Measuring the multi-channel customer journey

 
 

In a customer-centric marketing approach, behavior, preferences and the customer journey are crucial. However, at the same time marketers want to know the efficiency of the channels and media they use, certainly in traditional campaign models instead of more advanced, event-driven and touchpoint-oriented marketing strategies.

With today's channel-agnostic consumer, a fragmented buying journey and shattered media consumption patterns, it has become even more important to calculate the value of different (inter)actions, touchpoints and steps in customer journeys.

This is one of the reasons why marketers are increasingly looking at attribution modeling, in the end one of the methods in optimizing the marketing mix (although marketers and their industry partners often use different models regarding attribution). 

In order to measure the customer journey across several channels, both online and offline, and to value the role each channel plays, it's essential to focus on customer interaction/transaction data, touchpoints etc. in a more holistic and at the same time more personalized way.

As web analysts, for instance, know, this is also a matter of using the right data and 'speaking a common language' regarding the data that really matter. This doesn't only require the proper tools but also the traditional analytics success factors, people and processes.

And it requires frameworks that enable marketers to calculate on the overall journey level.

Analyzing the customer journey across touchpoints

In a recent report, Econsultancy asked marketers whether they had a framework for analyzing customer journeys that cross online and offline channels.

As Econsultancy says, having such a framework doesn't mean that all is well from an analytics, data and intelligence viewpoint. However, having one does indicate that at least there has been thought about the way data is collected and combined across the various channels people use during their journey - which obviously is non-linear.

Moving from such a framework to actionable data (or as Jim Sterne would call it, practical data), is yet another step.

Econsultancy found only 19% of respondents has a framework for analyzing customer journeys that cross online and offline. That's less than one fifth and less than in a similar survey in 2011.

However, all in all, the number is relatively high if you really think about it. In the end, many businesses are not able to measure what they do across several online-only channels, with disconnected systems and most of all, disconnected processes.

So, when adding online touchpoints to the equation, it gets even "harder," at least in the perception of many marketers and most of all, regarding the organizational issues within businesses and processes. The good news? There is ample opportunity for improvement regarding cross-channel and journey-oriented measurement, even if you start on a smaller scale: online. 

Focusing on great customer experiences

However, there is not much time left for businesses that still have to do the exercise. The reason is simple: by defining the frameworks, processes and tools that allow them to look at touchpoints and the overall journey, organizations are forced to look at that journey.

In practice, this often leads to improvement from a customer experience and marketing optimization perspective. In other words: doing the exercise and focusing on the customer in analytical processes, often boost returns as such, even before the benefits of good customer-centric analytics kick in.

So, why the need to get started fast? Because excellent experiences are what today's customers - openly - demand and because the number of touchpoints simply has grown with changing rules regarding your role as a marketer and the control of the consumer over his journey.

Web analytics expert Stephane Hamel replied to the Econsultancy post, saying it is easy to blindly "market" and a lot harder to be a good marketer. I can only agree.

Attribution modeling and - in general - looking at the customer journey and touchpoints from a more holistic perspective is not that hard. However, it does take time and effort, a cross-channel and customer-centric view and most of all, the organizational consensus and ability to work together on processes, goals, data, insights and optimization. Time and effort are two things customers deserve and appreciate.

More on the Econsultancy report and data here.