Sales aren’t simple — ask anyone in the sales department, and they’ll tell you that the neat-and-orderly sales funnel isn’t a fair representation of how customers are won and revenue is increased. The process of gaining a customer is a far more complex journey than the sales funnel suggests — a journey full of twists, turns, and multiple touchpoints. Marketing optimization today requires a wide field of vision; instead of focusing all of your marketing spend on a limited number of channels to drive sales, marketing directors must de-focus and pay attention to many channels at once. For some of us, that may seem a bit counterintuitive.
In lieu of a sales funnel, you need a sales radar.
Back in the days of single-channel sales and the traditional marketing/sales funnel, the marketing department's job was simply to attract customers to the mouth of the funnel, then nudge them in. The customer touched only a few channels — an initial mail ad, a TV commercial announcing a coupon, etc. Then, the customer would choose to buy based on their awareness and your price point. Asking a customer how they heard of your product was relatively easy and gave a decent metric of effective marketing techniques.
With the advent of the digital revolution, companies connect with customers via a variety of touchpoints. Effective marketing now depends upon being able to develop audience representations of potential customers and develop marketing strategies tailored to that audience. Effective engagement involves multiple touchpoints, a complex path to purchase, and a rich understanding of the customer’s journey.
Mapping your customer's journey.
Marketing now requires a high degree of customer insight — what MCorp Consulting's Michael Hinshaw calls an "outside-in view" of your company's sales environment. Through careful research, you must understand the process from your customer's perspective and tailor your responses to what he or she perceives. You need to understand what your customer expects at each point along the journey and be prepared to meet those expectations.
How do you meet customers' expectations? By continually testing the marketing and sales experiences your company offers and identifying the gaps between what your customers want from the engagement process and what you actually provide.
Once you have mapped your customers' journey, you need then to work with lateral teams inside your company to share your findings and improve those experiences. It is, in fact, your job now to engage with potential customers where they are and help understand what motivates them to buy.
Consumer behavioral analysis: understanding how each customer moves and why.
Marketing in a multi-channel environment requires enhanced situational awareness. You need to understand each representative audience’s intent and motivations, so that you can engage individual customers effectively. Segmented marketing is a step in the right direction, but we now know that customers represent a much broader spectrum than a few lumped-together groups.
An individual customer may be an amalgamation of characteristics belonging to several different segments. This is a far more sophisticated view of cut-and-dried demographic information that traditional marketers have been comfortable with. We are increasingly finding that those who fail to embrace the demographic-first view aren’t as successful as companies who understand representative audiences.
A successful marketer needs to develop methods of tailoring the customer journey to the individual buyer, as well as celebrating those differences. Effective marketing optimization today means that the customer experience needs to be well thought-out, predictive, interactive and customizable.