterative optimisation at the speed of light. Light that will illuminate the darkest corners of the customer journey.