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Embrace the volatility
of your customers’ journey

Ted Kohnen, president of Retina, explains why recognizing the unpredictability
of customer behavior means better personas and relevant content

Go to Google Images and type ‘customer journey.’ You’ll see an amazing amount of design consistency with many images depicting the customer journey as a nice, neat sequential process.


In what world does any audience start at the beginning (for example, the awareness phase) and progress logically and uniformly through interest to consideration to purchase? It never ever happens.

Why? Because life doesn’t work that way. Audiences are constantly bombarded with new information, contradicting information, social and personal influences, economic influences and other factors that throw the linear journey out of whack.

These influences cause audiences to leap forward or back on their journey or completely abandon their journey all together. Importantly, the journey does not unfold in the pre-defined steps articulated by so many agencies and consultancies.



Avoid behavioral red herrings

Successful marketers are the ones that embrace this volatility – recognize it as part of reality and use the tools available to them to work within this paradigm instead of against it (or ignoring it altogether).

If you have not investigated or invested in behavioral data, now is the time to look deeply. There are a number of technology tools out there that will enable you to access data and act intelligently in real time.

If your personas are spot-on, up to date and information-rich, you can create relevant messages and content in advance and act ‘on the fly’. There are tools and platforms available to tell you when you should send, what you should send and who you should send to.

So, stop programming your communications based on pre-defined business rules. Where’s the logic in sending an email every five days or when someone clicks on a link or if they downloaded a piece of content. These are the wrong signals. They’re red herrings.

And, importantly, do not assume that your targets are proceeding to the next step in the customer journey. They may be going to the step before or back to the beginning. It’s important to capture this dynamism to provide even greater predictive intelligence on your customers.


Dynamic personas critical to success

As marketers we need basic demographic and firmographic information on our target audiences, but it’s the personas that provide intelligence on the behavioral and attitudinal nuances of the target audience. And it’s these nuances that can really help your brand break through the noise and deliver a truly meaningful message and experience.

Dynamic personas become the fuel for crafting your messaging, developing creative, selecting your media channels and significantly influencing the type of content you will and want to create.

The weakness with static personas is that they do not evolve as your audiences and market changes and matures. Over time, traditional personas become less of a utility and more space-suck on your hard drive.

Dynamic personas are designed to evolve as data is captured and turned into actionable intelligence. They become an ‘always-on’ tool for marketers, as well as incredibly powerful sales tools, customer service, product development and other internal constituents –
all critical pieces to a successful customer journey.