Why digital marketers must drive the customer journey

The changing customer buyer experience is putting marketers in the hot seat for engagement

Handing off customers, from marketing to sales to customer service, seems a bit jolting in today's digital world. These days, customers own the online social relationship, and they don't want to be passed around like a hot potato. They demand one group guide them through the customer journey.

More often than not, this group is the digital marketing team.

Death of a salesman

Already there are signs that marketers are pushing out salespeople. Forrester predicts one million B2B sales jobs will disappear in the coming years, as customers research and purchase goods online. At DEMO Traction in San Francisco last week, many startup tech companies said they don't even employ salespeople.

On the post-sale side, a fight has broken out on social media between marketers and customer service pros over control of the customer relationship. Customers don't want to pick up a phone and call customer support anymore. They want answers online, where marketers hold sway yet aren't good at providing customer service.

"Initially seen as an outbound channel for marketing, social media soon also saw consumers seeking customer service, something marketing teams were ill-prepared to handle," writes Forrester analyst Ian Jacobs in a brief entitled Take Social Customer Service Beyond Your Own Walled Garden.

Digital marketers need to see clearly

As marketers expand their influence along the customer journey, they need to know what this really looks like. The holy grail at the end of customer journey is a customer advocate who wields a social networking bullhorn. How to get there? Bluenose, a customer lifecycle management vendor, has put together an infographic that at least gives marketers a big picture.

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