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What Does Google look for? Search ranking factors 2013 (infographic)

I just found a great article by Ayaz Nanji in @marketingprofs.com about Google search algorithm. Mr. Nanji states: “Increasingly, websites that appear at the top of Google search results are those that tend to have a high number of social signals, such as likes, shares, tweets and plus-ones, according to a recent report by Searchmetrics. The study, which was based on an analysis of 300,000 URLs appearing in the top search result position in the US, found a particularly strong correlation between signals from Google’s own network, Google+, and good rankings.” 

Here are the main findings from the analysis:

1. Keywords

The importance of having keywords in the domain name or the URL has lost significance—mainly because of two algorithm changes by Google in 2012.

However, the importance of keywords on the page itself, as well as the relevance of the keyword position in the title (the closer to the front, the better), have increased considerably.

2. Good Content Is Still King

Content factors correlate almost entirely positively with good rankings and were found to be even more important in 2013 compared with 2012.

For example, good ranking URLs generally have more text and a higher number of additional media integrations (images files, etc.) compared with 2012.A good internal link structure also appears to be an important quality attribute.

3. Brands

Google does not seem to apply the same criteria for the websites of brands as for other domains.For example, the search engine considers it natural for brands to have comparatively more backlinks with the name of the brand in the link text alone.

Here’s more in an infograph format:

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Beyond HBR’s “truth about customer experience”

Harward Business Review just published a great article about Customer Experience and Journey. See here. The main point of the article is, that managing single touchpoint engagements doesn’t provide sufficient customer experience.

HBR - Truth about customer experience

My advice is: Don’t design just touchpoints – Design chain of events, proactive and reactive. Development and measurement is often done engagement by engagement. The service design approach also highlight such emphasis. I’ve done Customer Journey mapping and methodology development since 2004 and agree with the article, only it’s lacking tools and methods how you should approach the challenge. I can help with that.

I’ve written an article series about customer journey management and you can choose and pick, which areas you are interested in or read them as a series of articles:

  1. Customer Journey FLOW
  2. How to map and study Customer Journey
  3. Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform
  4. Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation
  5. Customer Journey stag 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

In order to really do Service and CX design for the entire customer relationship, you need to understand that there are very different journeys to begin with.

  • Purchase journey (From awareness to consideration and transaction, Acquisition)
  • Service journeys post purchasing (Using the product or service, value-in-use)
  •  Planned (e.g. Address change, regular maintenance etc.)
  •  Unpredictable (e.g. Product failure, reclamation, insurance coverage, etc.)
  • Delivering a service as a customer journey (taking a cruise or flight, restaurant, using media, etc.)
  • Retail customer journeys (e.g. IKEA store experience)

Once you have both Insight and Topsight level understanding about customer journey in full, you need to take a look inside the company. What organisation bodies are involved with customers, what kind of technical environment direct their operation and what kind of data steers their actions. The reality is, that management reporting practices represent management understanding and decisions. The systems and technical infra on the other hand define how the corporate body acts. In case you need to change the way how the corporate body in total behave, you need to define required technical changes, change management and manage change. In my experience, creating Service Blueprints has been quite effective tool for both challenge recognition at current status mapping and Customer Experience planning.

The potential is absolutely amazing. The customer’s expectations are constantly growing harder to fulfill and companies that are agile enough to cure “Corporate Autism” and take the steps required to move from “inconsideration marketing” and mass mailings to service automation, Customer Experience and Journey design at total relationship level, can win marketshare and increase profits considerably. The business-as-usual approach is no longer sufficient, you need to free the full potential an organisation can offer and tear down silos in order to take advantage of synergies available.

In the big picture, your company must act professionally and fulfill minimum requirement perfectly. Failing these requirements cause criticism and decrease your NPS results. Acting human, being considerate, thoughtful and proactive on the other hand increase the number of people willing to recommend you and increase you NPS score. Succeeding in both cumulate earned trust, which is the foundation for long-lasting and profitable customer relationships and strong brand.

creating customer loyalty and trust_improving NPS

In case you do well, the process will enable you to design lean processes and define the best possible value your business processes can possibly deliver. In my opinion this is the Future for CMO’s position inside the company. It’s not the job for CMO’s to define business process management, but it’s the CMO’s responsibility to make certain that everything the company does, delivers maximum customer value and experience across all customer interfaces

Customer interface reach & effectiveness

In case you can capture customer contacts, you can start servicing and inspiring customers individually and simultaneously your capacity to influence increases. The bigger share of the customers buying in a certain category you have in your database, the more effective means you have to influence their behavior and market dynamics. The ultimate goal is to synchronize customer portfolio with product and service portfolio across all touchpoints and marketing interfaces.

customer portfolio_customer touchpoint & marketing portfolio_product and service portfolio

In my experience the only way to do successful customer journey and experience design and create sustainable management model for it is to do the work upside-down. You start from the actual interfaces, motives, contexts and people. From there you continue inside the company culture, practices and technology and design the strategy level after you understand everything else. Like this:

Bottom-up strategy and data analysis

The Holy Grail of customer value is Symbiosis. Check Symbiosis Strategy – creating the ultimate value  -article here.

This is a video by on Sep 12, 2013, It’s All About the Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer, Toinen PHD

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join The Future CMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Choosing and Buying – Cross-channel influence

We first started the development of cross-channel customer behavior analytics methodology – One Experience in 2004. The original insight about channel development was about clear conflict between companies channel development practice and customers actual behaviour. Companies used to develop each channel individually. Very often each channel has still own channel responsible management that is developing that individual channel to the max. Also the benchmarking was done against competitors channel and the goal was to be better than the competitor. There’s nothing wrong with anything described above unless it generate blind spots and steer companies to invest in development that doesn’t actually support customers and create value for them. The rule of thump is that you should constantly consider effort vs. gain from customer perspective whenever you are developing or changing something.  When doing Cross-channel customer behaviour studies we learned that in some cases companies channel strategy and customer’s needs and expectations were not aligned and the channel strategy actually hindered sales.

Many brands have a long and successful history of servicing their customers thoroughly in a single channel.  Kirsti Lehmusto (former CMO of Finnish retail company Stockmann and colleague from Taivas, now CMO for Helsinki University) recognize the retail store management, contact centre services and distant sales services with catalogues as methodologies that have created great financial success by concentrating in excelling in the customer experience in a single channel from beginning to the end.

Channel management 1_single channel optimizationIn the current 24/7 economy and world of digital influence it is even more important to understand that in current world customer’s move accross channels and create service strings that fluently move customers from one channel to another according to their preferences, drivers and motives. It is important to look at these service moments in each channel and optimize them to help the customer further to his preferred next step.

Channel management 2_cross-channel behaviour

Service and product ranges don’t have the same meaning for customers and people are not quite as interested in everything. In the article ”Customer Decision Making FLOW” there’s more about how the decision-making about a certain FMCG goods and brands like Coca Cola differ from buying a magazine subscription, taking a mortgage or buying a motorcycle. The following gives an outlook on general learning’s about stages in various businesses.

