customer journey

One size doesn’t fit all

Create the best customer journey for each of your customers

As a business owner, one of your goals should be to develop great relationships with your customers. They should feel supported, informed and assisted at every step of their journey with you – from their first contact to becoming a loyal customer. A good customer experience means you can drive more leads through your sales funnel and reap the benefits of repeat customers.

The only problem is… this is difficult to do on a large scale. It’s hard to cultivate meaningful relationships with thousands of customers, without any of them feeling neglected or misunderstood. The key to consistently building a better customer journey experience than your competitors – on a large scale – is intelligent automation.

What does intelligent automation mean?

Imagine the kind of relationship you could develop with a customer if you gave them reliable and relevant feedback and information at all times. If you were able to anticipate their needs and respond to them in a personal manner you would soon have a loyal customer. They would feel valued and as if someone is going the extra mile for them.

The good news is that you can do this reliably and in great volumes without spending day and night responding to emails. To overcome the issue of scale, a digital-first mindset is required.

Digital functionality improves the customer journey

It may help to explain this via a real-life example: Think of a problem, such as how to respond to a customer who has not received their order, then multiply that by 1 000. It becomes almost impossible to imagine how to fix that many problems. It’s the same with opportunities. Multiply your potential sales opportunities by 1 000 – could you deal with that many possible leads simultaneously?

First things first – data is key

To scale your processes, you need certain data which can be automated. Once you have the data, you need to choose the right technology for the job. In marketing and sales, this often means using marketing automation software. Let’s start with the data. There are five important steps here:

  1. Discover and define
  2. Measure
  3. Analyse
  4. Design and build
  5. Validate.

Cumulatively, these steps are referred to as DDMADV.

Step 1 – Discover and define: 

The first vital concept that you must identify is your value proposition. What are you offering your customers and how does it benefit them? The typical customer has certain items that they want to cross off their to-do list, let’s call them “jobs”. These jobs are either going to sort out certain problems they have (pains), or they will offer a new benefit (gains).

Your customers are on a quest – either to solve a problem they have, or to acquire something that they want or need. It helps to think of their quest as a storyline, with highs and lows. At each part of their journey they will need different types of assistance or reassurance. If you can establish an emotional connection with them at crucial points of the journey, then your chances of converting them into a loyal customer are that much higher.

Who are your customers?

One of the most successful marketing approaches is the use of personalised communication that resonates strongly with a specific target group. If customers feel ‘understood’ by your brand they will be far more likely to choose your products and services. With this in mind, it is vital to consider market segments and buyer personas.

Market segments

  • Geographic – where are your potential customers located? How does their location influence their needs?
  • Demographic – this involves segmenting your market in terms of factors such as age, gender and income level.
  • Psychographic – this relates to the lifestyles, attitudes and interests of your prospective customers. If you can connect with them based on an interest that resonates with them then you have the basis for a strong relationship.
  • Behavioural – focuses on specific reactions and the way customers prefer to go through the buying process. For example, do they prefer to receive an email, a WhatsApp or a phone call.

Buyer personas

The creation of buyer personas takes market segmentation one step further by creating typical customers who would benefit from your products and services.

For example, you could create a persona – let’s call him William – who lives in London, is between the ages of 30 and 40, enjoys adventure sports and prefers communication via WhatsApp. Given William’s interests, location and communication preferences, you can create a specially tailored customer journey for him, which can then be extended to other customers who match William’s profile.

buyer personas improve the customer journey
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Once you have created a few buyer personas (make sure you create enough to cover most of your potential audience) you can develop a storyline briefing for each persona in terms of your marketing strategy or plan. This is very much like plotting a transport map of where you want to go and what stops you need to make along the way.

We use the analogy of a transport system as it is one that most people are familiar with. When you plan a journey, you find your starting point on the map and then work out the best way to reach your destination. There is almost always more than one way to get from point A to point B. The route you choose will depend on factors such as how quickly you want to get there, any destinations you want to access on your way there and your preferred route. Perhaps some trains or tracks are more pleasant than others.

The customer journey map is very similar. All customers want to solve their problems or meet their needs, but they will have different approaches to doing so, and it is vital that your business engages with them at each possible point on their journey by providing useful and relevant information for that specific stage. Once you have mapped all the possible customer journeys (i.e. the way that customers can possibly reach you), it is time to design your selling process. It’s important to note that the selling process is led by the buying process initiated by your customers. In other words, for each stage of the buying journey there is a relevant selling process at work.

At Inspired Marketing we use a sales funnel to illustrate this interaction.

