Understanding the Customer Journey: Know More and Assign Proper Credit
There is a fascinating video of a presentation by Neil Hoyne (self-designated “student of the customer journey”, and Global Program Manager at Google) where he discusses customer attribution and how businesses should more closely measure, analyze and understand customer behavior to understand why some people do or don’t click, buy, or come back for more. While the conversation focuses on website performance and link tracking, the underlying message applies to all aspects of business relationship development. In short, it doesn’t usually take just one thing to compel someone to do something.
Neil’s session “encouraged companies to identify more actionable performance metrics and build stronger industry relationships as the advertising market continues its rapid evolution away from last-click valuation.” In concept, it means that there are many interactions that may occur before someone makes that decision to actually click or buy. They likely received impressions from various sources (ads, word of mouth mentions, etc.), or performed searches or perused various discussion or information sources at some point before that final “click”. So, why is that “last click” considered to be most valuable?
If you compare online sales and marketing to people-based sales and marketing activity, you’ll find that users will follow similar paths and interact in similar manners with both mediums. This is due to the fact that, as Neil puts it, “every customer has a story”, and each is taking their own individual journey. The path they follow is as individual as the person, but there are ways to identify trends based on how users interact with the business if the data can be appropriately captured and analyzed.
If we turn the conversation to customer management, similar truths are revealed. For example, in many businesses sales success is attributed solely to the sales team, and compensation plans support the belief that the front line is the essential source for new revenue. However, the truth may be that the sale was made based on a personal referral from a satisfied customer or perhaps due to a discussion where the service and support was said to be exceptional, or even because the login portal is a pleasant shade of green instead of a dull grey. Not giving appropriate credit to all of the factors which impact the sale presents a risk to the business, because changes in the approach may result with unintended negative consequences. Remove the element which supports or encourages the action and you may lose the action, which is more likely to occur if the business doesn’t really understand why it happens in the first place.
For example, a business may decide that a direct sale approach is better than giving up revenue to affiliates or resellers. However, the business may very well find that it takes the involvement of that affiliate or reseller in order to get the sale. Pouring more money and resources into the direct sales force won’t make up the difference if the target customer isn’t connecting, or if the company isn’t offering the additional service or value-add delivered by the partners. Also, if the sales organization is focusing exclusively on new business, where is the attention to current customers?
Businesses are spending tremendous resources in time, money and personnel to try to find ways to reach new customers and markets, yet often fail to fully understand what it took to get the existing customers on board. Even worse, many businesses resist analysis of EXISTING customer behavior, not taking the time to understand how that customer interacts with and uses services provided, and failing further in identifying and delivering additional value to keep the customer satisfied and coming back for more. Many businesses only address existing users from a support standpoint, yet fail to explore ways to improve retention or up-sell revenues through front line sales efforts. Again, it is the failure to understand when and why people take action that causes investment and effort to be misplaced, and desired results to not be achieved.
The whole point of this is that the business should KNOW MORE about the various ways users interact with them, and GIVE CREDIT to all of the elements involved in the chain. If every user has a story, then the business should closely listen to those stories to learn how to increase reach and service delivery to customers of a similar theme (what the customer needs now), and to keep listening and learning in order to understand what the customer needs next.
Link to Neil’s presentation here: http://googleaffiliatenetwork-blog.blogspot.com/2012/08/accelerate-deeper-look-at-attribution.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GoogleAffiliateNetwork+%28Google+Affiliate+Network%29&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher
You know those car commercials on TV, where the sales person is telling the customer about how great the warranty on the vehicle is? Yeah – the one where the customer wants to know if they should buy a good car, or buy a car with a good warranty. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
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