The customer journey is dead... Long live consumer pathways!

Is this the breakthrough we have all been looking for to move social media from some vague, difficult to measure engagement channel to a razor sharp direct marketing tool?

I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching clients the benefits of mapping, measuring and influencing customer journeys to improve sales, retention and customer revenues.

But recently I have had a revelation. This is an oversimplification and a generalisation of how consumers actually behave. It also relies on the consumer telling you that they are ready to interact and appearing on your data whether as a suspect, prospect or customer.

What has been concerning me is that there is now a raft of consumer behaviour that we just don’t see that will be a bigger influence on their purchase decision. For example; searches for yours and rival products, product reviews, personal recommendations, filmic content, seemingly unrelated purchases, social conversations and even life events – having a baby, going to university etc.

So shouldn’t we be measuring and monitoring these as a means to influence consumer behaviour? How great would it be to know that your consumer is in market before your competitors do? What if we could measure these key triggers or behaviours, and then influence them by appearing in their relevant places, with the right message or right content and then follow up to their email or home address?

Minority Report? Big Brother? Or the latest in efficiently personalised marketing? Here at the WDMP Science Dept we think it’s the latter. Social media is merely a set of platforms – social data is the set of interactions and activities that we should get excited about. It’s the breakthrough we’ve been looking for to move social media from some vague, difficult to measure engagement channel to a razor sharp direct marketing tool and new data source?

We now need to understand every touch point and content experience consumers have both inside and outside of the brands control. Understanding the individual ‘consumer pathways’ that they take to and from your brand – through engagement, consultation with others, consideration purchase and then
hopefully advocacy.

Understanding the pathways means a move to real ‘consumer time’ marketing so an end to brands ‘batch time’ marketing… and that surely has to be a good thing for everyone.

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