CMO Momentum 2017: What takes to build better customer journeys

From startups to big business: Digital startup Bountye’s founder and MD and Seven West Media’s CDO reveal what it takes to engage with customers across today’s fragmented digital ecosystem.

From left: Asim Brown, Clive Dickens, and CMO's Azadeh Williams
From left: Asim Brown, Clive Dickens, and CMO's Azadeh Williams

Today’s digitally savvy customer is interacting with brands across so many different channels, from email to social to test - and brands are now faced with the challenge of creating a consistent and personalised customer journey across all these various touchpoints.

But looking at strategies across startups to big business, there is no one size fits all solution to a finding that path to 1:1 and a consistent, personalised journey that truly surprises and delights customers.

Speaking at CMO Momentum in Sydney, startup Bountye’s MD and founder, Asim Brown, agreed while the ‘customer journey’ has become a bit of a buzzword, for a startup the strategy starts with acquisition.

“Our company is about providing the right product at the right time, for the right person, and as we are a startup, we need to focus heavily on acquisition,” he told attendees. “So we look at how they interact with us, such as via Facebook or email, and what they tell us through those channels. So in terms of the journey, it’s about first educating them to get them on our platform, and then once they’re eon board, it’s about personalising that experience so they stay on that platform.”

For a more traditional and established business like Seven West, the focus shifts to both customer and stakeholder experience, Seven West Media’s chief digital  officer, Clive Dickens, said.

“We need to just think differently around our consumers, and admit in the broadcast industry that consumer experience is key,” he said. “And as the voice of the broadcast industry on the stage today, I can openly admit and acknowledge that this hasn’t always been the case. So really, it starts with a change of mindset about what business we’re in – and then once you have that mindset, you can utilise the strength of the brand and content and leverage technology as the enabler to rapidly improve both consumer and stakeholder experience. And given our stakeholder and consumer focus, we need to put the whole brand experience first – and that’s important to build a sustainable model for a commercially funded business.”

A non-linear customer journey

According to Brown, startups like Bountye follow a non-linear customer journey path. The early stage community-based mobile platform for secondhand goods offer users the opportunity to donate some of their proceeds to charities or schools and receive a tax-deductible receipt. With a focus on digital-only channels, their user base has grown 20 per cent month over in the first 18 months, with over 60,000 users.

“We’re different to an established business and as a startups today we use around 38KPIs to help build our solution – which is pretty extraordinary,” he said. “From a customer lifecycle point of view, we try to build excellent technology because we think word-of-mouth is the most fundamental marketing solution for us.

“And we also think the lifecycle is non-linear. We can’t approach all our customers the same way – we look at ourselves with establishing ourselves with the least amount of money and the most power.”

Brown, who prior launching Bountye was responsible for developing eBay Australia’s merchant acquisition and integration strategy, which now boasts over 35,000 retail merchants, said aligning with the right retail channels is key to grow a C2C and B2C customer base.

“At Bountye, we align with charities and schools, and establish ourselves through education, acquisition and engagement,” he explained. “We get the user to align with our values and platform, and then we focus on a personalised engagement strategy – it’s about simplifying the whole journey.”

For media content consumption, the non-linear way today’s customers are engaging with their favourites shows has also meant broadcasters need to be more digitally savvy with their approach and redefine what broadcast content really means, Dickens said.

“No one ever says what’s on TV tonight anymore, because now there’s everything you want to watch, all the time, on any device,” he said. “It’s both a massive opportunity and challenge for us, and the lifetime value of the customer is also very different now.

"While we are still a TV company, in 2017 we decided to redefine that friendly acronym of to no longer stand for television in the traditional broadcast sense, but to stand for total video – and we are now a total video company. This means that while we have broadcast at our core, we now go wherever the consumer is – so that’s massively exploding video on demand, livestreaming, social video and most recently, gaming and sports.

"And while platform, brand and marketing are all important in terms of moving the needle – you need to compete, normalise and expectations, but ultimately, you need good, engaging creative content – and commission those all-important ‘hits’.

Mapping out a personalised customer journey

While consumers do appreciate personalisation across the board, Brown agreed there’s a fine line between having an engaging strategy and coming across as too intrusive or ‘creepy’.

“Over 50 per cent of our users use Facebook to connect with our platform, and a lot of information can be gained about our customers from Facebook alone - things like marital status and birthdays,” he said. “But we try to align it at a higher level, and allow users to say whether they’re not interested in a particular product right there in the feed, so it doesn’t feel intrusive and makes them feel they are part of the personalisation process.

Moving forward, it’s important from an engagement perspective to continue to evolve with the client, and not to come across as too creepy. Brown's advice was to think about streamlining and minimising complexities in the customer journey. And that means simplifying technology, too. 

“We look for all in one tech solutions so we don’t want or use 10 pieces of tech, and we’re a mobile only solution so the two solutions we use, Firebase and Appboy, work really well for us,” he said. “Then we can map when the customer comes in, what experience we want them to have, and types of the texts, emails and communications. We picked the tech offering that gave us the most capability and it’s been awesome, it’s streamlined and it allows us to go both  deep and wide in our customer journey.”

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