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Omnichannel Marketing
6 min

Mapping the Omnichannel Customer Journey in 2021

In 2021, the way in which the consumer engages with a brand has changed significantly. Marketers need to map journeys across various touchpoints and make sure they work seamlessly. This is at the heart of an omnichannel strategy.

A recent report by Arm Treasure Data and Forbes Insight in 2020 shows that 75 percent of consumers are somewhat or very likely to buy from a company based on their experience. This is regardless of price or product. In fact, 77% consider such experiences to be just as important as the quality of a company’s products or services.

Understanding and mapping consumer experience throughout the journey, then, has become an even more critical part of a marketer’s job. As the Arm, Treasure Data Global Head of Marketing Tom Treanor says: “Companies need to look hard at their customer touchpoints, both in-store and online, and understand what their customers value most and where improvements can be made.”

For consumers in the US, a recent report indicates that the most important factors across touchpoints are:

  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Knowledgeable help
  • Friendly service

To help you to map and design such experiences in 2021, we’re going to cover:

  • Types of channels and touchpoints in 2021
  • How to map the consumer journey
  • The challenges to overcome
  • Some best practice examples

A 2021 survey of business professionals revealed that their top business priority for the next five years was to improve customer experience. Let’s begin our own journey towards this.

Types of Channels and Touchpoints in 2021

A customer’s journey arises from the interaction with various brand touchpoints. In 2020, almost 90% of retail consumers started with digital channels.

This doesn’t mean the role of offline is unimportant. In one study, 78 percent of marketers believed that digital marketing was important to their overall marketing efforts, while 39 percent said the same about offline campaigns.

In the online space, some consumer channels for touchpoints would be social media, e-mail, and advertising.

The role of mobile in online touchpoints has become increasingly important in 2021. More than half of all web traffic is mobile, and a smartphone analytics study predicts a 25% increase in mobile traffic by 2025.

Channels delivering personalized experience to consumers

Turning to offline, some common channels for touchpoints are direct mail, in-store interaction, and mainstream advertising. All the above should be matched with a high degree of customer service for the best results.

in-store interaction with high degree of customer service

On a granular level, consumers can interact with product demos, checkout forms, giving feedback, signing up for subscriptions and notifications, and more.

It’s important for the omnichannel marketer to focus on providing a consistent and frictionless experience across touchpoints. Today’s consumer uses an average of six touchpoints. Nearly 50% regularly use more than four.

How to Map the Consumer Journey

Omnichannel touchpoint mapping consists of outlining all the consumer interactions with your brand. It identifies each step of the buyer’s journey. It allows brands to visualize and link every such experience a customer has.

There are many ways to create such maps, from connected notes to spreadsheets. The process starts with research and data gathering. Consumer questionnaires and user testing are some ways to do this.

From this, consumer profiles can be created. These are the behavioral and demographic characteristics of your main consumers. For example, younger first-time users, older loyal users, occasional users, primarily digital users, and so on.

Based on the main segments, the next step is to list out all the touchpoints that they use. Research should also indicate consumer actions, obstacles, and desired outcomes during the interactions.

retail customer journey

After this, the omnichannel marketer will check for consistency across all of the touchpoints and try to create a seamless experience across all of them. In some cases, touchpoints can be mapped in terms of how they enable the consumer to move up the marketing funnel. There are several factors to consider, such as:

  • Awareness
  • Research
  • Consideration
  • Purchase

Gaps can now be identified and plugged. For example, is customer service lacking in a few touchpoints? Is there a missing touchpoint between sales and after-sales to create loyalty? Is there a touchpoint that does not link to the next? Here’s a powerful way to visualize customer journeys, identify the drop-offs and engage them from one single dashboard.

To sum up, omnichannel marketers can map consumer journeys by:

  • Research
  • Creating profiles
  • Listing and linking touchpoints
  • Identifying and plugging gaps

For more advice on real-time consumer journey mapping and how to make use of this powerful tool to influence customer experience, do read this.

The Challenges to Overcome

As with any other marketing effort to streamline and improve activities, there are certain challenges and constraints to be overcome. An earlier survey of retailers and the omnichannel experience by Price Waterhouse identified some of them.

  • Budgets: Linking and strengthening touchpoints involves an outlay. Often, a business case has to be made for this, competing with other spending such as infrastructure.
  • Data: For an effective mapping of customer journeys, integrated data is essential. This means integrating all the information that could have been collected separately by various sales and marketing functions.
  • Skills and Resources: Over half the companies in a Forbes survey a few years ago lacked the analytic skills and tools necessary to analyze data meaningfully. Upgrading of such skills should be a priority for the marketer who seeks to extract meaning from data to create effective consumer journey maps.

Examples of Omnichannel Journey Best Practices

Here are a few examples of companies that have mapped consumer journeys to make a significant difference:

Use-Case 1: Real-time, Personalized, and Hyper-local Alerts

Use-Case 1: Real-time, Personalized, and Hyper-local Alerts

1Weather is one of the top-rated Android weather apps that provides local weather predictions. It has more than 8 million active users, of which 95% are from the U.S. They had the challenge of understanding consumer behavior and providing real-time, personalized, and hyper-local alerts. The brand noticed lower page sessions within the app due to a lack of re-engagement. By mapping users’ app behavior and location preferences, they increased opens and overall engagement rate. More details can be found here.

Use-Case 2: Integrating An Overview with Navigation Tools

For some time, Disney has been seen as extremely skilled in mapping consumer journeys for an effortless omnichannel experience. The website and apps give you an overview of the attractions to expect and tools to plan your stay there.

Disney mapping consumer journeys for an effortless omnichannel experience

At the park, the same devices allow you to navigate your way around and offer helpful tips to get the most from your time there.

Use-Case 3: Consistency, Creativity, and Willingness to Experiment

Fashion giant Burberry has used some form of omnichannel marketing from the start. They have shown consistency, creativity, and willingness to experiment. They knew that consumers would be looking for Burberry signatures such as a trench coat and tartan design from the beginning of their experience and so made sure these were in focus both offline and online. In their journey mapping, they aimed for consistency. Dedicated customer service accounts and weather advice for fashion were other innovative touchpoints.

Burberry have shown consistency, creativity, and willingness to experiment

What to Keep In Mind

To sum up, omnichannel marketers should focus on providing a consistent experience across touchpoints, integrating online and offline.

There are several ways to map the journey of today’s consumers, and it all starts with research and data. 

Skills and resources need to be upgraded to take full advantage of the omnichannel opportunity. It’s also important to remove data silos to gain an overall picture.

An omnichannel journey is what consumers expect nowadays, and brands need to make it a fulfilling experience. That way, they can be seamlessly moved up the marketing funnel.

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