Customer Data Guides

How to Set Up Customer Journey Analytics For the First Time

What’s the difference between customer lifecycle and customer journey? 

The first thing we need to define is that the customer lifecycle and the customer journey begin at the top of the funnel. We’re not talking only about paying customers, we’re also talking about potential customers. Why is this important? Because customers who have a positive experience with your company from the minute they enter your funnel are more likely to close faster, spend more, cost less, and renew at a higher rate.

The customer lifecycle, at the simplest level, defines what stage the customer is in. Think of it as the framework for how you will engage your prospects and customers. It allows you to define the business processes associated with each stage. Before you can truly carve out an effective engagement strategy, you need to understand where people are in the funnel.

Are they at the top of your funnel trying to figure out who you are and what you do as a company? If so, you’re likely introducing them to your brand, establishing credibility, and trying to earn their trust. 

Are they a loyal customer that has been with you several years? If so, they will have a very deep relationship with your brand, and the way you engage them is going to be different than the person at the top of the funnel.

One of the biggest benefits of defining your customer lifecycle is that it allows you to figure out how to bring value to your customers at each stage. Another benefit is that it gets Marketing, Sales, and Customer Success on the same page. When internal teams are aligned and working in concert, the customer wins.

The customer journey, on the other hand, is all about the experiences that happen throughout the customer lifecycle. You want to roll out the red carpet for your customers, right? Of course you do! But do you know how to engage them effectively at every stage in their journey? Do you know how to bring value to them and influence their decision making as they move through the funnel? Do you know how to eliminate friction and deliver flawless customer experiences at scale?

What’s the relationship between customer data and the customer journey?

Data is absolutely critical to the customer journey. It is the foundation that GTM teams build upon, and directly impacts a company’s ability to scale. It enables Marketing teams to send the right message at the right time. It enables Sales teams to follow up intelligently. It enables Customer Success teams to identify and prevent churn.

Let’s look at Audience Segmentation, for example, to see how data impacts the customer journey. It’s a critical topic that is often overlooked because of its assumed simplicity. In reality, it is quite complex. Not only that, it has a direct impact on every GTM team’s ability to engage their audience effectively.

Here are a few questions to get the wheels turning. How many companies have you worked at that maintain a completely accurate and reliable customer database? How much trust do you have in your team’s ability to create audience segments correctly? Is your customer data accessible to your revenue teams or does it live in silos? 

Data has to be accurate, it has to be trustworthy, and it has to be available. Every single communication is a chance to either delight the customer or add friction to the journey. Whether we’re talking about leveraging marketing automation to send out thousands of emails, sales automation sending out sequences, or personal outreach, having accurate and accessible data makes all the difference in the world.

Who owns the customer journey? Can it be a single owner?

It’s a team effort. It takes alignment across Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success to define the stages and the associated business processes in order to deliver the best experience for the customer. This is where breaking down silos and working together cross-functionally becomes essential. 

It’s also important to understand the need for optimizing the customer journey over time. There are a lot of people and a lot of strategies involved. Layer in the fact that things are constantly changing for both the customer and the business, and you can see where this has to be a joint effort. Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success all have expertise in different areas of the customer journey. It’s about working together to streamline the journey and eliminate friction, creating a win for the business and a win for the buyer.

Why is it so hard to provide a consistent and cohesive customer experience across many teams/touchpoints?

Technology Silos – When key business systems don’t talk to each other, it’s not good for the customer.

Department Silos – When teams aren’t aligning and strategizing on how to deliver the best customer experience possible throughout the entire journey, then the customer experience will be noticeably disjointed.

Poor Data Quality – Messy data wreaks havoc on GTM teams. Compromised ability to send the right message at the right time, routing issues, bad sales intel, embarrassing communications, and so much more stem from poor data quality.

What are the risks of not sitting down to document a customer journey map?

You risk losing business to your competitors that have a more refined customer journey. You risk leaving revenue on the table. You risk a higher customer churn rate. It also reinforces silos in your organization, which is never good. Ultimately, teams should be working together cross-functionally to deliver the best customer experience possible.

How do you create a customer journey?

In order to create a frictionless customer journey, you need a good amount of cross-functional alignment. Start by getting Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success together to define the Customer Lifecycle stages that a potential buyer goes through and the associated business processes. If a buyer goes straight through the funnel, it will look something like this…

Of course it’s not always that simple, some people will get Disqualified, some will be Recycled, some will become Closed Lost. The important thing here is that you establish the criteria for each stage as well as the business rules. For example, is Sales allowed to contact people before they reach the MQL stage? Is Marketing allowed to contact people once they reach SAL? What happens when people move from one stage to the next? It’s easy to step on each other’s toes and create a negative experience for the customer if you don’t have these rules defined.

Once you have your funnel stages and business processes mapped out, it’s time to create a Persona Matrix. This is a pretty quick and easy exercise and it’s another good way to get Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success in the room together. Usually you end up with a combination of empirical data and anecdotal data to complete the matrix. 

To start, consider the different types of Decision Makers and Influencers that make up your customer base. What do they care about? How can you help them?

Customer Journey Analytics: Persona Matrix

Pain Points – What impedes their success? What causes them frustration or worry?

  • E.g. Are they afraid of failure? Are they constantly behind on their work? Are they contributing to their company’s bottom line?

Motivation – What are they motivated by? What will get them to take action?

  • E.g. Are they working towards a promotion? Are they trying to learn new skills? Are they looking to save time or reduce costs?

Offer – What can you offer them that speaks to their pain points and motivators? 

  • E.g. Does your product or solution bring peace of mind, time savings, financial gain, career advancement, etc.?

Proof – How can you back up your offer with proof? 

  • E.g. Do you have case studies, success stories, 3rd party data, or something else to validate your claims?

The goal is to understand your buyers on a deeper level so you can engage them in a meaningful way. It’s about matching your solution to their needs at a human level. You need to show empathy and understanding, and you need to be able to do it at scale.

Once you finish this, you should have a pretty good baseline for engaging your audience. The next step is to figure out what content to send, and when. Using the information from the Persona Matrix, you can now map out content across your funnel. 

Customer Journey Analytics: Content Matrix

The goal is to take inventory of existing content and map it to your funnel stages based on the personas you identified above. For example, you might have a Blog Post or a Press Release that is suitable for people who are in Top of Funnel (TOFU), a Case Study or eBook for people in Middle of Funnel (MOFU), and a Technical Data Sheet for people in Bottom of Funnel (BOFU). Chances are you will have several pieces of content that map to each stage. However, you might also find that you have a shortage of content for certain stages or certain personas. Creating a Content Matrix makes it easy to see.

Now that you have your personas and content all mapped out, you’re one step closer to doing things like building a fully automated nurture program in your Marketing Automation Platform, or developing a winning sales outreach sequence – which means you’re one step closer to rolling out the red carpet for your customers. 

Join 10,000+ customer data thought leaders.

Follow weekly insights at the intersection of GTM, RevOps and data strategy.

Thank you for signing up!