Let’s dig deeper in to stages: Browsing, Configuring, Deciding, Buying and Post-Purchase.

The two stages before these are: Brand-as-a-platform that you can read from here and Initiation, you can read here.  (I would recommend reading them, before going further to choosing and buying journey below). Also check out how to run customer driven business design development here.

Browsing

Browsing is most often about learning, simultaneous process of exploring your own intentions and interests, and actively considering what kind of solution would be perfect for the customer. Customer has mental goals while doing this. He’s interested in certain facts, has drivers guiding him further while exploring. Not all factors are created equal. These things define customer’s mindset & motivation. (We must not forget, that people are emotional by nature and we need to understand what people are feeling while they are browsing and learning and help them feel good about the brand we are promoting). While doing this, customers use information sources that are both interactive & instructional. On-line services, product reviews, friends, catalogues, retail stores, contact centres, agents & brokers. Some of these touch points can be led by the brand, some can’t. Some of the touch points have more meaning than others. The important thing is to understand what the customer is trying to do, which touch points the customers use and how did the touch point fulfil customer’s expectations.

Customers who have no prior experience about buying products and services in certain service or product category are more likely to browse more thoroughly and consciously. Also, people who are more price sensitive tend to do more work in browsing and all other stages in general. There are two underlying reasons for the Journey driven emphasis and strong browsing

  1. Customers are curious and actually want to know what options are most interesting and
  2. Customers are worried about making bad decision and try to learn more in order to avoid mistakes.

In many cases both reasons are meaningful.

Some businesses are naturally interesting for customers, like travelling and cars. In these businesses learning about products, services and prices can be considered as entertainment. Coffee table discussions and other people’s experiences are also an important part of the decision making process. In this kind of categories visits to the stores and actually seeing the products are also considered entertaining and fun. If people are busy and don’t just go out and see products for fun they are more likely to actually go and see what they are considering in configuring or even in purchase stage after making the mental decision to buy. The trend though is that companies have less and less face time with customers enabling persuasion. Cross channel marketing is more about steering customer forward and selling by supporting their choices than actual selling. Pulling instead of pushing.

In business-to-business customer journeys browsing is about looking for potential service providers for further negotiations. Managers and entrepreneurs looking for service providers ask other people’s opinions, look online for potential companies and potentially even use a professional consultant to find best possible potential service providers.

When defining sub channels for Browsing stage our experience is that it’s better to use broad descriptions of the touch points and ask about customers experience and what kind of information had most meaning for them. In browsing it is impossible not to talk about search engines in the current digital environment. Customers often have pre-decided brands and options they are mostly looking at. However, they also look for other people’s experiences and use search engines while looking for information. Even if the brand or product would not be known and on customer’s shortlist, search engine advertising enable capturing some of the customers. The more entertaining and positive context the buying is about, the more likely people are to click and learn about options they didn’t know existed. Travel is a great example of such business. In travel people are happy to give their email and contacts to travel agencies, cruising companies and airliners just to get more entertaining ideas and travelling inspiration from them. In less entertaining businesses too, it’s possible to capture customer’s contacts and call back later. When I built a house and was looking for materials, contractors etc, it was obvious that the browsing was often done in the middle of the night and an opportunity to leave contacts and get a call next day was considered as good service.

In less interesting businesses people often skip browsing or do it in-store at a shelf. FMCG businesses represent such business in which people don’t search information or find out about options outside store. Browsing is likely to be done at the shelf comparing contents and prices. If customer does this once, he’s not likely to stop and think next time. Once decided, customers easily create habit and non-considered re-purchases. This doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do anything though. Some companies have created wildly popular recipe clubs and services that offer inspiration in a format of recipes instead of individual products. One of the best examples is Valio’s Cream Club which cost 18€ as annual subscription price. This program is nothing but marketing and branded content. Still, people consider these recipes so inspiring that they are prepared to pay for a membership which makes this marketing program practically free for Valio even without product sales. If your product is not interesting as such, people could still be interested in the context your products are used in enabling branded engagement.

Configuring

Configuring can be exactly that, e.g. using a car configuration online in order to learn which kind of combination would be most suitable for me. The name of the stage comes from mass-customisation vocabulary (Jarmo Suominen, professor for Masscustomization (MIT/UIAH) had strong impact on the original theory development). In configuring stage customer has most often chosen the brands he wants to learn more about. Often it is about negotiating with potential suppliers about the price or contents and terms of the offer. The difference compared to browsing is that in browsing customer often is learning and more open to possibilities. In browsing, he’s also often anonymous visitor online or in store. At configuring customer is engaging actively and has more defined decision making criteria. He’s looking for the best deal. Configuring is also about letting some options go in order to concentrate on the best potential choices. It’s equally important to know how people define which brands they want to continue with and understand what kind of tools and information sources people use in order to rule out some brands. The car configuration tools are a great example of that.

Case: We studied 500 professionals who had chosen a leasing car as their car benefit provided by their employer spring 2010. The study proved that 18% of all buyers used car configuration tools to decline brands before going to test-drive or asking an offer for the car. It’s actually rather logical. When customers start building their dream car they easily come up with a solution that is too expensive for them. Also, the car configuration tools give a price before any discounts. As a result customers start dropping out options they had chosen in the first place and suddenly the whole experience is about giving up on things the customer would have liked. Eventually the brand loses the appeal it had originally. It is absolutely certain that every car brand’s research prove that customers require openness in pricing and giving as much information as possible online. However, optimisation of sales and driving people further in their journey is sometimes different from what customers demand. Direct marketing has proved this decades ago. Customer should not get a figure online that he could consider as an offer unless you are selling cars online and actually give a real offer for the customer. In majority of car selling the customer should only get an offer from car seller and enable the car seller to show the qualities of the car in person. Emotional and rational influences are often a mixture creating desire to own the car. This desire requires certain level of engagement, which improves the probability of closing a deal. Car configuration tools’s role is to enable dreaming and bring the customers to the store.

In business-to-business and major consumer purchase decisions the configuring stage is often about a meeting with the salesman or other representative in order to define request for an offer. Online e-commerce and opportunity to buy abroad is just another way of servicing the same need. The buyer wants to know and learn about the service providers or products capabilities, background, cases and discuss about the qualities of potential solution. Very often the first engagement with the service provider also allow buyer to evaluate what kind of feeling the service provider left in the first engagement. Word of advice from previous cases is, that it’s more important to ask than present at this stage. In people businesses customers want the company to concentrate on their needs and solve them. It is important to show interest in customers needs and show how much you care about their problem. Human behaviour is about trust. The seller’s first priority as a contact person and representative of his company is to understand the brief and create trusting and caring connection to the buyer.