  1. The potential customer becomes aware of your brand via advertising, organic content or word of mouth. At this point it is vital to attract their attention so that you stand out from other offerings in the market.
  2. The customer now starts to consider your brand as a purchasing decision. At this point it is vital to convert them by going the extra mile to meet their needs. If they are not adequately catered for (information, assistance, efficiency, answers to questions) they are likely to walk away from the purchase.
  3. The customer decides to go ahead with the purchase. Engagement is just as important at this point. They will need to be reassured that they have made the right decision. Follow- up communication is key.
  4. If you want to retain them as a customer, then it’s vital to stay in touch and offer them information related to future purchase opportunities. Based on what they purchased before, what else might interest them?
  5. The ideal destination in the customer journey is where they become a passionate advocate for your brand. This is very valuable to your business, so it is essential to connect with these customers on a regular basis. Send them special offers and personalised VIP communication. Make them feel valued.

Step 2 – Measure: 

In order to measure your engagement with customers it is important to set lead-scoring criteria. Certain engagements are more valuable than others and should therefore be prioritised accordingly. For example, if a customer visits your pricing page, then they are probably strongly considering using your services. They could therefore be allocated a high lead score. In contrast, if they have opened an email from you but not responded, then their lead score would be far lower. Possible lead scores are illustrated below.

lead scores help you to track the customer journey
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Using lead scores allows you to direct your marketing efforts to customers that are most likely to purchase from you, or are the furthest along the sales funnel.

Another vital element of the Measure step is tracking the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. Two popular ways to do this are via KPIs (key performance indicators) or OKRs (objectives and key results).

KPIs often follow a step-by-step process:

  1. Set an objective – for example, raise awareness of and interest in a new product or service.
  2. Measure your performance in achieving that objective. There are many metrics that you could use to measure performance, for example, your email open rate, newsletter sign ups or new customer inquiries.
  3. Create a strategy to address any issues and optimise the performance of your campaign, where necessary.
  4. Finally, evaluate your entire campaign to gain lessons to be implemented in future.

OKRs can also be a very useful measurement and tracking tool. This method takes an overarching objective and divides it into a number of key results. In other words, what results will provide evidence that you are achieving your objective? Each of these key results is then allocated a to-do list to achieve the result. In this way, the smaller actions at the bottom all feed into one unified objective at the top. This ensures that your day-to-day actions remain relevant to the ultimate goal that you are chasing.

Step 3 – Analyse:

Measuring your campaign data gives you essential insights into your processes and what your target audience is seeking. It also highlights any gaps that need to be addressed. However, closing these gaps isn’t merely an issue of moving in a linear motion from your current state to your desired state.

Often the real value lies in identifying a component of the gap and then drilling down in greater detail on the relevant issue. For example, if your email open rate is low, it would be worth exploring why this is the case. Do the subject lines need to be more enticing? Are you sending too many emails? Or perhaps they aren’t being sent at an optimal time of the day?

This approach (identifying the wide range of components in the gap and then exploring them in more detail) is known as the “go wide, go deep” T structure.

Step 4 – Design and build:

Once you have analysed the performance of your current marketing and sales processes you are ready to start designing and building your new, automated campaign.

At Inspired Marketing our campaign planning typically includes the following steps:

  1. Set up an overarching control sheet for the campaign (this includes SEO targets, planned content and a social media calendar, to name a few elements).
  2. Map your desired customer journey, using the market segments, personas and selling process referred to above.
  3. Create the content, ensuring that each item is relevant to the stage where it slots into the customer journey.
  4. Automate the processes. This is where the magic comes in. Essential and effective processes can be automated to run reliably in the background. This offers enormous value to your business and its future growth.
  5. Set up your preferred channels. These will differ for various personas and market segments, but the beauty of automation is that messages can be easily customised for different campaigns or preferences. This ensures that an optimal mix of channels runs in the background without any extra effort required from you.

Step 5 – Validate:

The final step before the launch of a successful campaign is to test and validate the various processes. Is everything working reliably? Do all the various channels and purchasing options run smoothly?

Once the testing phase is complete and you have approved the campaign it is ready to be activated.

Although it may be tempting to sit back and relax at this stage (all processes are automated, after all) it is vital to track and measure the performance of your campaign. Automation platforms have built-in performance dashboards that allow you to monitor your campaign in real time.

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You are likely to return to the five data steps (DDMADV) a few times as issues are identified, and new needs arise. The good news is that these steps will continue to improve the way you do things. The result? You are constantly equipped to create the best customer journey possible.


One size doesn’t fit all
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