Use Analytics to Uncover the Buyer’s Journey

August 31, 2016
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Marketers should shift their thinking to a realistic right-channel, right-time approach.

Laura is the mother of a newborn and, like many mothers, felt strongly about providing her baby the best, most nutritious food options available. Her challenge was to research, find, purchase and repurchase nutritious options, with far too many choices, conflicting advice and amid the chaos of parenting a small child. The chaos spanned from diapers to Cheerios, and even when she felt certain about her choice, she then had to navigate when, where and how to get it at the best price and greatest convenience. Laura’s experience provides the perfect illustration of the power, and predicament, of customer journey analytics as it relates todigital commerce and marketing.

“The shift in thinking from the laudable but unattainable goal of multichannel, real-time marketing, to a more realistic and scalable ’right channel, right time’ approach underscores the need for customer journey analytics and a data-driven approach to defining ‘right’,” noted Jennifer Polk, research director, Gartner for Marketers.

According to Ms. Polk, there are five steps to analyzing and acting on the customer journey for digital commerce.

They consist of gathering customer data, connecting customer data, analyzing data for insight, visualizing the journey and activating insight. The first two speak to the fundamental challenges of understanding the discipline such as identity matching, disparate datasets, lack of dedicated tools and difficulty choosing the right tools. Successfulcustomer journey analyticsrequire a solid foundation around these two early stages.

Gather customer data

Start with a solid foundation of relevant data from various systems and locations. Systems include CRM or lead management systems, campaign management platforms, web and mobile analytics tools, tag management systems, data management platforms (DMPs), customer service logs and call centers, surveys and point of sale (POS). Data will be located across first-, second- and third-party data sources, with some sources providing real-time data and others delivering data in batches.

Once you’ve identified sources,map the full data ecosystem for available customer data, permission to use the data, data quality and data normalization needs.This can be an overwhelming task, so approach it strategically. Identify and prioritize events along the path to purchase. Gather and analyze behavioral data around those events. Because customer journey analytics spans channels, touchpoints and devices, the critical next step is unifying data across marketing, sales and customer experiencesystems.

Connect customer data

TheMaster Audience Profile (MAP) is the key to connecting customer data. MAP is a top-level data store that concerns all people of interest— customers, prospects and audiences. The MAP assigns a unique ID to each known or unknown user to create a privacy layer rather than linking all the data using personally identifiable information. When working with a MAP, seek three specific types of connections:

  1. Offline and online interactions
  2. Customers across devices
  3. Customer profiles to marketplace data

Danone’s Nutricia brand provides a powerful illustration of how customer journey analytics can help mothers like Laura. Nutricia focused on the needs of mothers from expecting through the toddler years. The analytics team evaluated customer interactions across the brand’s website, mobile app, digital marketing, events, point of sale and contact center. The team used a foundation of relevant customer data to activate audience segmentation, testing, personalization and optimization, and achieved a 24% conversion lift in digital commerce.

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