Decision

Was there a specific event or incentive that led to decision? If yes, what was that? Whether or not there is an offer, the people still evaluate offer or stimulus against their perception of the brand, the company and the product. Customer has certain motivation, drivers and resources that guide him. From which retailers did the customer ask for an offer. What prompted the decision?

In some cases customer know that they should buy a new product in order to replace the old one but they just don’t recall doing so or lack motivation or ability to do it. In these cases we talk about ”pending purchase decisions”.  Offer in store or discount advertisement could act as a trigger. In smaller purchases just seeing the product is the trigger. In other cases there could have been long-lasting interest and consideration but no action. In cases like this the customers have been interested and wanted to buy for a long time but were not able to do so or lacked justification. Discount advertising is very effective trigger in these cases. People could wait for a long time for the products price to come to the acceptable level. The discount has two-fold triggering effect

  1. The price can be considerably lower than normal
  2. The offer is there for a limited time or there is only limited number of products at that specific store resulting feeling of hurry and justification. It’s now or never!  Limited number of products is a message that increases sales never mind how many products the store would actually have in storage.

In TV-shop commercials sales increased when customers were told: ”If you call, Prepare for holding online or use SMS for ordering”. Just saying some other people would also buy the product was justification enough for more people to act.

In technology businesses like wrist-top-computers measuring pulse and other training factors, mobile phones and entertainment gadgets the prices come down after some time due to rapid product circulation. If the products become ”most wanted” like iPod and iPhone did, declining pricing eventually reach tippin’ point driving products to move from most wanted to market dominating products. Following the own brand’s and competing brand’s customer journeys and preference, enable recognising and preparing for such events.

Another very important thing is to track competing brand’s actions in this space. Competing brands could send offers by mail; use out-bound telemarketing to help (read: push) customers make decisions right away. Proactive decision supporting and triggering could result a lot of lost business unless it’s detected and acted on.

In business-to-business cases and major consumer purchase decisions the decision stage has to do with comparing offers. It is smart to take the time and present the offer face to face. Face time often increase trust and represent dedication. At best the presenting of the offer means evaluating and considering it aloud. Customer has a change to ask questions and make certain that they understand what exactly the offer means. The first meeting with a salesman was about first impression and the next about how well does the contact person meet expectations and is he trust worthy? How well has the contact person taken customers wishes in account and what kind of pro-active propositions there are in order to better meet customer’s goals. It all comes down to trust eventually. Price is a subjective issue in most cases, not an absolute measure. Higher price just require more trust and better justification than lower price.

Purchase

Where did the customer purchase? Purchase channel and location give new information for analysis when looking back at the customer journey. Customers could have purchased from certain store brand, specialist store, online retailer, catalogue sales company, by phone, by calling to contact centre. It’s important to track which player was the active contacting party a) customer b) competitor.

Purchase channel send a message about customers decision-making dynamics too. In several cases the customers behaviour has been very online centric in every other stage but purchasing. Online channels are very effective in offering information about the products and services but often customer rather purchase from store, individual contact person or contact centre rather than online. Why is that?

Our learning has been that it’s most likely an expression of insecurity and pure need for human contact confirming the decision. People want to call, possibly bargain a little, but most importantly they want to feel secure that they are doing a good deal and they will not feel sorry for it after. In retail products customers could go to buy in retail store in order to confirm their decision by touching the product and experiencing it live or they want to get it with them right away. Visit in the store could be inevitable in many cases but there are risks.

When we were developing One Experience methodology we did some multi-client researches in order to develop the methodology. We found out that while Fujitsu-Siemens had 22% preference rate, they sold 35%. Their sale was roughly 50% higher than their brand preference would let expect. In the further analysis we found out that majority of sales people working in stores preferred Fujitsu-Siemens laptops and often owned one too. Of course the same apply in case of trade promotion offering sales people extra for selling more Fujitsu-Siemens. However, in this case there was no promotion but it was natural for sales people to recommend Fujitsu-Siemens.

The reality is that when people have been looking for a solution, product or service they would like to buy, they are actually still rather open for influence at the very last stage. When people get to know offering they often come to conclusion that certain product is both possible for them and they feel comfortable about choosing it. Once the customer comes to a store and the premium product is in discount, the customer is likely to change his mind in that instant and buy the premium product even if it was still slightly more expensive than the one the customer came to pick-up. The same phenomena apply when customer engage with store personnel. The professionals in store can raise insecurity in customer’s mind or recommend something other than the customer was going to buy. Often the customer’s goal for the discussion in store is meant to confirm customer’s own thinking. Still, often it results alternative outcome depending on the advisors training, experience, opinions and incentives. Brands have very different variation in the level of determination in their buying. Strong brands, which have a “love” relationship with buyers, are much harder to persuade to some other way.

In the same Laptop study we found another interesting phenomenon. There were dramatic differences between store brands in which customers went to see the products and where they actually purchased them. The conversion rate from visitor to buyer was at best 66% and at worst less than 30%. The two biggest retail brand conversions were a) 29% visiting and 9% of sales and b) 23% visiting and 6% of sales. These two brands dominated people’s visits but they didn’t dominate sales. Retail conversion rate optimisation would have dramatically increased these retailers market share and it shouldn’t be too hard when they already have people coming to them.  41% of customers told that the sales person influenced their decision and in 23% of cases they reported sales persons opinion had important role. 39% of customers only went to visit in one store. Still, many of those people purchased online.  Currently many customers consider stores as showrooms and look for the best deal online.

RECENT DEVELOPMENT AND TRENDS

The rise of online channels and social media’s role in customer journey has increased information available for customers. Social media has enabled and encouraged communities and discussion forums in which people share experiences of different products and services. This change has diminished the role for sales people in many businesses and created disruption in former Customer Journeys. In the world of 3i, that is high interest, high involvement and high investment product and services, people’s know-how about the products and services often exceed the level that sales people have in store. The customers are increasingly becoming specialist in what they are buying. They are also actively using this knowledge as social capital. People enjoy their position in their own community and sharing increase their role as a valuable member. Peer-group’s respect is often very effective motivator that activates discussion and participation.

The customers are also increasingly interested in companies’ practices and values. Several brands have suffered major image setbacks due to child labour in their production, environmentally indifferent attitude and any ethically questionable actions. People become more and more conscious about their consuming,  effects of their choices and the products and services are no longer enough. People also need to feel good about their choices.

The trend that is shaking the corporate mindset is transparency. Brand, products and services, pricing, quality and experiences are all available online. Customers trust each other more than the brands specialists even if they don’t know each other. Transparency means that companies need to be just as good as they say they are or better than they have promised. Search engines are the best enablers of transparency democracy.

Post-Purchase

Once a customers have made a purchase and started using the product or service they are often likely to talk about their experiences. Word-of-mouth is a major influencer in many businesses and sharing experiences spontaneously online has multiplied the word-of-mouth influence. Another important thing to consider is that web does not forget easily. When customers start looking for information about the product or service online, they use search engines. The highest scoring links are the ones that have been clicked most often, have external links directed to that specific content and so on. This means that the highest scoring content could be several years old. It is very important for brands to stay in touch with customer’s satisfaction and recommendations.

