Friday, June 28, 2019

Marketers: Your Customer Journey Isn’t Linear

When I was listening to Scott Brinker’s (HubSpot, ChiefMarTec…yes, that Martech Supergraphic) episode of the Mobile Matters podcast a few weeks ago, he brought up a really great point that I’ve been reflecting on. I’ll let him share the sentiment in his own words:

“I think we want to be careful with leaping to the assumption that personalization is actually what customers want. Because in a lot of cases, what customers want is an easier, better buying experience. And that isn’t necessarily about personalization.”

It reminds me of an experience I had recently when I was going to buy some software to add to our tech stack. I had already talked to quite a few people, I knew what type of software I was buying, and I had researched some of the other competitor’s options. I had honestly made my decision already without ever talking to that company! So, I went to their website and submitted a request for pricing, and one of their reps reached out to me wanting to set me up with an initial call and then a demo. 

It was an “ah-ha” moment for me as a marketer, because from a marketing standpoint, they were doing everything right! It was a typical inbound process flow. But now that I was the consumer, I was realizing how hard this vendor actually made it to buy from them. I literally had my credit card in my hand, ready to purchase, and they were making me jump through hoops before I could buy.

This got me thinking about how we as marketers need a mindset shift when it comes to the customer journey. For years, customer journey mapping was a hot topic, and almost every marketer I knew was talking about how they do it or how they plan on doing it. But, the customer journey really isn’t that simple anymore–not simple enough to be reduced to a linear or “infinity loop” visual, anyway. Take my buying journey, for example; I didn’t even talk to the company until I was ready to buy, and I wanted to skip right to pricing and an order form. But it wasn’t that simple! And I don’t think there’s a customer journey out there today that lends itself to that path. 

But isn’t that our job as marketers? No matter how many twists and turns the customer takes (and there are going to be a lot in this multichannel and multi-device world), we need to be prepared to meet them exactly where they are with exactly what they need. The customer journey is never linear. 

So, this leads us to the question that I encourage you to reflect on with me: how can we ensure that there is a clear and easy path to purchase at every touchpoint in our customer journey? This might mean adding a “request an order form” CTA to your website if you’re a SaaS company, or making sure your digital ads lead to a seamless mobile commerce landing page if you’re a CPG brand. No matter what your product is or where your customers are, it’s something that you absolutely must think through.