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Customer Journey – It is the Big Picture that Counts

Big events, such as the last week’s OMMA show specialists once more how complex performance marketing can be: a vast amount of communication channels, very different payment models, and new buzzwords. The term “customer journey” suggests a planned journey, however, most of the time it rather resembles a backpacking tour where the traveller goes wherever the whim takes him. However, it is important for advertising companies to who to know where the customers started and what they encountered on their journey.


The goal of every advertiser: being found by the customer

The goal of every advertiser: being found by the customer

To make this topic easier to understand, we will use a simpler analogy. If you think of a conversion on the Internet as a wallet that has been lost, the first entrepreneurial questions would be:

1) How much money was in the wallet (or: what is the shopping cart’s value)?
2) How can I maximise the chances of finding the wallet again whilst not spending more than was in the wallet?

The available tools are diverse and require different effort when implementing them:

  • Person X takes an image of Y’s wallet, hangs up posters in the city, and pays the owners of the surfaces where the posters are displayed. This approach roughly corresponds to the display channel, which is paid either depending to the number of people who see the poster (CPM), or by the number of people who take a closer look at it (CPC).
  • Y invests time to check places where people, who found wallets, can go to (police station, lost and found office, bulletin board). The online marketing landscape in the UK makes this relatively easy. The big “lost and found office” is called “Google”. Here people type the keywords “found wallet” into the search field and should then see the display “the wallet belongs to me”. This is called “generic SEA”. Unfortunately, the analogy ends where the “lost and found office” charges you for every wallet shown before you will find your own wallet.
  • Person Y promises a finder’s fee. And thereby motivates dynamic people with an entrepreneurial sprit (“affiliates”) to look for Y’s wallet. The searchers will now invent various activities, such as hanging up posters themselves and use part of the finder’s reward to pay for the advertising space, or creating their own reference point for the finders.
  • In all of this, you should not forget the important necessities. There might be the owner’s name on the posters, and maybe in the wallet as well. Either way, your name should be in the telephone book so the finder can contact the person, who lost the wallet. Here as well, the telephone book is called Google but the keywords are brand search terms. So if the person knows the name of the owner, he should be able to find him. You have two possibilities: a public entry in the directory (SEO), and/or prominent for a corresponding contribution (SEA).

Admittedly, the analogy doesn’t work a 100 percent to explain the channels’ exact function because in this conceptual model every company loses “its wallet” several thousand times a day.
However, you can still see that “the power” is on the consumer’s side and that they hold the client’s money in their hands. For every customer investments are only worth it up to a certain amount of money, which depends on the content of the wallet.

You can clearly see the dangers an isolated view entails:

1) If you rely on individual measures the probability of success decreases significantly.

2) If you implement multiple activities, a normal performance measurement is not very effective:

a. You only look at the successful activity. The honest finder at the door, the call from the lost and found office. But what if the finder only became aware of the wallet through the posters, and brought it afterwards to the lost and found office? What does this mean for the effectiveness of one’s activities and for how you will approach the next loss? Would you only rely on the successful activity? The last cookie wins principle, which does not allow a real, holistic evaluation of the channels, is based on a similar train of thought.

b. It has also effects on efficiency. If you pay a reward to the finder while at the same time spending on posters and telephone book entries, you need to take into account the entire expenditures.
If you look at your online activities separately and your CPOs in isolation you will never know how much money a conversion has really cost you.

3) The overall view reveals the biggest optimisation potentials. It shows you, which channels are important to maximise your success. This way, you can control the channels’ influence through the compensations. Combined with the keyword “shared conversion”, this topic will be even more important in the future. This means: should people to whom you have promised a finder’s reward (this is especially important in affiliate marketing) not also be (partly) compensated for their work? A fair evaluation of their share to the conversion can only be determined through a holistic view on the customer journey.

One thing is certain: it is a cardinal error to decline comprehensive observation for fear of losing track. What is lost can be found, and you can only find the real overview if you actively look for it.

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