How to Use Data to Inform and Improve Your Customer Journey

Maia Wells
Customer Journey

Marketers are collecting more and more first-party customer data, especially in the wake of increasing email and advertising privacy regulations. Yet many teams report difficulties when it comes to applying all that data to their marketing programs. One simple way to start? Use your customer journey as a lens to identify opportunities to apply data-driven improvements.

using data to improve the customer journey

Customer journeys, by nature, are centered around your customer experience. They function as your team’s guide to the step-by-step process your audience takes as they identify a problem, learn about solutions, make a decision to purchase, and maintain an ongoing relationship with your business. 

When you look at your data through the lens of the customer journey, you can concentrate your improving the touchpoints that matter most to your audience. This ability to laser-focus is likely why organizations that have and use customer journey maps are twice as likely to outperform competitors than those that don’t. 

Let’s explore some practical, real-life examples of how you can use data to deliver a more personalized customer journey, using a simplified four-stage model: awareness/discovery, research/evaluation, justification/purchase, and retention/advocacy.

Using Data During the Awareness or Discovery Stage

In the awareness or discovery stage, your customer is just realizing they have a problem that needs solving. They want to learn more, and your goal is to educate and inform them through helpful content like blog posts, whitepapers, and eBooks. 

At this stage, look for insights that will tell you how well you’re answering your customers’ questions or making a positive first impression. Some of these data sources include:

Organic Search and Website Behavior 

Look at Google Analytics to learn whether the prospects who find your content through organic search are sticking around on your website. If metrics like bounce rate or exit rate are high for specific pages, it’s a sign your visitors may not have a clear path to deeper engagement after landing on your site. Adding relevant internal links, suggesting related content, or having clear CTAs like a newsletter signup can help improve this early step along the customer journey. 

Form Fill Data 

At this stage, you’re just introducing yourself to your new prospects. If you’re seeing high abandonment rates on form fills for gated content or webinar signups, you may be asking for too much information too early. Keep forms as simple as possible now, and ask for more information later through progressive profiling

Email Engagement 

See how individual pieces of content are performing in email campaigns. When you see high clickthrough rates, consider promoting these top performers in paid campaigns, or give them prominent placement on your website to help more customers discover your best content and move further along their buyer’s journey.

Case in point: when nonprofit organization Education at Work identified a powerful article on their website was underperforming, they changed its placement to make it more visible. In just two months, their media and form conversion rate rose from 6.7% to more than 40%. 

Using Data During the Research and Evaluation Stage

During the research and evaluation stage, your customer understands their problem and is actively trying to solve it by learning about and comparing different solutions. The time is ripe to communicate clearly why your product or service is their best option, using content like case studies, comparison pages, customer webinars, and product demos.

It’s crucial to share targeted information that’s highly relevant to your prospects at this stage. Pay close attention to data that indicates whether your campaigns are hitting the mark, including: 

Unsubscribe Rates

Be cautious about over-indexing on hard sales at this stage, or sending too-frequent emails if prospects aren’t engaging. Keep a close eye on your opt-out rate and pull back on your email cadence if needed. 

Segmentation

At this stage, you should be able to identify attributes like industry or company size through progressive profiling or services such as ZoomInfo. Evaluate whether you’re sending relevant content, like case studies or webinar invites within your prospect’s industry, to communicate your brand’s value proposition to their specific use case. 

For example, The Netherlands-based full-service agency The Marketing Guys uses progressive profiling to gather key information about leads during webinar registrations. They use that data to drive further engagement, such as sending a whitepaper about the key features of marketing automation platforms based on the prospect’s company size and industry. 

How B2B Marketers Are Using Data to Drive Demand

Using Data During the Justification and Purchase Stage

As your customer reaches the justification and purchase stage, they’ve learned that your product is a great solution for their needs, and they’re almost ready to finalize their purchase. Help them feel confident by setting clear expectations about onboarding and adoption, empower their internal selling, and remove friction whenever possible. This is the time to nudge them over the finish line by offering free trials or assessments, and scheduling live sales calls or demos. 

Conversion is your primary focus at this stage, so focus on data that helps you fine-tune your offers and messaging.

A/B Testing 

Ensure you’re testing your headlines, visuals, and templates for landing pages with high-value offers like free trials. Get more data quickly by testing assets in PPC, and then apply the winning concepts across your campaigns.

Lead Scoring 

If you haven’t done so yet, set up a lead scoring program that automatically assigns points to specific behaviors along the customer journey. Lead scoring helps ensure you’re sending the warmest leads to the sales team for one-on-one conversations and live demos, when the time is right. 

Case in point: for cloud service provider interworks.cloud, automated customer journeys and lead scoring work in tandem to track activities and segment their audience accordingly. Every path is designed to guide customers towards booking a demo, which triggers a handoff to the sales team for a personalized conversation. In the first year after implementing these marketing automation programs, the company saw a 20% increase in conversion rate. 

Using Data During the Retention and Advocacy Stage

In the retention and advocacy stage, your customer is now post-purchase. Congrats! But, they’re constantly evaluating whether to renew, upgrade, or refer others to your business. It’s time to measure and improve their satisfaction, drive their lifetime value, and encourage advocacy through feedback, loyalty, and referral programs.

Data helps you know which customers are at risk for churn and which are your biggest fans, so pay attention to metrics.

NPS or Customer Satisfaction Scores

Measuring satisfaction in a systematic way is the foundation for automated retention and advocacy programs. When customers are very happy, trigger automated referral requests. When they indicate problems, enroll them in a nurture sequence that shares knowledge base resources or send them to Customer Support for extra attention. 

Usage or Adoption Data 

When accounts have empty seats or unused features, they’re likely not getting the full value from your product (which leads to higher churn risk). Use this information to trigger education campaigns about overlooked features or nudge invited users who haven’t completed signup or failed to log in for an extended period of time. 

Milestone Data 

Customers appreciate being recognized. Create positive moments of engagement by celebrating signup anniversaries or hitting key usage milestones with special communications.

For example, leading insurance provider RSA Canada uses customer data to power a gamified leaderboard for its brokers, awarding points for specific activities, celebrating achievements, and motivating more activity with tangible rewards. Since launching their program, RSA Canada has seen a 30% increase in overall broker engagement. 

Getting Started With Data-Driven Improvements to the Customer Journey

Applying data across your entire marketing strategy can sound intimidating, but using the customer journey as your guide helps you focus on simply improving one touchpoint at a time. 

And you can start at any stage, based on the needs of your organization. If lead generation is your primary concern, begin at the awareness stage. If churn is a major problem, focus on retention first. The more data you begin to leverage, the more ideas will spark about where to improve next and how to continually deliver a relevant, personalized customer experience.