Understanding the journey that consumers take as they shop, research and make purchases is essential for marketers to be able to optimize their marketing spend and create the best possible experience for their customers. Mapping that journey, means taking a broader view of the interactions that consumers have with our brands, all the way through the marketing funnel.
This means that each customer interaction with a brand provides insights into where that consumer is in their journey and what their propensity to buy or act is at the moment. While performance marketing or lower funnel activity often gets the most focus, the activity and behaviors that consumers exhibit at the top of the funnel also provide valuable insights into their intent to buy and potential lifetime value.
This was the focus of the discussion during a session, “Race to the Top: Identifying Active Buyers Before They Submit a Lead,” at LeadsCon Las Vegas. During the session, Jaimie Pickles, GM of Insurance at Jornaya, Todd Jones, President of Retail Mortgage at BBMC and Eris Seidelman, Vice President for Performance Digital at Universal McCann discussed how brands in the mortgage and insurance industries are leveraging these insights to better understand their customers’ behavior and optimize their acquisition and contact strategies. Learn More.
According to Forrester, “Customer journeys tell us what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling; touchpoints that they use; and people whom they interact with along the way. They are a lens into how customers engage with brands in pursuit of a goal,”.*
In the insurance industry, this is very important as carriers are trying to re-band themselves as a one stop shop, able to provide for all of a consumer’s insurance needs. As these brands expand the depth and breadth of their offerings, the signals that consumers provide during their shopping and buying journey are becoming even more valuable.
As we have discussed previously, these insights not only help them optimize their marketing programs, but also help inform their ideal customer profile. If you can understand the journey that your customers take and the signals they give during that journey, then it is much easier to identify prospects and leads who show similar behaviors and target them with the content and messages which have previously been successful.
As Eric Seidelman shared, “that’s kind of where Nationwide is right now. They’ve got through a lot of segmentation work to identify what this person looks like… so they have a really good understanding of what the ideal customer looks like. But now that they’ve identified that – the challenge is to go out and target the right message for that audience. Not all the way down when they're ready to fill out a lead form or purchase something, but when they're still in that shopping/consideration phase of the process.”
Eric’s team at Universal McCann supports Nationwide’s digital acquisition programs. As part of his work, he is focused on helping them build out a success, program of continuous engagement at all levels of the funnel to progress consumers to become customers, and then cross-sell and up-sell them on other relevant products and services.
Using behavior and intent data from all stages on the consumer journey, marketers can identify customers who have a higher propensity to not only purchase one product or service, but other as well. For instance, customers who are shopping for one product, often exhibit behavior which provides clues into their need and intent to purchase additional products such as life insurance, investments, etc.
In the mortgage industry, brands have similar needs to optimize their engagement with consumers during their shopping journey. As Todd Jones shared, “When someone is gearing up to purchase a home, there’s several things they’re going to need to look at. It’s not just the mortgage, it’s furniture, it’s insurance, and it’s any number of different aspects. You can try to look at the top of the funnel, are they behaving in a way that projects that they might be interested in buying a home right now.”
Using those signals, brands can determine whether a consumer is in market, as well as where they are in their buying journey. As Eric Seidelman commented, “The challenge is when you start to get into some of those behavioral things and the attitudinal things that we’re looking at, it’s more difficult to target someone who likes to gather information and do research prior to making a large purchase decision.”
That is where having the right data is key. Integrating existing data sources with third party data enables organizations to draw insights from consumer behavior to help them identify and target the right consumers at the top of the funnel with the right content and offers. And as they progress in their journey, use that behavior and intent data to score, prioritize and optimize that engagement at each level of the marketing funnel to reduce their acquisition costs and increase their conversion rates.
As Todd Jones shared, “That ability to bring that data in and then to prioritize and to optimize how we approach that specific customer, based off of not only the data they provided, third-party data we append from other sources, but also that consumer intent score, it’s huge. It puts us in a position where we’re putting the right messaging and putting the right resources at the right time, with the most convertible opportunity.”
When successfully implemented, these strategies will not only improve the performance of marketing programs, but also provide a more positive experience for consumers. This leads to higher brand loyalty and customers who have a higher lifetime value.