Working together, properly crafted buyer personas and journeys allow companies to gather and analyze feedback from customers that help marketers and other team members make better choices about when, where, and how to invest.
Here’s what 16 CMOs and other top marketers say their peers need to know about buyer journeys.
The objective for CMOs and marketing professionals is to understand customer needs and wants along the entire buyer journey and all the content that helps with meeting those needs. Marketers need an understanding of consumer demographics, behavior, and engagement–how they engage with your content, where they go online and use products, how they use apps, and so on.
–Guy Marion, CMO, Autopilot
The Journey Is Not The Funnel
Buyer personas and journeys are not the same as market segments and the marketing funnel. Many marketers conflate the two–but keeping the distinction clear is key to creating an outstanding customer experience. When used thoughtfully, user personas give anyone building and shaping a product–and all associated messaging–a deep sense of empathy with a user's hopes, desires, and emotional states. These insights, in turn, will inform a user journey that plays out like a well-crafted story, with a distinct beginning, middle, and (triumphant) end.
–Vivek Wagle, Senior Director of Marketing, Tapingo
Start With The Customer
Marketing should always start with the customer’s perspective, engaging them in all the places they are, in the ways they want to be engaged, and thinking of the entire life cycle so they constantly see the value of relating with you. This is driven by the buyer persona and user journey–the data and context that ensures you are targeting the right people in the right places and staying relevant to where they are in their relationship with you. The challenge is balancing this with the creative–the ability to cut above the noise–but even that should be customer-centric with feedback gained directly from the customer and, ultimately, measuring the impact to the bottom line.
–Sydney Sloan, CMO, Alfresco Software
Get Everyone On Board
Buyer journeys are most valuable when shared and embraced by the entire organization—not just marketing. For example, the customer care team needs to understand the needs and challenges of the people who are contacting them. The product team needs to understand how and why customers are using the product. An effective buyer journey maps out all stages of the buying process, from the moment the customer becomes aware of the brand, through purchase and product use. Additionally, these other teams can and should provide input into the journey map.
–Susan Ganeshan, CMO, Clarabridge
Focus On Conversion Points
Mapping out user journeys helps you understand the most important paths a customer takes through your site or product. This helps you narrow down key conversion points and can help you focus your marketing and optimization activities. This is great for any marketer, but it's especially important when you have limited budgets and time.
–Magda Walczak, CMO, The Search Party
There Is No One Journey
Buyer journeys are nonlinear; there is no single path to purchase. With multiple devices and access points, consumers are in control of when and how they engage with a brand. As a CMO, this has to be top of mind when designing and delivering customer experiences.
–Dan Gilmartin, CMO, BlueConic
Imagination Isn’t Enough
Buyer journeys need to be based on real world data to really provide value. It's also critical that you capture every step and don't make the mistake of missing an important interaction. Comprehensive data collection and analysis is essential.
–Michael Riley, Co-Founder and CMO, Boxter
Keep Buyer Journeys Up To Date
Track everything related to campaigns involving buyer personas and user journey through multiple systems. Review, adapt, and refine. Be open to the idea that the priority of each buyer persona to focus on may, and likely will, change throughout the buyer journey.
–Kara Kamenec, Director of Content Marketing, Gogotech
Don’t Use Buyer Journey As A Crutch
As useful as buyer journeys are, they are a guideline, not a rulebook. Don't rely on them alone; everyone is an individual, and every sale is a partnership. You still need to get to know your audience.
–Kamal Ahluwalia, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Apttus
The Journey May Be Difficult
The buyer's journey is no longer easily mapped, as it's filled with multiple on-ramps and exits. Your buyers navigate the long, winding road or the shortcuts depending on their needs and timelines. No longer are we driving the process. So once you develop your personas, you have to take the next step: Find out where your buyers go for information, what they care about, and how they like to interact. Then create vehicles to mirror the myriad ways buyers are interacting for information, validation, and, ultimately, purchase. As marketers, we need to ensure we have access points throughout the journey that are easily available, understandable, and tailored to the buyer's needs.
–Christine Bottagaro, CMO, Rogue Wave Software
Not A Straight Path
Buyer journeys aren't linear. This seems so obvious on the surface, but, in practice, we treat them like they follow a nice, clean process. Buyer journey mapping helps us create a framework for understanding what questions we need to answer at each stage in the buyer’s journey, but we have to adapt to what messages we put in front of buyers and when. Marketing and sales need to be adept at reading buying signals–whether it's in person or through the use of marketing and sales automation–and present the right information at the right time.
–Anthony Christie, CMO, Level 3 Communications
Measure, Measure, Measure, Respond
Journeys must be mercilessly measured. Measure the time it takes between milestones. Identify natural lulls and pauses as well as times of acceleration. Craft content and engagement strategies that leverage that insight.
–Billy Cripe, CMO, Field Nation
It’s Not You, It’s Them
The customer journey, so elegant and straightforward when we sketch it on a whiteboard, is actually a random walk through a minefield of distractions and competing priorities. The result is mobile apps and websites that underperform, and marketing programs that fail to engage people. Creating a great customer experience in the multichannel world requires a much higher standard for simplicity and flexibility than most of us realize. We need a dramatically different mindset in our design and testing.
–Michael Mace, VP of Mobile, UserTesting
It Doesn’t End With The Sale
Marketers often approach customer journey mapping with the goal of customer acquisition in mind, but organizations need to take a more holistic view that includes meeting customer needs after a conversion or transaction and, more importantly, doing right by that customer as a way to nurture them toward brand advocacy. Customer journey mapping needs to address all stages of consumer behavior–awareness, consideration, purchase, service, and loyalty. Organizations can use customer journey mapping to identify gaps, break down silos, and find holes in the hand-off of various customer service communications and processes. At each step in the customer journey, it’s important to understand what questions are being asked by the consumer. The journey needs to answer these questions.
–Bob Egner, VP Product Management, EPiServer
Connect The Dots
Marketers must understand buyer personas and user journeys in order to provide seamless customer experiences and foster customer loyalty. When it comes to user journeys, marketing professionals must understand that each individual’s journey with the brand is multifaceted, frequently spanning several different channels. Marketers must be able to connect the dots by pulling from customer data from previous interactions, across many devices, and use this data to make each touchpoint more personalized than the last.
–Paige O’Neill, CMO, SDL
A Health-Care Perspective
In health care, customer journeys begin with engagement, but, in order for marketing spend to ultimately be converted to revenue, it's imperative for health systems to consider the full customer experience for each persona, requiring engagements across all points of interaction, not just those under the CMO’s purview. A small example of this is alignment between marketing and patient access departments, ensuring that those people being targeted as potential consumers may have a smooth experience getting care. This approach should not be unique to health care; internal stakeholder alignment, within any organization, will help ensure that the dollars spent on marketing, targeting specific customer personas, will ultimately create loyal, return buyers.
–Jamie Gier, CMO, SCI Solutions