How do you optimize customer journeys in the experience economy?

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How do you optimize customer journeys in the experience economy?

by Horizontal CX Strategy


Technology has flipped the traditional customer journey on its head. In the past, marketers looked at customer journeys as a linear path. Touchpoints were limited and fairly straightforward. Like pawns on a chessboard, customers trudged through the four stages of the buying process: awareness, engagement, consideration and purchase.

Today, customer journeys have more entry points than a corn maze. It’s anything but linear. Customers interact with brands across a wide range of channels, jump from screen to screen and get influenced by Google reviews and Twitter opinions. According to Salesforce, 80% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

To lay the groundwork for a great user experience, you need to architect an omnichannel marketing strategy that accounts for the ever-increasing number of purchasing touchpoints. This starts with understanding the customer journey and how dynamic it has become.

Less Friction, More Personalization

Every time a brand creates a new great experience, customers expect every other business to raise the bar and deliver that same level of service. Thanks to Amazon Prime, free two-day shipping is no longer exceptional—it’s the norm. Thanks to Airbnb, it’s easy to book an apartment that ticks your boxes for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.

Customers know a good experience when they see it—and they can just as easily spot a dud. While customer expectations have never been higher, today’s brands are lagging behind their customers’ journeys like a hiker with a sprained ankle. According to Sitecore research, the majority of customers are being served the wrong experience:

  • 96% of respondents had recently experienced poor personalization.
  • 70% were frustrated by irrelevant online communication.
  • 57% experienced brands that used incorrect information.
  • 54% experienced brands that made inaccurate assumptions based on data gathered from a single interaction.

Many brands have a mountain of customer data on their hands, but they don’t have the right strategy in place to interpret it. In the past, marketers used journey-mapping rules and micro-segmentation to understand their market and personalize their experiences. But in today’s evolving digital landscape, this approach has become complex and difficult to scale.

To stay ahead of the pack, you need to understand the data you have on your customers and anticipate their needs ahead of their decision points. A great customer experience empowers customers to switch between any touchpoint at any stage in their journey without a hiccup.

Integrate Your Customer Data to Glean Insights Customers judge a company or brand by the sum of their experiences and expect every interaction to be friction free. To deliver on that expectation, companies need to achieve a single customer view by aggregating all the data they have across every customer touchpoint.

For many businesses, customer data is spread across various channels—service data in one, web browsing and behavior data in another, sales data in a third channel, etc. Siloed data prevents marketers from gleaning actionable insights on their customers. Without a single customer view, companies stumble when trying to deliver the exceptional experiences customers have come to expect.

You need to drill down to the ground level to analyze each customer interaction—information they disclosed during the sales cycle, marketing collateral they’ve downloaded, events they’ve attended, etc. Unifying data and building a 360-degree view of your customers allows you to use past behaviors to better target and personalize future interactions with your customers.

Only 47% of marketers say they have a completely unified view of the customer.

 | State of the Marketing Report, Salesforce Research, December 2018

Brand Loyalty isn’t Dead—But It’s Diluted

The experience economy has made customers more fickle than ever before. With an endless array of options available on the internet, customers are more than willing to ditch their go-to brands for alternatives that are cheaper or offer better selection. According to Criteo, 28% of consumers abandon loyalty schemes without using the points they’ve accumulated. What’s more, 54% of loyalty accounts are no longer active.

But all’s not lost. Turning customers into brand loyalists is still possible—and many companies continue to gobble up market share. To convert and retain today’s customers, you need to align your marketing strategy with your customers’ wants and needs.

One way to stand out is through your brand values. In the U.S., one in six customers stopped buying a brand because its values weren’t aligned with their personal beliefs. And 51% of customers said their purchasing decisions are affected by a brand’s values.

To generate awareness, you need to meet customers on the channel they’re at. In the U.S., Facebook is the #1 discovery channel for new brands, while websites are #2. On these channels, personalization and relevance makes all the difference. 60% of customers said getting a personalized discount from a company helped convince them to make another purchase. In addition, 48% of customers like online ads that help them discover new products, while 37% like online ads that remind them of products they’re interested in.

In today’s world, customers call the shots. But with a forward-thinking marketing strategy focused on personalization and integrated data, you’ll be in a great position to leapfrog your competition with friction-free customer journeys and user experiences that raise the bar.

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