The user journey is the most important part of any digital marketing strategy. It defines the existing location of target audience, the gap between the audience’s current location (PointA) and the brand’s location (PointB); as well defining the individual job for each digital channel to bridge the gap between A and B.
However, it seems that marketing budgets continue to focus on building the destination and not influencing audiences at the start of the journey. This is typified by the attitude of investing in shiny new digital assets, then having to invest in digital advertising to drive traffic.
As social marketers we are much more in-tune with the behavioural science of influencing audiences organically rather than the science of how big the ‘buy’ button is, although that is equally important – it’s just a different subject. The reason is simple; in social media we never controlled the channels and therefore our ability to communicate, rather than broadcast, is much more important than the look and feel of individual assets.
To truly understand the full user journey and the impact of social communications across all influenced channels involves a lot of data, Big Data. ISM already uses around 15 different tools to bring together our core exposure, reach, engagement and user-action metrics from all the platforms. This gives us powerful insights about how the channels work together.
The next stage is educating clients; demonstrating how the whole user journey is affected by each channel, how target audiences behave on the complete digital infrastructure and how individual campaigns influence them over time. With one specialist agency each for Social, Search, Webdev, media and PR this is a daunting prospect in many large brand structures.
Our data is getting bigger and our analysis stronger on a day-to-day basis with a new breed of Big Data toolsets no doubt buoyed by the recent purchases of Radian6, Buddy Media and Wildfire, which were starting to be isolated as individual business. I back the agencies being able to identify and reach out to target audiences organically, rather than those that build shiny new objects and support them with bought media.
Clients need to be bold to challenge the traditional agency structures and patient in building longer-term relationships with potential audiences. I predict those with their communities at the heart of their business will be winners supported by agencies that can identify behavioural change and are able fill gaps in the user journey, wherever they appear.
If you’re communities are becoming stale or your agencies can’t agree perhaps ISM can offer a different approach. I wrote another post on tuning into communities a few months ago and the image for this post is taken from a map of the entire internet, the full version is here