User journeys are a hot topic right now in content. MarTech sites user journeys as one of the key drivers of modern marketing, while MarketingProfs announces customer experiences are a make-or-break business factor. In truth, companies that want to thrive and survive must be audience-first this and every year because “customer journey mapping will become a mandatory tool for digital transformation. Enterprises will begin to do customer journey mapping as the first part of their planning activities,” predicts Mahesh Kolar, Director of Mobility Applications at Dell.
As content strategy and content marketing have exploded, the need to evolve beyond user personas and focus on user journeys has intensified. During much of the journeys your customers or users take, they are interacting with your content or content available about your organization.
In fact, “82% of consumers research products prior to going in the store,” according to Salesforce Research’s Connected Shoppers Report. For B2B decisions, that number jumps to 94%.
One of the goals for creating user journeys is to ensure that a user’s experience is better with your brand than all (or at least most) of the other brands they encounter on a daily basis. The sheer mass of content that people experience across varied touchpoints each day is staggering, with “U.S. adults spen[ding] 10 hours, 39 minutes a day consuming media in the first quarter of 2016,” says Adweek.
So how can an organization stand out among all the noise? Colleen Jones, CEO of Content Science, points to four differentiators.
Accenture Global reports that customers are increasingly frustrated with the level of service they experience: 91% because they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason, 90% by being put on hold for a long time, and 89% by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives.
But by 2018, Gartner predicts that more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations. And there is no shortage of opportunity to improve customer experience.
Forrester’s 2017 Customer Experience Index for US brands reveals that customer experience quality worsened across the board between 2016 and 2017, with the number of brands in the excellent category falling to zero, and the percentage of brands with poor scores rising from 20% to 23%.
The benefits to improving your users’ journeys is evident. As SAS shares from their Forbes Insights study, Data Elevates the Customer Experience: “Leaders in using data-driven experience management highlighted benefits including faster time to decisions (67%), a more comprehensive common enterprise view of customers (51%), more confidence in their decisions by managers and employees (49%), and greater collaboration between departments (36%).”
Luckily, more and more executives are recognizing the importance that their organizations better understand user journeys. As Hubspot’s Chief Revenue Officer urges in a recent report from GetApp, “What companies need to do is start with their buyers’ perspective and their journey. View your product and company through the lens of the buyer. What opportunities are you trying to pursue? How are you prioritizing? What categories are you looking at to solve it? And, for your category, how are you uniquely positioned to solve it? When you understand those pieces and work them into the sales process you’re showing buyers that you appreciate their obstacles and concerns.”
According to Salesforce, 86% of senior-level marketers say that it’s absolutely critical or very important to create a cohesive customer journey. Those that focus on improving user journeys stand to be rewarded with a much higher ROI.
Why is such a high percentage of marketing-qualified leads not converting? Papillaud suggests companies need to use data in smarter ways so they focus their storytelling efforts on the right users. Plus, “mapping is very difficult given the heterogeneity of all markets, and the same consumer may have a totally different journey at different times because of different contexts,” offers Wharton professor Jerry Wind. Jones advises companies home in on their metadata to safeguard that their content will actually end up in the right user journeys.
While the task of mapping user journeys can be daunting, more big and small data is available than ever. By constantly analyzing users’ journeys, organizations can better deliver relevant, welcomed content to the right audiences through the right touchpoints at the right moment. We’re in a perpetual era of personalization, and it’s imperative to strive for positive user journeys that end with the desired result — for both the user and the organization.
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