GPS Lessons - The Customer Journey Shouldn't Go Off-Roading

So there you are, barreling through the woods at 40 miles per hour, deftly sidestepping tree stumps and animals. Rivulets of mud coursing along your windows, you forge ahead like a madman, tethered to nothing but time and desire. Sounds exhilarating? Not if you're in a cramped station wagon with an angry family trying that "new shortcut" to Grandma's. Road trips can be fun, until they aren't. So you get a map. But realistically, you're either using a digital navi like OnStar or Google Maps. Unless you plan on getting lost. While that can be fun, it comes at the expense of a purpose. You're really just wasting precious gas.  The same logic can be applied as you start to understand your customers' journey. In this scenario, you become more than their vendor. You can become their trusted adviser: you are their GPS. Do you want your customer's journey to be a waste of gas?

And how do you determine if you're about to run out of gas? You use a set of analytics that's aggregated into a gauge on your dashboard. And how is that dashboard populated? Its populated by usage monitoring sensors in your tank and throughout your engine. Fueled by analytics. This is the same as monitoring your customers' journey. Sure, you've created a path for them, but how do you know they're staying on the path? How can you be absolutely sure your customers haven't veered off into the ether, blazing a trail on someone else's page? Look at the numbers. Having a system in place to monitor digital or usage analytics is critical. Usage metrics will highlight the most popular regions of your page, as well as potential problem areas or redundancies. 

Begin somewhere. Like with all things, customer journey or experience management is a process. One can dip their toes into free or open source projects that will get you started - no need to jump in with both feet at first. There are a number of free sites you can start using today to give you an idea of the impact that impressions can drive to your site. Using Shortened URL sites like for every one of your links is a great place to start. That way you can measure the reach of your influence as well as determine the channel impressions came from the most. As you gradually begin to understand how to measure digital success you'll start to expand into to more adventurous (and effective) methods and tools. But it all starts somewhere - there's no excuse not to be able to measure some manner of success, especially when you have an easy and open toolset at your disposal.

Its important to have a system in place to manage or at least to monitor the customer journey. Failing that, it is important to conduct periodic A/B testing on your website. One of Stephen Covey's most salient pieces of advice is applicable to this case: "Begin with the end in mind". Know at any point that everything (and I mean everything) on your page should guide the customer to a predetermined end, whether that is awareness, action or a purchase - there should not be wasted energy on extravagances. What is an extravagancy, you ask? Simple. If something leads you off the page without a specific return call, delete it. Otherwise, you may lose them forever.

A transaction can be a whim. Don't let whim take it away. When you create a campaign, regardless of the channel (video, media, direct, etc), always ask yourself this - If I received this from my competition, would I do something about it? If the answer is no, don't do it.

Creating brand awareness is important. But awareness without purpose is just noise. Don't create SPAM fodder. This isn't an insurmountable task. All it takes is a few minutes a week to try and navigate your own site - try logging into the site from a new browser. Java apps don't load? Could be a problem for some die-hard Chrome or IE users. Does your Instagram page have a trackback link to your site? How about your Facebook? Every digital channel should lead the customer back home. Otherwise, you're just educating then flinging them aimlessly out into the void. 

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