Oh, the places you’ll go! Top tips to design personalized customer journeys
Updated: Feb 23
10 ways your data can personalize your customer’s journey
Yes, the personalization of customer journeys is possible for your business! These top 10 tips will help you design and deliver a more personalized customer experience (CX) your customers want and deserve. Oh, the places you and your customers will go when their engagement with you is personalized. Dr. Seuss would be mighty proud. CX is a top priority of product managers, DX, CX, and marketers - so if your organization still has some CX boxes to check, increasing customer personalization is a critical and not overly complex next step. I’ve compiled these tried and true 10 tips based on the results I’ve uncovered through many years implementing real-world personalization techniques that deliver impactful results for different brands. Find the customer journey personalization tips that fit your business goals and let’s go!
“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.” - Dr. Seuss
Use Case Example: I used to design mobile purchasing experiences with the help of customer journey maps to integrate smart speakers into the customer journey for one company I supported. They were effective when analyzing customer experiences and testing different tactics. Streamlining and avoiding gaps are often the tactics of natural process managers like myself, but there are better ways to take customer journeys to the next level by engaging more personally. While some of these tactics may only be unlocked with a customer data platform (CDP), like VIEWN’s, some do not.
1. Nudge customers who are stuck in your funnel
Make your customer’s engagement through your marketing and sales funnel easier to complete. Working with Boston-based marketing consultants, Revenue Architects, we applied some recency and frequency analysis to one of their client’s marketing funnel and drilled into the events along the funnel looking for opportunities to engage better with key audiences. Through audience isolation, the client was empowered to target specific audiences with specific characteristics of this funnel:
Which customer kept coming back but never made it to the next stage?
What audiences came most recently from which channels?
Use Case Example: For this client, we found quite a number of customers registered for the same webinar over and over but never attended. Clearly, the data revealed an interest in the topic, and by realizing this pattern, adapting the marketing response with a nudge was an effective way to move the contact further through the marketing funnel with follow-up offers including the recording to the webinar they couldn’t seem to find time to attend. This method addressed customer interest and actions and deepened customer engagement through an effective nurture plan.
2. Connect with customers in their preferred channels
Even within the same audience segment, contacts will connect and access information in their own way. For me, it’s common to sit on my couch in the evening with my tablet while the TV is running. A commercial comes on for this tasty new burrito, and I want one! I browse through my tablet, then I grab my mobile phone to make the purchase - that’s where I’ve downloaded the restaurant app. Now, my husband, he’d just order from his tablet if he were the one “shopping.” He’s a one-stop buyer. That’s three different devices and two realistic scenarios for a 5-minute decision to order burritos. Did you just shrug? Sure you did, that’s a norm and nothing new in today’s customer journey - yours, theirs, and mine. But can your data and your journey deliver on these diverse customer preferences? Here’s how:
The data from digital channels such as chat and voice assistants are gaining in popularity, even in segments you would not necessarily expect. According to the Pew Research Center, 46% of US adults use voice assistants now and have gifted them to seniors. Whether impact can be directly measured or not, the case of delivering omnichannel experiences is becoming increasingly necessary. Personalization is about connecting with the customers in the ways they like. Your CDP can help you make this a reality.
3. Apply buyer attitudes
Especially important for B2C brands, real customer segments consist of nuances in customer attitudes toward a product or service. Like Dr. Seuss’ Thing 1 and Thing 2, they look alike but are antagonists that create havoc in any given situation. Like these characters, buyer attitudes can often be a bit tricky - and not readily addressable from out-of-box data your customer is creating. New innovations around customer surveys like those from CEO Analytics, can capture attitudes and preferences in an unbiased manner from your mailing lists or directly as a customer engages your customer journey. Understanding customer attitudes towards different value propositions, brand-recognition, or core features can greatly improve messaging and communication.
Traditional marketing has often relied on focus groups to distill buyer attitudes, but there are shortcomings with getting the results to work and show up in the data. The nature of sampling and finding willing participants can be biased toward people who can attend and who are more willing to speak up, this can lead you down the wrong path. Having assumptions to test at the start is key but validate these assumptions. Or risk using outdated and ineffective messaging.
4. Adjust your timing
The actual challenges around timing are enough for a marketing analyst to pull their hair out especially as it pertains to trying to reconstruct a customer journey from raw data. The dates all of a sudden don’t make sense, funnels start looking more like a bowl of ramen. But don’t fret, these workflow tactics can be applied to the customer journey that can increase conversion.
For enterprise marketing stacks, there are solutions that store and utilize customer preferences and can also throttle messages and prevent customers from being overwhelmed with content.
The easiest example to illustrate is with email newsletters. Customers can adjust the frequency of newsletters they prefer- weekly, monthly, quarterly.
Savvy marketers use behaviors collected during the customer journey processes to incorporate appropriately scheduled campaigns.
Use Case Example: For example, VIEWN’s buyer persona the Marketing VP/CMO research uncovered that most marketers prioritized their daily tasks in the morning. We schedule our email follow-ups to appear in time to be considered for morning planning. When demographic information is available, geographic considerations help when determining the timing of live events.
