The SAP Guide to the Customer Journey

Building Customer Trust & Delivering Personalized Marketing at Scale

Do you feel a warm, special glow when you get a marketing email addressing you by name? Do you have a higher level of trust for a brand who would go that far just for you?

Most likely not. So why do we expect our customers to settle for minimal customization?

Research shows that 80% of customers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. But marketers still struggle to personalize content in real time.

Personalized Content Works

78% of consumers say personally relevant content increases their purchase intent.

Content Relevancy Matters

Irrelevant content has 83% lower response rates in an average marketing campaign.

Personalization Drives Higher Returns

Personalization increases marketing spend efficiency by up to 30%.

What’s worse, a majority of marketers are unable to properly identify customers and develop ongoing relationships. They’re missing opportunities and making less effective use of resources.

It comes down to building trust. And not just with customers: It’s building trust with the CEO by demonstrating results, and building trust within your team that you’re creating the right content for the right audience.

To accomplish these goals, marketers need a complete, single view of potential customers, the ability to build relationships for consent-based marketing, and the capacity for continuous optimization.

All of this may sound daunting. But with the right people, best practices, and technology, it’s more than possible.

Dear Valued Customer,

Are you ready to get more from your cloud-based marketing? Read on.

Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, Author, Speaker

“Marketers don't build messages to communicate to one customer, marketers are often communicating to a mass amount of customers. The obstacle to personalized marketing is simply that it's not a priority. According to Business Insider the greatest barrier to personalization is simply too few personnel dedicated to it. Personalization takes effort. It requires marketing teams to go slow to go fast - to think about the one targeted individual customer rather than millions of customers. Marketers must be more thoughtful and come up with a personalization strategy if they want to really build this personalized customer experience.” Click to tweet

- Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Futurist, Author, Speaker

1. The New Customer Journey: Signals & Triggers

Many marketers still think of the customer journey as a straight-line trip through predictable phases: Awareness, research, engagement, evaluation, action. These broad categories are still part of the process, but the journey looks more like a plate of spaghetti than a nice straight path. Customers move in and out of phases, take detours, and rarely reach out to brands before they’re ready to buy.

Personalized marketing seeks to address this non-linear journey by focusing less on stages and more on delivering triggers (content designed to encourage specific action) for specific consumer signals (activities that indicate they’re at a specific point in their journey).

For example, a customer who has subscribed to your blog and downloaded an eBook should receive very different content than one who just opened their first newsletter.

The process of identifying signals and crafting triggers should be ongoing and constantly evolving based on feedback.

Technology can help you get a more complete view of the customer’s journey to identify signals and serve the right content at the right time. Ideally, your solution should consolidate all customer data from across the enterprise into a single view, allowing you to target and segment your audience with higher speed and greater accuracy.

The more insight you have into individual customers and accounts, the better you can determine the right triggers for each signal.

Carla Johnson, Global Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, Storyteller

“Marketers should be using technology that shows cross-device tracking for content. This gives them windows into behavior in a couple of ways. First it lets them know how people access content, which can give them a hint and when that happens in the journey. For example, if you're targeting the oil and gas industry and you see a specific type of content accessed on a mobile device, then that could show that buyers are in the field and comparing product specifics of what they have with what they need.

It also shows where in the sales funnel they're at. In this case it could be late-stage content. But it this were a medical professional, access on a mobile device could mean they are keeping up with industry research while commuting.

With any type of technology, it's important that marketers have a clear purpose with what kind of information it helps them collect, measure or monitor and how that fits into the bigger customer journey.” Click to Tweet

- Carla Johnson, Global Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, Storyteller

Spredfast: Connect Social Media to the SAP Marketing Cloud

2. Consent-based Marketing

Consumers have a love-hate relationship with marketers using their data. On the one hand, people enjoy seeing personalized messages, more relevant content, and more compelling offers tailored to their needs. On the other, we’re all concerned about the amount of data companies are collecting, the potential for misuse, identity theft, or worse.  

It’s not just a matter of how people feel about data anymore, either. There is increasing momentum for legislation protecting privacy. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires marketers and entire organizations to be more careful with data or pay substantial penalties.

Modern marketers need to use data to develop relationships with customers. But these relationships need to be based on trust — on the assurance that marketers will be good stewards of customer data.

Cloud marketing tools can help build that trust by enhancing transparency and giving customers greater control over their data. Customers should be able to see and manage how their data is collected, stored and used.

With the right cloud marketing partner, you can centrally identify and manage customer consent and share that information across the enterprise. This enables a consistent positive customer experience that helps build trust and develop the relationship further.

Annette Franz, Founder & CEO, CX Journey Inc.

“The best way to improve the buying experience is to listen to customers. Don't just ask customers about the experience, listen, as well. There are a lot of different channels and ways for customers to tell you about their needs and desired outcomes and how well you are performing against their expectations. Understanding these expectations and identifying key drivers of a great customer experience are important outcomes of this exercise. From there, it's so important to then use what you heard to design and deliver a better experience.” Click to Tweet

- Annette Franz, Founder & CEO, CX Journey Inc. 

adform: Level Up Your Display Ads

3. Creating Personas for Customized Marketing

How many personas do you need to be relevant to your most valued potential customers? It would seem like the more personas you have, the more relevant your messages will be. However, there is a point of diminishing returns, even with automated personalization.

