The explosion of digital technology in the 21st century has opened up an unprecedented array of channels and opportunities for brands to connect with their customers.
While this offers great potential for businesses, it also raises a question: how do you offer a consistent experience, with minimum obstacles and friction, across all platforms and touchpoints?
IDG Connect research, conducted on behalf of Siteimprove, revealed that modern marketers are fully committed to digital tools, but many admit to significant flaws in various aspects of their online presence.
So what can you do to step up your performance and deliver a fluid customer journey from start to finish?
1. Know your touchpoints
You can't hope to build an accurate picture of the experience you're delivering across your various customer touchpoints if you don't have a clear idea of what those touchpoints are.
It's not uncommon for businesses to fall into the trap of fixating on final buying decisions and the channels in which they're made, thereby neglecting the various other points of contact customers have with the brand both before and after the sale.
Studying your most common customer journeys from initial awareness all the way through to post-sale follow-up and support will allow you to deliver a truly comprehensive and consistent experience.
It’ll also make it easier for you to identify the most pivotal touchpoints along the way and to single out the most valuable sources of customer data.
2. Beware of gaps
To minimize the risk of the customer journey being disrupted or blocked, you need to know your gaps: points along the way where inconsistencies or lapses in engagement create a significant risk of the customer having second thoughts about the purchase and taking their business elsewhere.
Common gaps include:
- When a user switches between devices - for example, from mobile to desktop
- A customer being transferred from one department to another. For instance, if your teams don't have accurate data and insights, problems could arise when a lead is handed over from marketing to sales
- A user moving from one channel to another - for example, from a social media page to your website
Creating detailed, data-based customer journey maps will help you identify your gaps and minimize friction at these points.
3. Use data to understand your customers
Data is the fuel on which so many modern companies run. The effective collection, management, and analysis of information puts you in a stronger position to achieve a range of vital business goals, from identifying cost inefficiencies to boosting employee engagement.
Where the customer journey is concerned, you need up-to-date and accurate data to refine your understanding of your audience and their most common characteristics, goals, pain points and behaviors. This will help you build detailed buyer personas to make your marketing and other elements of the customer experience as relevant as possible.
The IDG Connect research for Siteimprove suggested that getting to grips with data is a common problem for many marketers. When asked about internal website issues that could have an impact on customer experience, a third of respondents said they struggled with poor data analytics.
4. Embrace automation
Automation is steadily developing into a vital feature of the marketing landscape, with business spend on tools in this area expected to exceed $25 billion per year by 2023.
While you focus on delivering a fluid and frictionless customer journey from start to finish, automated systems can drive efficiency and minimize wasted resources by taking on routine manual tasks, freeing up your team to focus on high-value activities like lead nurturing and buyer support.
According to the Siteimprove survey, the most time-consuming responsibilities for web experience and marketing teams are:
- Content maintenance and updates
- Site/page redesign
- Managing distributed teams
- Template development
- Data analytics
Handing some of these tasks over to automated systems can take some of the burden off your staff, allowing them to concentrate on optimizing customer journeys.
5. Work with sales
Many businesses could have a lot to gain from bringing marketing and sales closer together. In fact, research shows that aligning these departments can achieve 208% higher marketing revenue than those with misaligned teams.
Marketers whose main priority is to improve and remove obstacles from the end-to-end customer journey can engage with sales to deepen their audience understanding. Sales representatives can tell you the most common questions customers want answered before they commit to a purchase, for example, or the key goals buyers want to achieve by doing business with you.
Collaborating with and learning from other departments broadens your horizons, expands your knowledge and improves your ability to satisfy the customer.