Our title for today's comment is from our own Maxims of CRM in the Digital Age. And its really appropriate for a topic we want to touch on today. You can contact us for a far more in depth treatment, but we'll give you some resources here to start your own exploration. So, we commented a couple of days ago about brand management in the digital age. We alluded to the concept of the consumer decision journey. Today we'll expand that thought.
David Edelman of McKinsey and Company offered a great article we mentioned on the topic. In his December 2010 article "Branding in the Digital Age," he presented a model of how consumers today connect with brands in fundamentally new ways, often through media channels that are beyond manufacturers' and retailers' control. He observed that traditional marketing strategies cannot keep up in the digital age and called upon marketers to dump the funnel metaphor to describe consumer touch points in favor of examining the evolving and increasingly digital consumer decision journey or CDJ. He stated that purchase is no longer the end of the relationship. Now to this point, as retention marketing experts we are inclined to offer, "Duh."
The purchase never has been the end of the relationship, digital age or not. In fact, it should be the pivot point for starting (or extending) a sustainable relationship. And you will continually read or hear from us about the power curve of the customer relationship life cycle lying in the loyalty and advocacy stages.
What the digital age has done to contribute to this relationship is empower and make it easier for the customer to actively participate well beyond the purchase point.
Edelman's follow on article discusses how to align with the customer decision journey, and like his previous article, this one too is a worthy read. This article considers a B2B case study, illustrating how the CDJ is not limited to retail consumer experiences. The principles are equally applicable.
Summarily, there are five steps to defining the customer decision journey:
- interview your customers
- Gather publicly available data on search activity and traffic patterns
- Purchase additional multi-dimensional data as required
- Examine your own site data
- Combine findings to examine and analyze trends and mine insight
Well, this handily articulates what C[IQ] Strategies does in its Metrics Practice. But you should read on. The case study of a company he calls "Global Lighting" is a very good layout of the CDJ and realinging your marketing efforts to conform to the way consumers choose products and services in the digital age.
In summary, here are the major questions Companies must be willing to ask (and answer) in order to realign their marketing:
- Are you willing to challenge the way your functions operate?
- Do you have support outside marketing in sales, service and other functional groups?
- Are you prepared to make an upfront investment and pilot a range of changes?
- Do you have a champion at the top of the organization?
- Are your distribution channel partners eager to cooperate?
- How will you build your digital team? Do you have internal expertise or will we need to rely on agency help and external hires?
- What are the costs of not changing your digital strategy?