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The Buyer Journey Is Actually Two Buyer Journeys
March 10th, 2016

By Jen Evans, Marketing Futurist

Recently a great model was produced for looking at the intersection of social, content and community, with each component shown as its own neighbourhood. See the graphic below:

Source: Jill Rowley

Source: Jill Rowley

This is a great way to think about the ways in which customers interact with marketing (and companies, especially if you add customer service into the equation). The model jumps a level in utility when you build a measurement framework around it that shows where any particular program is getting the most leverage

More on that later. First, a question – why track? I was on CBC Radio’s “The Current” recently, discussing privacy and the Apple-FBI case with a Queen’s University professor when the topic of data collection and behaviour tracking came up. The amount of data and information being collected on us (as consumers and customers) by us (as marketers) is enormous and expanding every day. Why are marketers collecting this? To understand behaviour and get better at … marketing! It is after all a study of human psychology as much as anything else. Tracking and measuring is a way of understanding and improving.

With the explosion of digital properties, measuring gets both easier (getting data) and more complex (how to make sense of the data). To date, most digital behaviour tracking has been oddly Zen: we look at masses of data in the moment but can’t connect it yet in a framework that really tells a story.

And it is a story of permission. In a world of an unceasingly chaotic buyer journey, there’s really only one metric that is universally applicable pre-consumption, and that is permission.

We make fun of likes and follows as metrics but we shouldn’t. They are permission, albeit at its weakest point on a customer trajectory. A follow is easy but it means connection, and a very basic indication of trust.

We should start to track customer behaviour pre-purchase (or maybe “outside purchase” is a better way to say it). Think about the buyer journey with a company or brand – the majority of it is not buying! It is about building brand and trust, and these are two separate but connected trajectories a customer is on simultaneously.

The customer journey pre purchase/outside purchase – separate yet completely connected- then becomes one of progressively deeper levels of permission, value and trust. From social permission to email permission is a progression. From email opt-in to participating in a customer community is another progression. Email subscribers and community members are also more likely to be buyers.

So if we think again about the social content neighbourhood map, we can turn it into one that is in fact three dimensional, with different layers based on permission. Content is the permeating hub throughout, generating all the value. Calls to action on and within content generate the activity: the bottom layer is social + content, the next up is email, and then at the top is community participation, and transaction, and content co-creation. Each node can be measured and optimized based on permission progression.

Jen Evans

Jen Evans

This is a customer engagement model, and measurement model, that gives structure to an ever more complex and fragmenting content and media landscape.

Jen Evans is a digital strategist and content marketer, the creator and co-founder of squeezeCMM, Digital Fieldwork, B2B News Network, The Bot Registry and Sequentia Group, past chair of the Information Technology Association of Canada, a former tech columnist for the Globe and Mail who made Canada’s Profit Hot 50 two years in a row, and a curious marketing technologist.


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