Analysing the outcome

As customer journey designer I was very interested in learning about the customers decision-making dynamics from beginning to the end. In order to optimize that you first need to understand what is happening. We came to conclusion that the best way to effectively show what happened was to break the conversion analysis in three: Won, Kept and Lost business. To make it more meaningful we broke further to three dimensions: before buying, what happened in the original groups and what was the outcome. Here is an illustration of one case. This measure is called Business Dynamics Score (BDS)

 Business Dynamics Score

Of those 42% who originally preferred the brand 95% were kept and only 5% lost. Of those 28% who originally preferred competitor 70% were converted and only 30% were lost to competitor. Of those who had no preference 88% were converted and won. Only 14% were lost. The outcome is that from this company’s target group they won 46% of sales from competitors, 40% of their sales came from those who originally preferred them and they lost 14% of their reference group’s sales to competitors. In this case the sample the data was collected from customer buying this service at certain frequency and in this case some of the customers had purchased competing brand after the most recent purchase from the brand that was studied. This finding helped further in recognizing how much business is leaking from the brand to the competitors and why.

This way of looking at the customer data also reveal where the brand is making it’s sales. Of people who originally prefer the brand, how many actually buy it in the end. Of customers who prefer competitors, how many the brand is capable of winning. From customers who have no preference but only rather equal options, how many of them actually buy the brand in question. While capturing data, this same comparison also work very efficiently in analysing how competitors win from the brand in question and what can be done about it.

In order to finalize the big picture, it’s also very educating to see which brand the customers consider was second best after the purchased brand if any. Being second best means that the brands success was good but something still turned the customers head and led to lost business. If your brand is very often the second best, it means that it is not too hard to make major improvement in sales.

Of the full Customer Journey – this article was about the third slot – Choose and buy, Check out the first two stages:

Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform

Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation

Also see Business design with customer centricity

Managing customer interfaces – marketing do-or-die

and How to Map and Study Customer Journey

Customer Journey

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Business Design.. with customer centricity

Here is my presentation that is about Business Design and how you lay the foundation of business development and value generation on customer journey and diminish the complexity to understandable and measurable insights and practices to marketing, operations and R&D. Recognition and simplification is the way to go and insights come from that. I’ve just landed back to my roots and start Business Development consulting which is really about customer and total marketing driven corporate transformation. That’s why it was relevant to take a look back and make a fusion from past to current.

I came to conclusion that past was already right – but required a lot to learn in order to develop the understanding and methods further.. Even if your theory and concept were perfect – making it a practice and a reality takes a lot of sweat, consideration, trial and error, right context, position and organization. However, enjoy. This material was better than I remembered (I was a founding member at Taivas Business Design and OneExperience planning director before my assignment as marketing architect at Toinen PHD and starated Future CMO transformation consulting and coaching in Jan 2014). 

WHY THIS ONE EXPERIENCE FAILED TO SCALE INTERNATIONALLY?
One Experience was a cross-channel behavior analytics tool and methodology we at Taivas Group started developing already back in 2004. Professor for Masscustomization Jarmo Suominen (MIT/UIAH) contributed to the theory and framework tremendously in the beginning and I led the project turning the ideology in to OneExperience online platform. This tool was extremely advanced back then but also represented a Utopia as practice. It turned out the tool was not viable back then due to siloed ecosystem which made it totally impossible to distribute and scale globally as a SaaS planning platform. Combination of qualitative and quantitative studying methods and total planning approach delivering insights about customer interfaces, brand status, distribution channels and product/service qualities it was impossible to integrate in WPP organisation and scale with Ogilvy Group, JWT, RMG, G2, GroupM, MillwardBrown… Why? We talked to everybody and they all loved it. Well, you would have needed to involve crm, online, advertising, promotion, creatives and media planning from separate organizations and align all their efforts for unified practice and goals. The same applied to client organizations. CMO’s at that point were more brand and advertising directors than true business drivers with full marketing spectrum and integration to operations.
That.. well.. was utopia in 2007 when we launched the tools.  We did good in Finland where we were a single team working for clients in Finnish culture with low organization hierarchy enabling collaboration directly with CMO, board of directors and business managers responsible for operations. We did great results but could not turn OneExperience in to international business as such.
The world has changed over the past five years.. This change is now reaching the tippin’ point. Perhaps we are closer to that Utopia now.. or are we? This change involves every one in the ecosystem and everyone inside corporate management. This is what we are now trying to do at ToinenPHD in Finnish scale. Is the world ready for scaling this kind of Total marketing approach and Customer Journey driven ideology in to practical daily work. Are CMO’s and the ecosystem ready for it now? Is it possible to make Utopia a reality?
SEE ALSO:

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

Managing brand – the most profound KPI’s and their impact

Brand as a roadsign

If your brand was a road sign and didn’t have context, emotions and expectations attached to it, it’s like there was no sign at all and the road to destination wouldn’t look comfortable or secure. If the sign does have a meaning for the customer but you are trying to sell something that is out of that world, it’s likely that you face difficulties creating interest, demand and closing deals. Brand extensions are not an easy game either and you should be prepared to work a long time to change and expand your brand perception before making money. Brand can be associated with very narrow specialty or more generic qualities. However, brand is not brand if it’s not recognized and it doesn’t stand for something. Virgin is a great example for a branding of attitude and founder’s mindset more than specific product or service range or Apple, which has done usability and design profile along with technology. Technology isn’t why people pay more for Apple than PC though. You can become a mini brand having all qualities of the brand in smaller area or niche business and then expanding that area. That’s the most likely way of actually succeeding in brand building profitably. (Check another article: Brand as a roadsign)

Real brands can emphasize optimisation of buying when they are considering customer journey. People pay attention to their signs and are likely to consider them when choosing a solution from the brands context. It’s about keeping the customer’s attention and closing the deal. For labels, it’s about selling.. and selling cost money. No one will buy a label unless it’s much cheaper or someone actively sells it to the customers. This is a major challenge when trying to penetrate a market and getting your product or service noticed and approved. Gillette is a great example of using brand as a defensive force. When new brands have tried to enter a market, Gillette has issued 3 at the price of 2 offers and stuffed people with their products for a year resulting zero sales for the newcomer.

The most profound brand related KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that influence the customer journey and commercial success most are:

  1. Awareness
  2. Top-of-mind
  3. Preference
  4. Brand perception = attributes that translate as customer perception of context, value and personality
  5. Liking

Brand awareness

Brand awareness, spontaneous and aided, are profound figures. A roughly acceptable brand heuristic is that awareness often equals trust. If the brand is well-known, it is likely to be considered and trusted also. However, there are eg. Car brands that are very well-known but don’t have appeal resulting sloping sales regardless of their brand awareness. If the brand is un-known it doesn’t exist in customer’s consideration and therefore has no way of making major sales without very pro-active sales activities or increasing the awareness of their brand. Even if a customer would notice the brand, he is likely to ignore it.

