The customer journey has become a critical focus for communicators, yet it remains mostly elusive. Marketers have no shortage of data to sort through to make conclusions about how customers discover and buy their products, and location data is increasingly becoming a more necessary component of this data mix.
A new whitepaper from next-generation location intelligence firm Cuebiq, Completing the Customer Journey: The Importance of Location Data in Mapping Online and Offline Consumer Behaviors, explores the role location data plays in helping marketers to map customer journeys.
David Cooperstein, former Forrester analyst and founder of consultancy firm Figurr, authored and led the research effort for the report. From his analysis, he provides four recommendations to marketers to overcome the challenges of mapping the customer journey:
Consumer journey shouldn’t have an end point
The beginning of the customers’ journey starts before they are customers. Marketers must learn how customers find out about their brand, which channels and campaigns led to the most loyal customers and which channels yield customers with the highest lifetime value. Once markers know how customers find their brand, they need to make sure to continue to understand where their customers will go and how they’ll get there.
Remember customers live in multiple channels, often simultaneously
Customer journey mapping across physical and digital channels is no longer a nice-to-have for marketers. Customers don’t divide their digital and offline lives. Marketers need to continuously map their whole journey across channels to better understand customer activity.
Use location data to update how customer journeys are mapped
Customer journey mapping in digital channels is a fairly straightforward, but flawed exercise. Marketers must know how customers spend their day – both when they are online and when they are not – to map and manage a more holistic customer profile. To do so, marketers must choose the right source for location data based on how persistent and actionable the data is for making marketing decisions.
CPG and brand manufacturers should also understand where consumers go
Companies with a physical retail footprint need location data to tie activities like online clicks and in-store visits. The case is less clear for branded manufacturers, like food companies, automakers and apparel brands, where the journey is managed by the channel that gets the transaction done. However, location matters even when marketers don’t own the entire path to purchase.
Brands need to understand location and customer journeys as well. For them, the link between advertising and which channel was chosen for the purchase is key, as it empowers the shopper marketing teams to gain insight into how consumers chose to shop.
When examining marketers’ sentiment toward customer journeys, the report found that marketers need assistance in leveraging data. Most marketers surveyed still look at consumers’ online and offline behaviors as distinct journeys, rather than combining them together into one.
In order for marketers to get a more holistic picture of the customer journey, the report found that location data can help to fill the gap.
“Companies that use location data to understand and assess the path that consumers take throughout their day can create a very rich profile of how people spend their time. What do moms do before school lets out? Are school teachers on a set schedule, or do they work 3 days per week? The answers, when collected by survey, are as limited as people’s memories and the challenges of sampling error. But when the customer journey is mapped with anonymous data collected passively as they go about their lives, it helps marketers and executives collect the insights and learn how to be less intrusive, while respecting users’ privacy,” writes Cooperstein.
What’s your marketing type?
To help marketers better conceptualize how they can put customer journeys onto their marketing roadmap, Cooperstein categorizes marketers into five types, including: The Mad (Data) Scientist, The Promoter, The Brand Nurturer, The Always-On Marketer and The Channel Changer. Take this quiz to see what type you are.
“Depending on a company’s needs and business goals, marketers take different approaches when connecting with consumers,” said Cooperstein. “Knowing which type of marketer you are can help you more easily apply customer journeys to your marketing mix. For example, the Channel Changer can use their customer journey map to see the whole picture of their customers across channels, and develop signals for when a customer is in need or a product or service.”
Download the white paper here.
For this report, Figurr spoke to executives leading digital transformation, marketing, and customer experience across a range of industries. Interviewees from companies like Sprint, TUMI Samsonite and Sonic Drive-In provided insight into how they are constructing their customer journeys, and the work that they believe remains to be done. Third-party validation of data requirements for location data were provided by Kantar Millward Brown and Intalytics. Interviews and research were conducted in June and July 2017.