Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. Without them, you would have no sales, no revenue, and no reason to keep going. Marketing is all about creating connections with customers. And the best way to make these connections is by providing them with personalized customer experiences. In an experience-business world, if you're not focused on creating compelling customer journeys, you're missing out on a huge opportunity to create better experiences and increase loyalty. In fact, 86% of consumers are likely to leave a brand they were once loyal to after only a few bad customer experiences. In today's real-time world, customers expect brands to anticipate their needs and desires and meet them in the moments that matter most. By focusing on customer journeys, you can do just that. So how do you go about creating customer-initiated journeys? There are three main ways: use customer and business-initiated events, leverage real-time segmentation, and turn your traditional segments into signals to feed powerful journeys. Let's take a closer look at each one.
1- Use customer and business-initiated events
One way to create compelling journeys is by using customer and business-initiated events. Customer-initiated events are those that are created or driven by the customer. They can be anything from visiting your website or mobile application, calling your call center, stepping into one of your stores, signing up for your email list, or making a purchase. By identifying these events, you can create journeys that will automatically take your customers into a path of decisions to respond to their engagement to complete a business outcome while delighting them at every turn. Some of these customer-initiated events and journeys could be:
Event: Customer initiated a check-out process on a retail website -> Journey: After a period of inactivity with no purchase, the customer automatically enters a journey where they would be exposed to several timely cart abandonment tactics with the business objective to make them transact on the products they left behind.
Event: Customer who expressed interest in home refinancing is nearby a bank branch -> Journey: The proximity event triggers a local bank branch journey which in this case will engage the customer on the opportunity to talk to a home refinancing advisor.
Event: Customer who purchased a trip on a travel-specialized mobile app -> Journey: The purchase decision triggers a journey to guide the customer through a series of events leading to the day of travel to upsell them to additional products such as hotel reservation, travel insurance, and rental car.
On the other hand, business-initiated events are events initiated by the company and can help create personalized customer experiences. For example, real-time journeys can send notifications about promotions and product updates or provide shipping information. This will help improve the customer experience and increase loyalty. Some of these business-initiated events and journeys could be:
Event: Product replenishment on a retail website -> Journey: After a company restocks its products, a journey is automatically run to alert customers who expressed interest in these products but were out of stock at the time. This journey will aim to re-engage with interested customers and help them on their path to purchase.
Event: A sports team scores a point -> Journey: A sports company airing games on its mobile app would run a real-time journey to alert its fans/customers to watch the replay. The brand's objective is to increase visits and fan engagement within the app.
Event: A weather advisory in a region where an insurance company has coverage -> Journey: Using this event, the company will automatically run a journey to alert its regional customers with important information on how best to protect their lives and material assets. The objective is to ensure customers are safe and informed of what they need to do in case they need to reach out.
Using customer and business-initiated events, you can create tailored journeys that meet your customers' needs and desires. This will help you improve your customer experience and increase loyalty.
2- Leverage real-time segmentation
Real-time segmentation is a powerful way to create customer experiences that are relevant and timely. By analyzing real-time customer data, you can identify segments of customers who share common behaviors and preferences. You can then use this information to send them customized messages and offers relevant to their interests. Real-time segmentation becomes a powerful tool when consumers qualify for segments in real time. Qualification happens as customers meet defined criteria to either enter or exit segments. You can use customer data for real-time segments, including location, behavior, preferences, transactions, and business events, such as the previously outlined ones. Some of the real-time segments and journeys you can think of creating could be:
Segment: A customer hitting a loyalty tier threshold -> Journey: The new loyalty tier journey will automatically trigger and inform the customer of their new loyalty status and all the perks they now have access to. This journey aims to keep customers informed, valued, and loyal to the brand.
Segment: A customer browses a product but doesn't convert -> Journey: As customers show interest in certain high-value products but disengage after a while, a remarketing journey triggers to recapture customers' attention. This journey could use channels such as email or push notifications or activate customer data to social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
You will improve the customer experience by using real-time segmentation to ensure they always get the most relevant and timely information. It will also help increase loyalty by providing customers with valuable, personalized content.
3- Turn your traditional segments into signals to feed powerful journey
Many businesses still rely on traditional or static customer segments to power their customer experience. Static customer segments are created by analyzing historical customer data to identify patterns. Once these segments are created, they define who customers are and what they could be offered. However, this process is no longer feasible in the era of real-time customer data.
The challenge of traditional customer segments is that they cannot keep up with the pace of real-time data. They are not able to change and adapt as customers' behaviors change. As a result, they offer a limited view of customers that does not reflect their current interests and needs. Static customer segments also fail to consider the ever-changing dynamics of customer behavior.
To overcome these challenges, I still think there's a path where traditional segments can play an essential role for companies that wish to transition to more real-time and impactful customer journeys. These segments are often used in traditional campaign management processes where the same message is sent to many customers simultaneously. This mostly happens for product launches, newsletters, breaking news, or other communications where personalization is not a top priority for brands. However, I think you can still use these kinds of campaigns but immediately apply a couple of important steps to move away from this inefficient process:
Listen to your customers: Although you are not personalizing your messages and running them based on static, non-real-time segments, I suggest you start collecting customer behavior immediately after you send your campaigns. Do customers engage with your communications? Do they unsubscribe or enter a conversion funnel? If so, do they transact on the product you initially promoted or on something else they saw on your digital properties? Do customers are more engaged on specific channels? Are they coming to your store as a result of your campaigns? These are just examples where you need to know the answers. This information will be critical to understanding what your customers want and expect from your brand.
Assign your customers to journeys: Now that you have real-time data about how your customers behave, although they were initially part of static segments, this is the moment you need to use this data and move your customers to more personalized and meaningful journeys. With this method, you will shift your engagement strategy from traditional segmentation to leveraging customer and business-initiated events and real-time segmentation.
Customer and business-initiated events are important for understanding customer behavior. You can assign customers to more personalized and meaningful journeys by leveraging real-time segmentation. Turning traditional segments into signals will help you feed powerful customer journeys. This will ultimately improve customer loyalty and your bottom line.
When creating impactful customer-initiated journeys, one size does not fit all. Each brand is different and will have different business needs. However, you can make a real impact on delighting your customers by understanding the real-time nature of your customer data and making a few adjustments to how you currently engage with audiences.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you implemented real-time segmentation in your customer experience strategy? If so, how has it worked for you? Share your experiences in the comments below.