Top-of-mind is a figure telling which brand people first think of, when asked to tell which brands they would consider. In many cases top-of-mind is very important. Especially, in fast-moving consumer goods and e.g. Phone services in which people call to ask for advice. 911 must have almost 100% awareness and a top-of-mind position in order to be able to help people when they need it.

Preference rate could be considered as a GPS device that takes the driver to the right destination. When you are driving with a GPS on, you don’t actually pay attention to alternative options and act on the directions the GPS is giving for you. Strong habit and strong preference rate have very similar behavioural influence. Preference is often asked from customers before they actually initiate buying process. It’s a measure telling what brand people think they would most likely buy. It’s an important indicator of brand health and should be treated that way. It is a meaningful KPI figure. However, it can also be misused. In most brand-tracking cases that we have seen people have been told to choose the most preferred brand even if they didn’t have one. We have allowed customers to give none as an answer. No preference combined with potential brand options has been a very efficient way of capturing business dynamics. In some businesses we have analysed 76% of customers had no preference but a majority had three brand options that were equally good in customer’s eyes. There is no GPS to consider in those markets. No preference percentage gives a meaningful indication of customers consideration but it requires from the tracking that it also track brands that customer consider as option for the most preferred brand.  If the brand you are working for is not in top three as a preferred brand or is not considered as an option, your brand doesn’t exist in the customer’s consideration. The very first thing to do in case of any business is to become considered! If you are not considered, no one will buy you unless you sell the brand in actively.

Let’s consider a practical case in travel for example. TNS and Kantar Group are offering national and international studies that have very large sample size and concentrate on customers’ perception of brands, their most recent purchases and lifestyle. In case of travel you can share customers to roughly three groups:

  1. People preferring your brand (Lower distraction sensitivity – driving on GPS)
  2. Neutral customers, who consider you as an option along others (no GPS) and
  3. Those who wouldn’t even consider you or would certainly not buy

Based on such data, mostly used by media agencies for their clients, you can tell how many people are in each group nationally, what have they purchased most recently and what are they like, demographics, lifestyles and behavioural preferences. Having this knowledge is a great eye opener and really supports management work in defining priorities and how to engage with people. Behavioural differences between preferring customers and neutral are very important. Considering sales the ratio of preferring customers is around 2/3 most recent purchases and in case of neutral customers around 1/3 or less.  Customers who are neutral let all competing brands to their consideration and check all available offers or use comparison platforms, which narrow comparison and democratize brands to same level of information. In such environment brands lose their opportunity to create unique experience and services in a meaningful way. Preferring customers on the other hand come directly to company’s website or directly contact their customer service and thus allow direct service experience by the brand.

BRAND PERCEPTION

Brand perception has to do with people’s heuristics of the brand. What the brand means for them? What is it related to? What is the context? In different businesses there are clear factors in brand perception that have a clear connection to sales. Such factors could be eg. Trust and security, technically advanced, great design, cool, fun, high quality, leader in trends, most durable, etc. In each business it is important to leverage qualities that influence decision-making most and stay in touch with the market and what kind of qualities drive it. The change of drivers could be fast and profound like it was in case of Nokia. Nokia is no longer the most appreciated mobile technology brand it used to be. Apple’s iPhone and Google Android are shaking the business profoundly. Understanding which attributes drive sales, marketshare and preference should guide the priorities in brand development.. in all customer interfaces and communications.

BRAND LIKING

Preference often require conscious consideration, comparison and decision making. It is best suitable for product and service areas where you make “bigger” decision. Liking is more subconscious and spontaneous emotional reaction to the brand. Liking could also be the first step to preference, an opportunity to become noticed and considered.

Liking the brand is a figure that has become more and more important due to digital influence. You can have high preference without liking because of superb product price/quality without being liked very much, but liking the brand has direct influence in preference even if your qualities were not quite that superb. There’s more to liking though. People have more currencies than the content of their wallet. They can speak their mind, write blogs, rate your product, influence your search results or offer you very important feedback or ideas for improvement.

Brands cannot be “created” one way – it’s the people’s perception of a company or product. Brand is no longer a noun; it has turned in to a verb. You could actually think brand as an agreement between a customer and company. Customers can agree or disagree with the agreement, resulting a perception, which could be good or bad. However, a brand cannot exist without the other party. Brand is social by nature. Still, a brand has never been as social as it has now become because of social media and online influence channels that customers are now very effectively and actively using. Customers have real power now that is global, not just local peers. No doubt that customer behavior has changed. It has completely changed in many areas and will continue doing so. Digital influence is the biggest disruptive force along the customer journey.

In current automated communications and self-service oriented world where customers are made responsible for servicing themselves there are many practices that don’t really support brand’s emotional development. Majority of companies consider customers as mass medium, measure “cost to serve” and try to push cost down, build loyalty programs that ask you to buy more and show loyalty in order to get higher discounts and benefits or offer time based commitments as agreements for discount. It’s very much a world of rational thinking. Rational is good but also neglect customer’s social currencies as value. You could call this approach “the indifference marketing”.

In social mediums people interact with their peers. It’s often, but not necessarily, a private space. In this space a brand could gain enormous value if customers would accept it within this context. A customer has enormous social capital. He can judge the brand as stupid or embrace the brand and support it. Customers are actively using their capital and they are getting more and more effective tools at their disposal just to practice this capital to the most. For example WOT, Web Of Trust, crowd sourced trust-rating of websites and brands has currently almost 60 million people rating brands and websites. Any people who have WOT application in their browser has reputation score visually presented after every single link available online.

WOT is a wonderful example of customers’ currencies becoming more and more influential. WOT is an ultimate rating tool. If some company act unethically, spam, or in any way prove not to be trustworthy, >30 million people in WOT start giving red to the brand . As an outcome, company’s online reputation score will become lower and eventually red. Red means, that if you try to enter the company’s website, you get a full page size warning stating that other people have rated this site to be dangerous and not trust worthy. Would you do business with such a company?  How likely are you to do business with a company like that has bad trustworthiness?

Social influence online has an enormous steering power. As people treat brands and companies as entities anything and everything the company does also influence their trust rating. If a brand is misusing child labour or employees, has unfair practices, questionable ethics or doesn’t respect environment, it shows in their trustworthiness score. Customers currently rely very much on other online users feedback, even if they are complete strangers. As companies have noticed that people love to rate products and brands and are interested in comparing them, new companies and services emerge constantly. The power is moving a way from institutions like traditional mediums, which have made product reviews and thus defined which products sell and which don’t. Currently smart brands are turning customers to their ambassadors and creating same effect, only it’s completely dependent on people, the customers, which make it feel very interesting and trustworthy.

