We were recently faced with a request from one of our partners to replicate, within Optimove, the customer journey they had planned out. While we were preparing, we asked our partners why they had structured the journey the way that they did – an email after 3 days, then a Facebook campaign after 4 more – and how they knew what would be best for each customer. Our partners looked us in the eye, shrugged their shoulders and said, “there’s no real reason, it’s just the way it is, we ran some tests a while back and we think that this is going to work”.
The truth is that customer journeys were built to fit a market that is very different from the current one. The time has come to truly delight customers by making sure that they receive the personalized, engaging and ever-evolving treatment that they deserve and expect.
What is a Customer Journey?
At their core, customer journeys are built on a simple notion that marketers can plan all of the different steps that their customers are going to take and chose the right messages they should encounter each step of the way. Customer journeys are simply a visual that shows markers how to effectively engage their audience and provide value. The problem is that customers often aren’t as predictable as we would like them to be, and frequently behave very differently than we expect. These misalignments often cause customers to receive messages and offers that don’t resonate with them, thus damaging brand equity and missing real opportunities to engage.
While many companies are putting more emphasis than ever before on data collection and testing, implementing true personalization is still hard to come by. Customers are vastly different from one another and often don’t act based on any type of segmentation that we may have pre-conceived. As a result, customers often feel frustrated and disconnected from companies when they receive generic or irrelevant campaigns that fail to acknowledge their preferences.
The Unpredictability of Customer Behavior
One approach to dealing with the unpredictability of customer behavior is to constantly test different approaches and touch points. Yet, running tests is typically a cumbersome process requiring both input from several departments within the company and advanced statistical know-how. Even those marketers who have tested out different approaches often find themselves paying a high cost of generalization, not to mention the fact that just doing testing doesn’t promise that the results and actions you take will withstand the test of time.
In our research, we have found that, at any given moment, marketers are testing between 5-10 campaigns. Most wish they could test and iterate more, yet don’t have the necessary infrastructure and human capital to do so.
Self-Optimizing Campaigns to Achieve a Personalized Customer Journey
Optimove believes that the only true way to achieve a personalized customer journey is by leveraging self-optimizing campaigns. These campaigns, based on machine learning algorithms, have the testing built into them from the get-go: they constantly compare between several competing actions for every touch point, and aim to deliver the most appropriate and effective message for each customer at that moment in time.
Instead of deciding which offer you should send your customers via which channels, Optimove can help you smartly mix and match, making sure that at every instance your customers are receiving the optimal message. Self-optimizing campaigns are constantly evolving and self-learning, thus making sure that no two customers are treated the same.
Customers are no longer satisfied with stale and linear customer journeys. Brands that adapt to this reality by supporting infinite customer journeys stand to profit from a more engaged and loyal customer base.
Yoav Susz is Optimove's VP Revenue in the United States. After a career in Public Diplomacy, Product Management and Law, Yoav found his true calling helping businesses find the best way to engage their customers. Yoav holds an LLB from the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel and an MBA from the Stern School of Business at NYU.
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