The patchwork customer journey
Why module-based marketing can never be seamless

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by Redickaa Subrammanian

September 28, 2017

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The seamless customer journey is like that pot of gold at the rainbow’s end. Every brand covets it for their prospects and customers. Every marketing automation software vendor promises it to those marketers.

But just how seamless can a user journey be when its path is a loosely stitched patchwork of disparate, disjointed modules never designed to work together in the first place? In most cases, a brand is forced to use one module to consolidate, analyze, and segment audiences; another for targeting; a separate campaign manager (often with limited channel options); and perhaps yet another module for analytics.

Can marketers really expect to achieve seamlessness in such a scenario? Some might argue, “Why not? We are doing this now.”

To those I say, “The seamless user journey starts with data, continues with orchestrating the experience and culminates in leveraging data insights in real-time to impact conversion at the end of it all. But, with a siloed marketing ecosystem and separate modules for every aspect of reach and engagement, that journey neither starts off right, nor will it necessarily end where you want.”

Today there’s an untold wealth of big data – unstructured, semi-structured, and structured – coming from any number of different sources. When these sources remain in silos, there is no single body of truth that can narrate the whole story, from its different perspectives. Bringing all the attributes from this data together provides brands with the foundation and rich insights to segment and target its audiences most effectively. Without this foundation in place, the first step of approaching the right customer to take on a journey remains a utopian dream.

The second challenge is orchestrating and omnichannel marketing experience such that the hand-off between channels as users traverse them happens successfully and also remains transparent to them. A modular approach – most often the result of acquisitions of complementary tool sets with disparate backends – renders this a very complicated process to implement and execute. As a result, the hand-offs sometimes drop through the gaps and at other times is effected in a very contrived fashion. Quite often, manual intervention to transport data from one module to the next is the solution carrying with it the burden of a team of resources, time, effort and the possibility of human errors. In any case, the notion of seamless is lost, as is the ability to track from click to conversion.

The result, in effect, is that the marketing analytics and reporting possible at the end complete the patchwork but are quite superficial (though it might take days or even weeks to compile holistically). They lack the ability to shed light on insights such as paths to conversion, derive propensities or to make recommendations for proactive strategies.

Admittedly, delivering that much desired seamless customer journey is a tall order. But, it can be done. What it requires is a paradigm shift in the mindset of CMOs that can propel them to challenge the status quo, shake off the old school shackles, adopt innovative solutions and champion the cause through its transitionary phase to success. As these maver into real grow in number, the challenges will quite naturally transform into real-time opportunities for customer acquisition, relationship building, and a sustained, mutually rewarding seamless journey across the entire customer lifecycle.