Currently customers are taking the ultimate power and becoming sellers them selves by turning blog pictures in to online retail channel with Kiosked –service (kiosked.com). E.g. A fashion blog can sell every single garment or accessory represented in photos appearing in the blog. People are creating their own audiences and creating their own image by blogging and making their bellowed products available for followers and readers. Brands are just chips in customers’ games, which they can endorse or decline. Again, liking the brand is the number one thing driving such endorsement.

Liking influence all currencies the Customers have:

  • His personal detailed information
  • Promise to record purchase history (loyalty card)
  • Decision power to all his own purchases
  • Freedom of speech and opinion
  • His own time
  • His personal peers and personal status amongst them
  • Endorsement
  • Own creativity, experiences and ideas.

Of all the currencies above, I argue that most are not rationally driven and liking the brand influence them all!  You can’t tell people to tell others they love your brand or tell them to recommend your products and services to others. Also, you can’t expect people to help you make your products and services better unless they do it with their own free will. It’s all about liking.

The most advanced brands have understood that these emotionally driven assets could prove to be extremely valuable and find ways of harnessing them. Open innovation and customer boards are great examples of just that. The good companies will win. Forget about the Adam Smith’s invisible hand, it’s become very visible and very effective. Blogs, ratings, discussion forums, Twitter, Facebook.. It’s written all over the digital canvas.

SEE NEXT:

How segmenting 3.0 changes marketing and management https://futurecmo.org/2016/03/16/segmentation-3-0-disrupting-marketing-media-and-management/

How to take advantage of Brand’s position very fast with Behavioral Economics Making millions with pennies – Behavioral Economics approach

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

The beginning of customer journey – Initiation

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The customer comes to a crossing and stops because the brand successfully engages with him or something changes in the customer’s situation. In most customer journeys there is a defining moment when a person gets actively interested in buying, initiated. That moment can be identified rather reliably. Something makes a person actively start considering about buying something. Active purchasing consideration does create memories because it’s done.. well, actively in your conscious consideration. Active consideration could take years in some cases or it can spark purchase spontaneously. Depending on the category, differences are huge but also within a single product group customers’ behaviour have vast differences. In many smaller decisions the consideration is less profound but still, when ever you are breaking a habit or really considering about doing something, you can recall doing so when specifically asked about it. In fact the customer is the specialist in his own experience and we can learn from him. Best way of getting to know the dynamics and learning about the reasons for people to get interested is by doing one-to-one interviews. Interviews are actually for discovery, expedition trip to customer behaviour and drivers, differences and variety. Group discussions easily make people indicate rational behaviour although it was not. We would suggest one-on-one in-depth interviews or questionnaire before a group discussion asking person’s own thinking. In the group discussion some of the key findings could be thoroughly opened. This kind of approach enables capturing human behaviour more reliably.

There is a methodology in Psychology called Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (The Psychologist, vol 18, No1, January 2005) It has been developed for analysing people’s lived experiences. The methodology avoid making assumptions and does not test hypothesis. The person’s experience should be recorded as authentic as possible. They are done in one-on-one meeting. Interpretative means that the researcher looks for things that are distinct (i.e. idiographic studies), but will also attempt to balance this against an account of what is shared (i.e. commonalities across a group of participants). Researcher reduces the complexity of experiential data through rigorous and systematic analysis. Analysis relies on the process of people making sense of the world and their experiences. I use this methodology in Insight interviews and then create quantitative study based on these findings in order to quantify which phenomena has most meaning and can these phenomena related to specific business and brand be segmented in some way or result difference between segments and brands.

The best way we could come up when working on One Experience cross-channel buying behaviour mapping tool, was to start with one-on-one interviews and learning about the people’s reasons to get initiated in the first place and continue to map out the cross-channel purchase behaviour.

The initiation of the active consideration is often a result of certain drivers and motives in certain context being prompted to active consideration by certain touch point in certain channel. These reasons, channels, motives, contexts and drivers should be recognized and quantified in different target groups. They are the very foundation of profitable marketing operation.

You can roughly divide reasons to initiate in commercial and non-commercial reasons. Commercial reasons have to do with advertising, direct marketing, outbound telemarketing, retail, point-of-sale promotions, sales people and so on. Non-commercial reasons have to do with magazine reviews, word-of-mouth, actual need because of losing or breaking the old product, tradition based behaviour (e.g. in travelling every year at the same time), change in a living situation (e.g. moving) and so on.

Further, initiation can be divided in initiation in general and initiation to the brand. Initiation in general is about how the customer became interested in acquiring certain product or service in general and these reasons are often non-commercial when asked from the customers directly. This is not completely true because something has created the need in the first place. That’s why it’s also important to ask about their initiation to a purchased brand. Becoming initiated to certain brand is more likely to be commercial. In most cases you can narrow these reasons to a few major ones per segment. This information will help you decide where and what to do in marketing. How to effectively reach people and how to choose the message and content in most appealing way.

The Apple iPod is a great example of a product, which had  ”a long activation” period. The iPods were originally too expensive for many people who would have loved to get one. After some time, the price of the iPod reached tippin’ point, level which enabled most people to get one. At that point iPod rose from most wanted niche product to dominant brand. The MP3 format, iTunes and making CD digitization easy were the enablers of MP3 revolution. ITunes and buying music online were Apple’s strengths. However, the product design and user experience made it the most wanted brand and later on dominant market driver leading the way. Currently it has been predicted that when eye surgery costs come down to the level of 1500€, people choose surgery over new classes. Markets could change profoundly and rapidly.

We have learned from several cases that the brands often don’t know why and from who’s initiative customers got activated. In one case our client, advertiser, was wondering why their demand had suddenly increased dramatically and they made record sales without doing anything specifically. This company had very effective sales process delivering superb customer experience and consequently very high sales conversion. After running customer journey study for them we found out these people were originally activated by a competing company, which had launched a major direct mail campaign. The product was expensive and people wanted to take another offer just to be certain. This incident delivered record sales for the competitor. It’s likely that the active brand also sold more than in average but it’s absolutely certain that they also lost major part of their potential sales.

When you are concentrating on customer perspective you are simultaneously doing very effective competitor benchmarking and learning from their success too. In best case the competitor becomes your best salesman without knowing about it. You can also learn from competitor’s success.

In retail store you can roughly share products in two categories: must have and nice to have products. These products life cycle could vary greatly. In one CPG case that we analyzed we found three most common patterns in getting initiated. The first one was planned. People wrote on their shopping list that they will buy this product. The second was buying in stock when the product was in discount. The third was the biggest one… People who had made a mental note they should buy the product. However, this product was not in the priority list, which resulted ”pending activation”. These people were activated to purchase by just seeing the product in store or seeing an offer about it. The major sales increase for promotion was due to the fact that they had promotional spots that prompted people’s attention and activation by just being there. The sales would have increased even if there were no discounts because people just forgot to act on their decision. In many cases there is latent behaviour that must be recognized in order to optimize profits. There’s no need to offer major discounts if just being there does the job or offer smaller discount or on-top offer in order to justify the extra visibility in store and also activate stock buyers. It also has major indication in the media strategy. If the brand’s awareness and other KPI’s are in order, the most important goal is to have continuous activation going on generating faster re-purchases and increase in the market value. Depending on the product’s role in customer’s life there would also be possibility of creating CRM or social relationship management (SRM) approach that would keep customers active and engaged with them in product and service development.