5. Drill down into how customers interact
This is an easy one when you are working with one system and simple workflows. Insight into opens, click-throughs, and attendees informs the adjustments you need to make. It also helps save costs when you cancel the campaigns that don’t convert. Name the Dr. Seuss character who enjoyed Green Eggs and Ham, regardless if it was “in a house, in a box, in a car, in a tree, on a train, in the dark, in the rain…” You can’t, he didn’t have a name (bad personalization Dr. S) and couldn’t be forced to interact the way Sam-I-Am wanted.
As more business applications are used to drive your customer journey, the help of CDP technology like VIEWN’s platform will be critical to help you unify data across several sources. Digital marketing can more efficiently look at opens and bounces from a single view. Regardless if the customer journey is tied together from a variety of apps, customer journey metrics in terms of usage and combined engagement scoring can provide deeper insights into how your customers interact with you so drill down into what they are doing and how they want to interact.
6. Allow for false starts - in the real world funnels are messy
Real-life customer experiences and mapped journeys become more akin to playing the kids game, Chutes and Ladders where players can move back and forth, start over many times, can get side-tracked after every turn. This doesn’t mean we throw our hands up in defeat, rather allow for the setbacks and increase the turns allowed to move forward.
“You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.”
- From Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
The reality is the customers will visit several times before making a purchase. If they are like me with lots of browser tabs open the raw data looks even more disjointed. After mapping that primary customer journey it is really beneficial to go back and analyze the experience for when the customer drops out of the journey. In business process mapping we are trained to look for the alternative flow.
Use Case Example: In digitizing home services, for example, the quoting process could have several alternatives and iterations before moving on with an expensive plumbing repair. We built-in quote states and reminder notifications for both the homeowner and plumber allowing them to start and stop the process seamlessly.
7. Reward those moving faster
Just as driving down a highway is much more pleasant than stopping at fifty lights to go the same distance on a busy local street - streamlining the primary customer journey for those coasting through to purchase can delight customers. Time-to-purchase and customer effort are always important considerations in designing any offering.
Use Case Example: As a customer-facing product manager aligned to purchasing innovations, I helped identify and implement a process using data that remembered previous orders and allowed for favorite menu items. These features minimized the clicks and contact points needed to get what they wanted to be done. The less the customer effort necessary to close, the higher the rate of conversion.
“And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
is not easily done.”
- From Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
8. Set reminders and notifications
This one has to be implemented with good experience in mind, as again there is a fine line between being vigilant and being annoying. However, especially with mobile experiences, push notifications and text messages can enhance your customer journey. This is especially true in time-sensitive processes and services.
Use Case Example: While designing self-ordering systems for restaurants, we could utilize messaging so customers can track their orders as it gets prepared. The feedback received was that the customers appreciated being able to time pick-ups for when the food was still hot. We also found lower levels of customer complaints as better expectations were set and communicating any delays showed an extra level of responsiveness.
9. Align content to segments and personas
Content strategies have long been developed with customer personas in mind and user-designed already optimizes content in context, but there remain gaps when applying targeted messaging along the customer journey. Innovation in data collection and analysis allows brands to validate their persona assumptions and adjust their content strategy more dynamically.
Use Case Example: A weight-loss company had much success bringing in consistent revenues with a solution targeting women but could improve churn and wanted to know which new audiences would drive growth moving forward. After collecting attitudinal data from CEO Analytics' surveys, they uncovered prioritized attitudes by segment towards weight loss. This allowed them to align content around the important values that keep customers around- fast and sustained results! For win-back and retention campaigns content could be aligned with their concerns.
10. Score engagement to orchestrate between journeys
Marketers have been ingrained with using lead scores to qualify prospects for sales, but the same complaints persist on the quality of even high-scoring leads. Contributing to this stubborn problem is the reality of fragmented customer journeys across different channels and marketing stages. How does having 4 different application lead scores help today’s marketer, anyway?
Use Case Example: At VIEWN, we are using our customer data platform to build more engagement scores that take in the bigger picture and that can consider the context of the customer journey in evaluating health. Our experience with predictive analytics, has us using combined engagement scores to try to predict what it takes for a customer to stay subscribed one more month. When the score begins to dip, then the profile is triggered for retention nurturing campaigns with our smart lists.
“Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
- From Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Deeply understanding the customer relationships your brand has cultivated, is the point of marketing. Building relationships implies multiple interactions with your brand over time. Personalizing more of these interactions with these tactics along the customer journey will pay off with greater customer satisfaction, increased retention, and strong brand loyalty. Implement these personalization tactics and see how your customer journeys transform into delightful customer experiences.
The list of 10 Personalization Tactics for the Customer Journey
Nudge customers who are stuck in your funnel
Connect with customers in their preferred channels
Apply buyer attitudes
Adjust your timing
Drill down into how customers interact
Allow for false starts - in the real world funnels are messy
Reward those moving faster
Set reminders and notifications
Align content to segments and personas
Score engagement to orchestrate between journeys