Read the companion post from yesterday here.

I just returned from a speaking engagement on the topic: “How Data Drives Customer Engagement That Works.” In addition to my presentation, what resonated across every presentation was the clear message of what we, as marketers, need to do to really get better at what we do best – producing superior and consistent results throughout our direct marketing initiatives.  Hank Brigman, a noted authority and author on creating customer-centric organizations, may have summarized it best in his closing keynote address when he described how to build a brand’s customer centricity one touch point at a time.  It’s a topic we are all familiar with but it’s not something we necessarily practice.  According to Hank, you can name the fortune 500 companies on one hand that actually do a great job of providing a superior customer experience.  So, why is it so difficult to get our arms around what it takes to be a customer centric marketing organization?   As Hank pointed out, organizationally, it might just seem to be too daunting a task.  We’re all too busy with our day-to-day responsibilities, no one owns customer centricity, the CEO advocates it but then gets distracted and so it goes, in almost every organization.   But here’s the kicker, it’s EASY to change that cultural mindset.  “Oh no,” we might say, “it takes a monumental sea change to move our organization to truly focus on the customer one channel at a time and one touch point at a time.”  But that’s where we’d all be wrong.  It doesn’t take massive change.  It just takes the discipline we already practice every day, as direct marketers, to make that change one product, one campaign, one channel and one market segment at a time.

So, how do we track what goes on after our DM program has produced a sales lead?  Well, that’s where journey mapping comes into play – yet another topic at the PIMA conference.  Simply stated, journey mapping is tracking the interaction, behaviors and outcome of every touch point DURING the sales process, after marketing has produced a lead.  Think about it from the standpoint of an online engagement.  Let’s say our prospects go to a landing page to get more information or to enroll.  What happens at that touch point?  Do they immediately abandon the page or do they click thru to the next stage to fill-out an application.  What do the communication gaps at that stage tell us about the changes needed to make that engagement more meaningful in meeting customer expectations and continuing the dialogue?  If we use a PURL as part of the response mechanism, we have the prospect’s identity and we can follow-up with an email (if appended or captured) or additional mail piece to gather information from a short follow-up survey about what the prospect liked or didn’t like about the engagement.  We can now make improvements to those online touch points that improve the customer’s experience and, in the process, also make us more customer-centric!

Every journey begins with a single step.  We know this is true from our experiences with every direct marketing initiative we’ve ever undertaken.  It’s also true that we can’t learn it all with just the first step but we can begin the process of learning much more than we know now, one campaign, one marketing and sales touch point at a time.  Let’s try it.  We might just find that we and, more importantly, our customers, like it.