Testing in the real environment is the only way to get a true business case

Making people move is a fundamental marketing goal. In order to optimize marketing effect, you must study, test and learn what kind of trigger and content create most response. You should also learn in which context or medium people would be most likely to act on the advertising and which interaction channels deliver best results. Consider, what is the role of your own mediums like website, retail or CRM. How can you leverage earned media like discussions online and press or other PR. Are there ways of collaboration with partners that would result synergy and low-cost leads? Where and how much should you invest in paid media like TV, print, radio, outdoor and online. You can manage what you measure and optimizing the mix takes a lot of learning, trial and error to make it right.

The second equally important issue is to learn where you should steer people post activation: online, mobile, customer service, retail or create a first action which help you support customer thru out the journey and purchase. Again, there are good learning’s available but each business is unique.

Consumers want to have control

Today’s consumer want to control the process of choosing and avoid being sold at. Pushing is irritating and considered as a bad customer experience. When customer has a medium in which there is a lot of choice he has the control. Customers choose what to concentrate on, and how much time they are willing to use in learning about product. Customers can choose to continue shopping online, in retail, mail order or to go and see the product live or choose not to do anything.

Advertisers have an opportunity to increase communications to own customers and creating own mediums in print and online. Previously marketing focus was mostly about finding new customers, although majority of the sales came from existing customers. Customer magazines and catalogues are part of customer loyalty, mobilisation marketing. The respondents consider the magazine or catalogue as respect of customers own space, time and consideration.

Buying is not easy

Marketers often assume that selling is hard and buying easy. For customers it is not easy to really understand the scale of offering and relevancy of it. At personal level they have ways of learning in their own time. Often the retail experience is too hectic and nervous for learning at own speed. Online services and catalogues allow people to have their own time and space. In one case outbound represented majority of initiation, but fraction of the transactions.  Banner ads are often judged wrongly due to this – people initiate but make transactions elsewhere.

Consumers consider concrete pricing, product pictures and good presentation of products as valuable service that makes buying easier. It’s easy to see for example how much catalogues and online travel advice decrease the need of personal advice from travel agencies and enable online buying.

The difference between emotional brand advertising with very little information and buying information sources is obvious.

Conclusions about Initiation

Initiation and getting activated is about prompting attention and making the person move. No matter how long there has been a latent interest, there’s always something that changes in offering, customers situation or the market that gets people activated. What is that, what is the motivation behind, what is the customer’s mindset at that point, which brands customer considers as options, which does he prefer if he does? Understanding this has a major influence in the overall marketing strategy.

In order to understand how customers are best reached it’s also important to understand the need of advertising and shopping consideration. For many brands there would be possibilities in helping customers learn about their value proposition by really making great product descriptions and photos for shopping medium use. Although the customers would not buy from these sources, they still learn from them. That’s free media that really hit the target. Brand’s own online service should be the source of ultimate information that really answer customer’s questions and engage with the customer resulting action.

When we were studying the different mediums capability to influence customers and how brands currently work, we came to conclusion that when brands are rapidly learning new, they are simultaneously forgetting old. Customer’s behaviour does change but when competing retail brands e.g. drop catalogue and go purely online, the other brand might gain advantage.

When measuring success brands should concentrate on how much did the advertising change customers perception of the brand positively, did the advertising justify higher price or increase the interest in wider audience with current price or did the advertising just activate people with discounts, which is good in the short run but could damage the brand in the long run. Which mediums performed best compared to the investment? If some mediums under performed was it due to the medium or advertising content? If you can answer all these questions post campaign, your capability to improve further is much better and you can actually predict outcome much better than previously which justify the spending.

What do you think? I’d love to get some comments :)

If you liked this one, check out how to manage customer interfaces and pre-initiation stage along the customer journey Brand-as-a-roadsign.

An article about the next stage in Customer Journey here: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

More advice about how to map and stury customer journey is available at https://futurecmo.org/2012/12/01/how-to-map-and-study-customer-journey/

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

How to map and study Customer Journey?

Customer Journey Mapping

http://www.servicedesigntools.org/tools/8

Generating and visualising the map is one thing, capturing data and understanding to generate it is another thing. I’ve done Customer Journey mapping and analysis since 2004 and learned a lot about the differences in methodology and their value. I’d like to share some of my experiences here.

The first thing to start with is to consider how you approach this task. I’ve learned that when the designer him self engage in customer journey mapping and research, the time spend in studying is actually effective planning time. Outsourcing this work to a researcher makes everything much harder. When you as a designer and planner are responsible for planning, you have a completely different idea about what to study and pay attention to instead of researcher.

I’ve learned that starting the work with qualitative interview really help in understanding what it is you need to pay attention to. In the qualitative interviews I have used methodology that has a name in Psychology: “Interpretative phenomenological Analysis”. See more from Psychology – magazine This approach thoroughly study customer’s lived experiences from their perspective. The point in this is, that you need to understand the whole big picture with different touch points, different brands and their content, value proposition and services. You need to see from the customers eyes and experience the market in full. Once you have studied 6-8 people like this, you will be ready to write quantitative study for those customers who have recently done the process or are currently in it. Here’s one sample story about buying a GPS navigator and about conflicting interests along the Customer Journey

How to divide the study in phases?

Customer Journey

Majority of the potential innovation driving information is easy to access in case you have a customer register. Considering other journeys apart from buying customer journey, each journey should be separately studied and measured post delivery. I normally study acquisition journey as one study from brand-as-a-platform to Choosing and buying and also ask about post-purchase satisfaction. Using is another study or it can be combined with re-consideration phase, whether people leave or re-buy. Loyalty as such is very much tied to using phase or experiencing the service, which is why combining the latter two would also be a good idea. Always study both won and lost customers. Especially the customers who were lost have a lot to give. By combining different customer groups you will have a better understanding how the market actually works.

If you don’t have a database in use, you can recruit respondents from a panel source with this brief. Depending on the business and brand, the company’s reach in the market place differ very much. If it is possible to find out the number of new deals customers are doing annually, it’s easy to calculate how many did ask for a proposal from you. Closed deals are calculated as conversion from proposals. There’s also hidden movement in companies data they are not aware of. For example customers that are members of your loyalty program also buy from your competitors. Every now and then it’s healthy to ask from current members what they have recently purchased in order to find out how to best approach them and minimize loss of sales and risk of losing members to your competitors. Recently lost customers got initiated for some reason too. How did that happen and why did they not continue their relationship with your brand.

