Understanding the customer journey remains elusive to marketers

Times are tough for marketers with fast moving consumers hard to keep up with as they swap between devices for different stages of the research to transaction journey.

This is truer in travel with such tiny online conversion rates (typically in the low single digits), than in many other verticals, that the slightest move can make a huge difference to the bottom line.

In fact, it seems tracking customers throughout the journey from researching products and services to buying something is becoming more difficult for marketers as the amount of data available at different touch-points increases.

A report from Econsultancy and Oracle shows that while marketers understand how important it is join up campaigns across the various channels, they face huge challenges when it comes to putting it into practice.

While much of the budget and focus continues to be on social media marketing, web and email, the use of mobile as a marketing channel is gaining considerable ground.

As part of the marketing mix, 46% used it as a channel last year rising to 54% in the Cross-Channel Marketing 2015 study. The Econsultancy research also points to figures from Capgemini showing 37% of UK online sales come via smartphone or tablet.

However, despite the positive mobile growth – marketing via web, email and social media remain the top three priorities for companies in the next year.

And, when it comes to opportunities for growth, social media, website and email come top.

While marketers acknowledge the impact of cross-channel campaigns on conversion, the report shows room for improvement in areas such as understanding the customer journey.

In 2014, 43% of respondents felt they understood the customer journey but this has now slipped to 39% with similar decreases in measuring financial benefits and customer retention benefits.

Despite the decrease, the research reveals that after having a clear strategy, understanding the customer journey is the most important factor for cross-channel marketing.

The ability to track customers across different devices also seems to be declining with 43% ‘agreeing strongly or somewhat’ that they track across devices, compared with 77% a year ago.

In addition, only about a 25% plan marketing based on how consumers are interacting with them via various screens.

It’s interesting to see how different companies are approaching the challenges with Expedia introducing Scratchpad for users to save searches while other companies, such as KLM, use services like Salesforce to keep track of customer interactions.

Expedia said recently that Scratchpad had led to a three-times greater likelihood of customers converting on the site.

econsultancy marketing relevancyFurther findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Almost three-quarters believe it is fundamental or important to provide relevant customer experiences
  • More than three-quarters say experiences need to be optimised to the device
  • 59% say its’s fundamental or important to provide experiences based on real-time, ‘in the moment’ behaviour
  • However, only 35% say their marketing is real-time enough to keep up with customers

Related reading:

Finding the right balance between personalisation and search

An Expedia take on tackling the attention span of a goldfish

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About the Writer :: Linda Fox

Linda is Managing Editor for tnooz. For the past decade, she has worked as a freelance journalist across a range of B2B titles including Travolution, ABTA Magazine, Travelmole and the Business Travel Magazine. In this time she has also undertaken corporate projects for a number of high profile travel technology, travel management, and research companies. Prior to her freelance career, she covered hotels and technology news for Travel Trade Gazette for seven years. Linda joined TTG from Caterer & Hotelkeeper where she worked on the features desk for more than five years.

 

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