By Rich Smith, Chief Marketing Officer, Jornaya

It’s no surprise that online interactions have increased since the start of the pandemic. With more customers spending time at home, 80% of businesses indicate their online interactions with customers have increased. In response, marketers are committed to improving the customer experience, with C-level executives saying they are invested in the customer experience. In fact, 60% of those surveyed report adding additional customer touch points to the customer experience.

The customer experience needs major attention as online interactions and traffic continue to grow. Marketers need to reevaluate their strategy and focus—instead of relying on touch points alone, there should be added effort to creating meaningful customer interactions.

What to Consider When it comes to the Journey

Each shopping journey is unique to the individual and market. Some can last a few days, some a few weeks, and some much longer. Jornaya offers insights into markets where customers invest significant time researching and comparing their options, like mortgages, insurance, banking, and higher education.

Even within these major-life purchase journeys, there are significant differences. For instance, a mortgage shopping journey may happen over a few weeks to a month but may be repeated multiple times in a customer’s lifetime, depending on how often they move or refinance. Compare this to a higher education journey, which can last much longer but only happens once in the average customer’s lifetime.

These journeys are all relatively long, and there’s a higher chance of in-market consumers being at different stages of the process. Someone who is a first-time home buyer might shop around with various banks and lenders for their mortgage do more research and need more assistance. Compare this to an experienced homebuyer who might be able and want to get the process done quicker with fewer questions along the way.

Read More: Voice Technology Transforms Customer Journey Management Beyond Expectation

Data plays an effective and essential role in determining where customers are in their journey and how to best engage with them to provide a quality customer experience.

Data is King 

There are many types of data that can give an idea of what someone’s journey looks like:

  • First-party data: First-party data shows how a customer is interacting with a brand. It can note how many times they’ve been to a site, what they’ve been shopping for, if they have visited a retail location, called a call center, or filled out a lead form.

Typically, a lot of demographic information is pulled from first-party data (age, occupation, etc.), but it can’t provide insights into what a customer is doing on competitor or comparison websites and locations. To get a look at what a consumer is doing before they reach your website and after they leave, marketers should leverage third-party data.

 

  • Third-party data: A third-party data source pulls from other comparison shopping sites to see how customers are interacting, including how long they are shopping on those sites, what they are shopping for, how often they are shopping, etc. In essence, third-party data gives marketers a holistic view of the shopping journey.

 

  • Behavioral data: Behavioral data, a form of third-party data, is arguably the most effective because, unlike demographics and personas that are aggregated at a group or segment level, customer behavior changes all the time and gives insight at an individual level.

Analyzing behavior shows a more accurate understanding of where someone is in their journey and their propensities. For example, someone could start a shopping journey for a home, be active for a month and then stop for two weeks.

This shift in buying behavior is a good indication that the customer is no longer interested in exploring that journey. However, once they start shopping again, say on a competitor’s site, third-party data will show that they are back in-market.

What Does This Mean for all Marketers?

Behavioral data insights help marketers personalize and prioritize their strategy. Customers who have just started their journey should receive a much different marketing approach than someone who has been on a shopping journey for months.

During the pandemic, mortgage lenders saw a huge influx in leads due to low rates and an active real estate market. This led to a crowded funnel for lenders who spread thin trying to keep up with demand. These lenders needed a way to prioritize their funnel to target buyers who were most likely to convert.

A great example of how to prioritize leads in a funnel is to look at duration. The less duration someone spends on a comparison website, the lower the conversion rate. This is expected, but low intent shoppers should not be discounted either.

Lenders who are spread thin can identify and prioritize the customers who are spending more time shopping by reaching out with a phone call and personalized message. At the same time, they can still keep the top of the funnel customers in-market by sending out an email with more general information. Incorporating third-party behavioral data can show lenders the value in supposedly ‘low intent’ customers.

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This strategy can be translated into any shopping journey, not just major-life purchase markets. Prioritizing more serious customers and personalizing messaging to fit their needs will create a better customer experience and save marketers time and money.

Putting the Customer First: Now and Always

There are thousands of mar-tech solutions to choose from, but choosing the right one can set businesses up for long term success.

Leveraging a combination of first-party, third-party and behavioral data will allow marketers to prioritize leads and personalize messaging for accurate customer experiences during a time where nothing is certain.