Along with studying customers afterwards, it is very eye-opening to follow what they are doing and to interview them right after they have made their choice. This is different from mystery shopping, because the emphasis is on the customer, not on the store personnel.

The third important source of information apart from customers is your internal organisation working in customer interfaces like helpdesk, customer service, maintenance and sales. They know what questions are frequently asked, what challenges (product failure, need for advice, compatibility issues etc.) are causing most of the costs for the organisation. They are also excellent advisors when considering options how to solve these challenges.

Marketing research often looks into the future perspective and ask about awareness, top-of-mind, preference and shortlist of potential brands. These are all good measures and valuable, but intentional – and could easily lead you to a wrong direction unless you have other KPI’s (key performance indicators) and tools to complement them. The challenge about researching future is that people are quite bad at acting according to their own intentions. Habits, convenience and instincts drive behaviour to unexpected directions that are difficult to predict by research. These studies also often miss a major point. They ask customers which brand they prefer and make them choose one, and consequently fail to recognize the fact that people might have only brand options and not a specific preferred brand.

Example: In case 76% of the customers have a pool of options but they don’t have a specific preferred brand, it means that most of the market is floating. People only have options and consider brands as equally good. When the time comes the best or first/nearest/most conveniently available deal will win regardless the brand as long as the brand is within the pool of options.

When a customer initiates conscious consideration and buying, he’s often active. He’s making searches online, reading ads, discussing about his interest with friends and family, reading product reviews, asking questions from professionals and stores, visiting several websites and outlets, asking opinions and advice. Majority of this behaviour can be analyzed online or with research.

When the customer initiates this journey he’s in charge. At least that’s how he feels. That needs to be taken for granted. He makes decisions. While he’s in charge, he’s being influenced by media, marketing, brands, professionals, sales people,… Eventually the customer is quite likely to buy something he could not have imagined before actually entering the journey. He does the decision eventually but you can influence the choices he makes if you know how to do it. The mapping of the customer journey is composed of he following parts:

1. Touch points: mediums, services, personnel, re-sellers, physical spaces, online. 

Do you have control of the touch point or does a partner manage it? At what point of a customer journey is the customer getting involved with a certain touch point? What can you do in that moment and what are your goals and KPI’s? Can that specific touch point result in to an acquisition or do you need to direct the customer further? What kind of roles a single touch point has and how can you make certain all roles are played out right along the customer journey?

2. Service moments and context

What are the most likely contexts in which the customer engages with the touch point? What is he trying to do? How can you help him achieve that? How is that done? How could it make your product or service look more appealing or at best, a most likely option?

3. Motivation and drivers

Are the customers reaching out for you or is it the other way around? In what kind of mindset does a customer engage with your brand? What could drive him further instead of abandoning your brand? What are the conventions and customs in your business and how could you exceed customer’s expectations by breaking them? Are there other companies that have a similar logic to yours and could you implement their approaches, which already have a proven logic?

4. Decision making process

What is the customer’s decision-making process like? Is he doing it himself or using a consultant or services for comparison? Are there predictable qualities in customer’s selection process that would enhance your capability to adapt your organisation to the customer’s behaviour with right content, value proposition or services? How does the customer move from one stage to the next?

5. Triggers and Moments of truth (initiate/choose/drop/buy/attrition)

Where and at what point are the most important moments of truth defining the majority of your business success? What triggers them to decide or act according to your will? Can you trigger customer behaviour? How can you do that most effectively and which kind of approach result in best outcomes? Why do you win and what do your competitors do better if you lose business to them? How can you outperform your competitors’ actions?

6. Post-purchase satisfaction and recommendations

Would customers buy again if they had a choice? What is your Net Promoter Score Index? What were they satisfied about? Was there dissatisfaction? How can you improve your customer experience in order to earn higher opinion? Do your customers discuss about your product online or face to face? What are they saying? Are they endorsing your brand? Could you use their endorsement for others who are still considering it?

Customer Typologies by behavior

You can easily argue this is not the whole truth. Not all purchases are done like this, consciously working thru a cross-channel decision-making process and eventually buying something. That’s right. And that’s why we needed to create a model for defining critical customer journey models for different kind of purchases. Conscious cross-channel purchase journey is most likely in case of ”3i” purchase. That is High interest, -involvement and/or -investment product or services. However, the buying models and patterns are more complicated than that. Also the behaviour dynamics differ between products, service ranges and between same category brands. You can divide customer behaviour in three major types: Adventurers, Flyers and All-inclusive cruisers

Adventurers: Journey driven people are interested in the products and their qualities. You need to support their needs and change or influence their attitude in order to break in to their awareness. As they search and compare, you need to be able to justify to them why your solution would suit them and guide them to decide and purchase your product/service. These people really consider their user experience and share recommendations in case your performance is beyond expectations. Supporting their needs helps you to perform better with other people representing different behaviour type.

Flyers: Destination driven people also need to be influenced at “need and attitude” -level in order to create better awareness of your offering and it’s qualities. However, this is more about leveraging past reviews and feedback from journey driven people. Destination driven people are more likely to be influenced by e.g. Magazine reviews of your product or other independent sources of information. With such support you can just concentrate on tactical advertising in order to encourage decision and purchase making. Destination driven people are interested in the user experience and reviewing their own experience to others.

All inclusive cruisers: Public opinion driven people accept your offering when it’s widely used and they are completely certain that choosing your offering has no risk what so ever. It’s all about tactical advertising and encouraging purchase. They are not likely to share their opinion to others or recommend your products or services.

The share of each of the previous groups vary by product category and brand. The rules of engagement apply and they must be considered in the mapping too. These laws apply like gravity and this means  that same tools and methods in marketing certainly don’t apply to every case in the same way. Here is the rules of engagement map: a) Level of 3i and b) who’s the active party.

Customer journey rules of engagement

I know doing this kind of mapping sounds like awful lot of work, but I can guarantee that doing it is one of those things you celebrate most later on. Trying to compile data from different sources or doing this with qualitative interviews will deliver 70% right answers and generate innovation too, but doing it this way will give you more insight than you have ever got about your competitors success and failure, understanding the role of different channels and information sources and about market dynamics in general. This approach is a gold mine.

Well, there are a number of ways how to maps and document customer journey. They are all ok, but built for different purposes and they offer different kind of value. One great source of information for visualisation and internal/qualitative process is http://www.servicedesigntools.org/tools/8

What do you think? I’d love to get some comments 🙂

SEE NEXT:

Key questions when stydying Customer Journey

Customer Journey stage 1: Brand as a platform

Customer Journey stage 2: Initiation

Customer Journey stage 3: Choosing and buying – cross-channel influence

also check out how to manage customer interfaces

Author: Toni Keskinen, Marketing Architect & Customer Journey Designer

http://www.linkedin.com/in/tonikeskinen

Join FutureCMO Movement LinkedIn Group here

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