Thursday, October 04, 2012

Understanding the Customer Journey

Why are analytics important?
For merchandising and channel operations, a transaction is the end goal - either the purchase or delivery of products, or the sale of products.
For marketing, the transaction is where their work begins.
The above quote came from a recent research report among retailer marketing executives conducted by RSR and highlights why marketing is a different breed of animal.  Marketers are paid to change history, or at least improving the odds of a consumer choosing the products they're charged with growing. 

As such, marketers are in the business of influence.  And to do that they must understand how consumers come to buy a product or service in the first place.  Today's shopping experience consists of a myriad of ways and places that might lead a consumer along a path-to-purchase.  And those paths are probably very different across the major marketing campaign objectives.
  • Acquire: how do people become aware and put us in the consideration set?
  • Retain: what convinces them to stay with a brand?
  • Migrate: why are they willing to give us a larger share of wallet?
  • Convert: at what point do they consider themselves loyal?  how do they show their loyalty?
  • Win Back: given they have a history with a brand, what entices them to return?
In a digital world where everything is interactive, all of the above happens pretty much haphazardly.  In fact, the path-to-purchase is only evident in hindsight via the breadcrumbs consumers leave behind. 

To provide structure to this fragmented landscape, it is helpful to think about four specific things a marketer can leverage.
  • Touch Points - where along the path-to-purchase is the decision made?
  • Content - is it brand stories or promotional offers that trigger the decision?
  • History - how does previous experience with the brand change the way decisions are made?
  • Social - what role does influence and self-expression have on the decision?
These questions are precisely the kind of things analysts get excited about.  We are adept at breaking complex things like the consumer journey into composite parts in order to understand them.

Because, if we understand we can influence.

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