The Customer Journey Is Back

July 11, 2016
Jim Craig

Actually, the customer journey never left, but it no longer cares if we continue to ignore it. This was the conclusion I came to after two days of sessions at the 2016 Gartner Digital Marketing Conference.

What I saw in San Diego this year is the 1-to-1 marketing vision of Peppers and Rogers (The One To One Future - 1996) is actually being built by companies right now. The reality is that credit unions and community banks need to get ready for this next wave of digital change.

Remember journey maps? Yep, they never left either. In fact, for companies successfully competing online they are a critical part of their strategic marketing tool kit. The difference today, is that the journey maps are starting at a very different point than they did when we first started talking about them less than 10 years ago.

Instead of talking about the journey when the customer realizes they need our product (like a home equity loan) we need to understand the customer journey from an earlier point. For example, we should be focused on the point in time when that customer realizes they have a problem that could potentially be solved by our product...or more precisely can be solved by our knowledge (how will I pay for my kid’s college education?).

Fewer Product Pitches; More Knowledge Based Solutions

The shift seems subtle, but it completely turns the traditional bank/credit union marketing model on its head. To succeed in the future we need fewer product oriented pitches (like home equity loan “sales” timed for the spring home remodelling season), and more year-long efforts to connect the knowledge you have stored in your organization to the consumers in search of solutions to real life problems. The current model works because it does catch people at a time when many are looking for a solution to the problem of paying for home improvements, but it misses all of the customers with problems not related to the awareness campaign or its timing.

Shifting the Digital Experience

Contextual search has made this shift happen and, thankfully, marketing technology has advanced to allow marketers to stay relevant. Many examples were provided at the Gartner conference of digital experiences built to meet customers at the right point in their journey with the right content. Website content management systems are available now to allow content to be delivered based on a customer’s known profile or one inferred by sites visited/searches made/location of the visitor.

The power of these new contextual websites is that you can now present your expertise to customers when they want it and speak to their specific needs. Picture a home equity landing page that features an article on home remodeling tips for the person searching for home remodeling solutions. Or an article on understanding college financing options to the parent needing help in that area. The page would be vastly more powerful than a generic product page from both a search engine and visitor conversion perspective.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” but engaging the modern customer when they begin their journey is the new marketing challenge. Geezeo Interactive has the platforms and the expertise to help you understand those journeys and help you connect with consumers like never before. Contact me at jcraig@geezeo.com to begin your journey.

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