A better approach: Align data and analytics across the customer journey


Marketers today use varying adaptations of the customer journey to describe a circular, looped decision pathway with four distinct phases.

Mapping the right data to specific stages of the customer journey is all about getting to know your customers and developing initiatives to put that knowledge into action. Applying analytical models across the key customer journey phases uncovers opportunities to cultivate value generating behaviors and extend the customer’s lifetime value.

  • Initial Consideration Set (Research/Discover). Data and analytics in this phase help you gain deeper customer understanding of customers and prospects. Segmentation surfaces stated and unmet customer needs and buying motivations. Reach the right prospects with look-alike acquisition models and evaluate prospects with lead scoring techniques.
  • Active Evaluation (Explore/Consider). Data and analytics in this phase help you dynamically adapt marketing efforts to customer response – in real-time. Offer optimization techniques can match the appropriate offer based on historical customer response. Amazon’s recommendation engine is a familiar example. Also, A/B and multivariate testing can assess various marketing variables, such as messaging and content types before you roll out initiatives on a wider scale.
  • Moment of Purchase (Buy/Convert). Data and analytics help you understand how and when customers will purchase. Predictive techniques such as propensity models help marketers predict the likelihood that a customer will respond to a specific offer or message and convert. Expand share of wallet with cross-sell and affinity models; or, understand future buying behavior through propensity models.
  • Post-purchase experience (Use/Maintain/Advocate). Data and analytics in this phase help you uncover patterns of usage behavior and further drive customer engagement. For example, a retail site may tell you the status of your recent order the moment you land on the home page. Churn models such as uplift modeling and survival analysis can provide early warning signs of defection. Preempt customer churn with corrective actions, such as special offers or free upgrades.

Open, unified capabilities needed

Brands that build the most effective customer journeys master three interrelated capabilities: unified customer data platforms, proactive analytics and contextual interactions.

  • Unified customer data platforms: This capability unifies a company's customer data from online and offline channels to extract customer insights and steer customer experience. This includes the ability to cleanse, normalize and aggregate data from disparate systems – within the enterprise and externally – at an individual level.
  • Proactive analytics: Purpose-built data collection and analytics capabilities that incorporates both customer analytics (give brands the customer insight necessary to provide offers that are anticipated, relevant and timely) and marketing analytics (evaluate marketing performance using metrics, such as ROI, channel attribution, and overall marketing effectiveness).
  • Contextual interactions: This capability involves using real-time insights about where a customer is in a journey digitally (browsing product reviews) or physically (entering a retail outlet) or to draw her forward into subsequent actions the company wants her to pursue.

The results are dramatic when marketers can combine data management, analytics and insights execution into unified marketing platform.

Consider gourmet gift retailing icon, Harry & David. By combining data-driven marketing with enriched customer insight, the company transformed its catalog heritage into a contemporary, digital retailing powerhouse. In the past three years, customer retention has increased by 14 percent and sales per customer have gone up 7 percent.

The largest retail group in Switzerland, Migros, used data and analytics to further optimize the customer journey.

The upshot: Change perception to reality

“If change is happening on the outside faster than on the inside the end is in sight.” – Jack Welch

Digitally-empowered prospects and customers are calling the shots, going after what they want when they want it. With a unified view of data and analytics, brands can position themselves in front of their customers’ paths as they navigate the customer journey.

For the brands that can see the world as their customers do – and shape the customer journey accordingly--the reward is higher brand preference, revenue and cost improvements, and a lasting competitive advantage.

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About Author

Global Director, Customer Intelligence

Until his passing in January 2022, Wilson Raj was the Global Director of Customer Intelligence at SAS. He was responsible for global marketing to establish, evolve and evangelize SAS’ analytics-powered marketing solutions. With twenty years of experience in multiple industries, Raj was known for building data-driven brand value, engagement, and loyalty through expertise in integrating advertising, digital marketing, social media, multi-channel relationship marketing and public relations. He led marketing at Fortune Global 500® companies such as Microsoft, Medtronic and Philips. He also advised C-level executives on digital strategy while at award-winning agencies that include Publicis Groupe and WPP-owned agencies—such as VML/Young & Rubicam and Wunderman.

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