September 13, 2016

Chasing The Funnel: Creating A Personalized Customer Journey

In the first and second articles of this series, I made the case that the consumer journey has taken an 180-degree turn from being a company-led activity to becoming consumer-led.

I outlined how this shift in power has pushed marketers into uncomfortable positions that require them to find new ways of communicating with target audiences at every stage of a purchase decision. And I introduced a new kind of marketing system that I call the Customer Command Center (below), which is a combination of new tools, skillsets, and ways of working together that are now mandatory to survive and thrive in this new nonlinear purchase path world.

In this final installment, I'll share the key steps that are required to create relevant, personalized customer journeys that drive brand success with the empowered, always-connected consumer.

The Methodology: Crawl, Walk, Run

Big data is all the hype, but it has led many a marketer to a path of confusion and ineffectiveness.

Building and maintaining a personalized digital experience is similar. Marketers are being pushed to define and create personalized experiences, but many greatly underestimate the resources required, the amount of data that needs to be analyzed, and the overall complexity of managing an organization that is focused on personalized marketing. This leads to false starts, poor performing experiences, and ultimately unfavorable ROI.

For these reasons, I recommend a "crawl, walk, run" approach to personalized marketing. While there can be variations of the approach is defined, here are some general parameters I believe apply to most organizations.


  • Select and install a content management system that has personalization capabilities built in or as a separate module.
  • Identify highest potential audiences and create initial personalization journeys.
  • Use minimal elements of overall site personalization, primarily explicit data points.
  • Content creation and testing budgets are a small percent of the overall budgets.
  • Use analytics that can measure interactions on a site and effectiveness of digital advertising across a number of variables, such as creative messaging, placement, etc.


  • Expand personalized content experiences to implicit variables.
  • Target audiences beyond the obvious highest potential to secondary audiences and markets.
  • Employ content and element testing using A/B or multivariate testing tools.
  • Use one-way system integration from websites with enterprise marketing and sales tools to create trigger-based offline communications.
  • Content creation and testing budgets are a more substantial portion of the overall digital budget.
  • Analytics shift to more predictive behavior analysis and are able to measure more meaningful business indicators, such as LTV.


  • Expand personalized content experiences to a larger percentage of the overall website.
  • A baseline of performance has been established and much of the optimization of the experience is performed in real time.
  • Create a multidiscipline team that is dedicated to continuously developing and testing acquisition content and visitor interactions.
  • Use a two-way system integration from websites with enterprise marketing and sales tools; generate interactions based on the entire brand experience of the visitor.
  • Content creation and testing budgets are now an integral component of the overall digital budget and have been justified with ROI metrics.
  • Analytics are critical to every aspect of the digital team, and most sales and revenue loops have been closed to create complete accountability for all interactions (e.g., using location-based advertising tracking services to track when audiences visit a store location after viewing a TV commercial).



Final Thoughts

While the landscape of the purchase funnel has been irrevocably changed, the opportunity for brands to take advantage and create a competitive advantage is greater than ever. Successful brands capitalize on the skill sets, tools, and marketing investments and understand the value of failing fast and breaking the corporate "that is not how we do things" mentality. The brands that are willing to both adapt to and embrace this new model--connecting with consumers at each touch point on their respective decision journeys--are the ones that will prosper in this wild and exciting new ecosystem.

This content appeared previously on: CMO by Adobe