Yes, you could segment your audience down to the individual and create a message for each person. But properly defined personas will get you nearly the same result, without you having to write millions of personalized messages.

What separates one persona from another is not demographics, job title, age, gender or background. It comes down to the signals and triggers discussed earlier. If Bob the 60-year-old CEO and Sally the 45-year-old CFO have the same signals and the same triggers — that is, if they’re moved to action by the same stimulus — they can be represented by a singular persona.

    How to Differentiate Personas

  • Motivation
  • Pain points
  • Goals
  • Desired actions
  • Role in buying process

Once you create your personas, target each one consistently across all channels: email, landing pages, social media, and display ads.

Mandy McEwen, Founder, Mod Girl Marketing

“The value of personalized emails is clear, but 70% of businesses fall short, which goes to show it’s a lot harder to implement than one would think. At one time, “email personalization” just meant inserting your reader’s name into the email subject line and the first line. Next, smart shopping engines enabled sites like Amazon began to make intelligent upsell recommendations based on purchase history. (In fact, more than 1/3 of Amazon purchases come from their personalized suggestions nowadays!)

But now, personalization is about segmentation - and by strategically leveraging Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, you can easily provide a personalized experience for your audience.

Make sure you are segmenting your lists inside your CRM software based on factors that make sense for your business. For example, if your target market is a business owner, it's beneficial for you to know: Is this individual an established business owner, a new business owner, or an aspiring business owner?

Segmentation also makes it easier for you to send the right messages to the right people at the right time! In doing so, you increase your chances of turning a lead into a customer.” Click to Tweet

- Mandy McEwen, Founder, Mod Girl Marketing

InsideView: Get Account & Contact Intelligence to Truly Know Your Prospects

4. Obstacles to Personalized Marketing

Carla Johnson, Global Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, Storyteller

“The biggest obstacle I see that brands struggle with in personalized marketing is their fear that if they don't show big numbers with reach, that they're not successful. It's what fuels the spray-and-pray mentality. If I can just get my content - emails, banner ads, social posts - in front of enough people, then eventually the right people will see it.

The quest for the big numbers is what keeps people from digging into audience, customer and buyer personas and their behaviors. But to personalize marketing, we have to deliver experiences that have context within the larger customer journey and what adds the most value to people.” Click to Tweet

- Carla Johnson, Global Keynote Speaker, Best-Selling Author, Storyteller

Marketers have the data, the tech, and the desire to take personalization to the next level. So, what’s holding up the process? The challenges range from organizational to philosophical to technological:

  • Outdated Attribution Models - Some marketers are still working from a last-touch model, which makes it hard to show the value of marketing over the entire customer journey. A distributed, weighted attribution model will make it easier to see how each piece of content contributes to a purchase decision. 
  • Data Silos - The more data available to marketers, the more accurate they can be with personalization. It goes without saying that sales data should be part of the mix. But there’s plenty of other data within the organization that could inform marketing, from customer service to human resources and beyond.
  • Legacy Technology - A marketing department with dated technology is, in some ways, worse off than a team starting from zero. Legacy technology can give the illusion of usefulness, while only giving a fraction of the efficiency and effectiveness the latest tools could bring.
  • Product-Oriented Philosophy - The old way of looking at marketing is that it’s about selling products; it’s creating a demand for your business’ product and relentlessly pushing it to people. Modern marketing is customer-based. It’s about creating a relationship based on mutual value that leads to a mutually beneficial purchase. This new mindset is essential for creating personalized content that compels action.

Mandy McEwen, Founder, Mod Girl Marketing

“In addition to using email marketing technology, marketers should leverage the targeting options available in Google Ads and social media ad platforms like Facebook to provide the best personalized experience for potential customers. Geo-targeting, interest targeting - the list of targeting options is abundant. When you leverage these options you can create very specific messaging in your ads to speak to your exact target market, therefore providing a more personalized experience.” Click to Tweet

- Mandy McEwen, Founder, Mod Girl Marketing

5. How Cloud Marketing Enhances Marketing

The term “cloud marketing” refers to a range of software solutions. What they all have in common is using the power of cloud computing to break down organizational silos and conglomerate, store, and make data available in an efficient but secure manner.

Cloud marketing makes marketing more efficient, more relevant to your customer, and more easily scalable. Here are just a few benefits:

  • A Single View of the Customer. You can dynamically consolidate data across your business to get real-time customer profiles across channels. This empowers an improved customer experience, increased relevancy and the ability to personalize at scale.
  • Consent-Based Marketing. You can gain customer trust by offering strong data protection and transparent privacy practices. Customers can opt in to their comfort level of data sharing, and you can ensure consistent enforcement organization-wide.
  • Better Measurement to Drive Optimization. You can consolidate online and offline data into one view to better understand the impact of your marketing. These measurements can help prove the ROI you’re already realizing and drive higher ROI in the future.

The benefits of marketing personalization are hard to deny and easy to measure. According to the Harvard Business Review, personalization can reduce acquisition costs by up to 50 percent, lift revenues 5-15 percent, and increase efficiency of your marketing spend by 10 to 30 percent.

The tools and tips on this page can help you use the power of cloud marketing to personalize your content, build relationships, and earn trust with customers, internal stakeholders, and your own marketing team. Check out the tools we’ve highlighted to get started: