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"Optimizing the customer journey using PIM"

Excerpt: A study by Esch/Absatzwirtschaft states that there are well over 200 different customer touchpoints throughout the customer lifecycle. But which touchpoints are relevant for your industry and your target group? And how can you ensure that you are communicating the most current and complete content at all touchpoints?

Increasing number of customer touchpoints in the customer lifecycle 

Nowadays, the average consumer owns about 7 digital devices (e.g. smartphone, smartwatch, TV, desktop PC, notebook, tablet PC, virtual assistants, etc.), of which they use at least three devices every day. Accordingly, the digital customer journey is also becoming increasingly complex. The number of channels and thus also the number of brand contact points through which companies can interact with their customers and prospects is thus constantly increasing. 

Depending on the industry and target group, it is important to identify the relevant channels and touchpoints that arise during the information, purchase and service phases:

  • Information phase before purchase (customer information points): For example, advertising, PR, direct marketing, event marketing, sales promotion, radio, newspapers, social media, blogs, communities, influencer marketing, search engines, landing pages, comparison and rating portals, newsletters, online marketplaces, online demos.
  • Information phase during the purchase (customer points of sale): for example, stationary retail, catalog retail, online stores, websites, apps, call centers, tele-shop, chats
  • Information phase after purchase (customer service points): For example, online stores, websites, apps, service portals, call centers, field service, social media, newsletters, chats, helpdesk

The selection of relevant touchpoints depends on the overarching corporate goals. Typical goals of customer journey management are:

  • Increase brand awareness/image
  • Strengthening customer relationships/CRM
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Reduction of returns and cancellations
  • Improvement of customer service

Market research (e.g. customer surveys) can be used to determine the areas in which improvements are needed.

The number of touchpoints needed until conversion

Before potential customers complete a purchase today, they jump from one touchpoint to the next during their purchase decision process, regardless of device and channel. The number of touchpoints a customer goes through depends on the purchase risk, which in turn is made up of financial, psychological, product-related or social risks. 

“Across all sectors, consumers (B2C) need 6 touchpoints before making a purchase decision. While cars require an average of just 3.9 relevant touchpoints, the figure for products from the electronics sector is 9.3. A look at individual sectors shows that FMCG products require an average of 4.6 touchpoints, services 5.7 and consumer durables even 6.5.”

Source: Report „5 Jahre WAVEMAKER Momentum“, 2019

The higher the purchase risk, the longer the purchase decision process usually takes and the more touchpoints a potential customer passes through in his customer journey. In the case of complex, expensive products that require explanation, the purchase decision process can take several weeks or even months. In the B2B world, there are often even more contact points in the purchase decision process, as several players or interest groups are involved, especially in strategic purchase decisions (buying center). Companies that understand their customers’ behavior are more likely to be able to ensure homogeneous communication and a 360° view of the customer. But how can companies achieve this?

Managing complexity in the customer journey successfully

Customer journey analysis enables companies to evaluate the efficiency of existing brand touchpoints. After reviewing the touchpoints, the sequence and impact of the contact points can be analyzed. It is important to check whether the alignment fits the brand (corporate identity) and the strategic corporate goals. At the same time, the analysis helps to better understand the customer experience:

  • Identification of relevant touchpoints: Inventory of all current and potential touchpoints – both direct touchpoints that are influenced by the company itself and indirect touchpoints that are controlled by external stakeholders (e.g., rating portals, blogs, peer reviews, etc.). When considering potential touchpoints, a competitive analysis is advisable. Which competitors use which additional touchpoints?
  • Evaluation of the touchpoints: To which touchpoint can the conversion or purchase ultimately be assigned? Due to the individual, cross-channel information behavior, it is not possible to give a blanket answer to this question. In order to derive detailed recommendations and forecasts as to which touchpoints provide which return on investment (ROI), it is necessary to test different attribution models. Since this process can be very complex, a pragmatic approach is often taken into account in practice, in which the contact points are assigned to the usual phases of buying behavior (touchpoints before the purchase, during the purchase, after the purchase).
  • Prioritization of touchpoints: Which touchpoints have a long-term positive effect on the customer experience, according to the overarching corporate and marketing goals? Which touchpoints may have a negative external impact and should be eliminated or replaced? Customer surveys are suitable for assessing the perception of the touchpoints.
  • Planning and implementation: Here, with the help of a schedule including consideration of responsibilities, measures for the implementation of the planned touchpoints are defined and finally operationally implemented.
  • Continuous tracking: In the monitoring phase, the positive effects of the individual touchpoints must be regularly monitored and improved. Web analysis tools can be used here, especially for online touchpoints.

Touchpoint management helps companies in the B2B and B2C sectors to master the increasing online-offline complexity. Through continuous optimization of the touchpoints, individual company areas become more interconnected and enable a 360° view of the customer.

Customer journey management can be greatly facilitated through the use of product information management. With a PIM system, manufacturers and retailers can effectively manage their product data and their media assets and share it with internal and external stakeholders. As a result, they ensure that customers and prospects are shown the most current and complete content at all relevant touchpoints. Marketing teams are able to provide the right content for the different channels (print, website, online store, marketplaces, B2B portals, social media, etc.) in the right format in the shortest possible time. A PIM system also provides companies with valuable insights into which multimedia content performs best in the customer journey.

Learn about the benefits of our PIM system for your industry and business model in a free, no-obligation online demo and find out how to ensure consistent and compelling corporate and product communication across all relevant channels.

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