Creating a Customer Journey from Scratch

July 25, 2018 Jerome Lodovisi

You have purchased Salesforce CRM Sales or the Salesforce Service Cloud along with the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. You want to create a personalized, multi-channel Customer Journey similar to the ones you have seen at Dreamforce, Connections, and other product demos. By now you have seen how easy it is to drag over Decision Splits and Email Activities to Journey Builder, and so you’re feeling confident. But that was the easy part. Customer Journeys involve planning, strategy, and good data.

So, where should you start when building a Customer Journey? Let the following steps act as your guide”

1. Define the Who (externally and internally)

The first steps are to define who is going to be experiencing the journey and what business problem does this journey solve. Perhaps you have fresh survey results saying that your customer onboarding experience is terrible and your NPS scores reflect it. This is a great reason to use Journey Builder.

Also, if you have not already, this is a perfect time to create or refine your customer personas. How can you build out a Journey if you don’t understand your customers, their needs, and which medium they want to use?

Additionally, assign a team member to own the Journey and the entire process. This is often an individual from the Marketing Communications team. However, this person won’t be able to do this alone. You will need the input and participation of many different individuals. (Be sure to set expectations with the sales team, IT team, and C-level executives because you’ll be asking for time and resources.)

2. Map It

Next, it’s time for the fun part ... Journey Mapping! Reserve a conference room, invite your stakeholders, provide whiteboards or giant stickies at your disposal, and get to work.

Seriously, though, this is a key piece of the process. This is when you and your team of stakeholders can diverge and converge on ideas around content, paths contacts can take, and internal processes. 

A few recommendations to ensure you have a fruitful mapping session:

  • Ensure everyone understands the problem you are trying to solve.
  • Be sure to have the IT team present and engaged. The last thing you want is to go to implement a journey and then IT says that your journey isn’t possible with the data from your CRM.
  • Know exactly how and when contacts should be entered in your journey. Meaning, know what data field(s) need to be involved to inject a customer into a journey, and what their values are. For a welcome journey, it could be the first purchase.
  • Set a specific goal during this session so there is accountability around a clear objective. For instance, if it’s a welcome journey perhaps the clear goal is to have 40% of the audience sign up for your loyalty program.
  • Have clear next steps to get questions answered so you are able to produce a final journey map.

3. Implement and Test

Time to get your hands dirty in the product. There are a lot of ins and outs to Journey Builder and it’s important you know how they can affect your journey. For example, do you know when to use Journey Data vs Contact Data in a decision split? Should you use a Data Extension or Salesforce Entry Event? These questions can highlight the fact that Journey Builder is a robust tool and it is important to know the tool or hire someone that does (cough, shameless plug, cough). Otherwise your journey can go very wrong very quickly. The last thing you want is for all that work and time it took to get your journey ready to be implemented to mean nothing.

Also, be prepared to test your journey. I would not create a 30-page testing plan for 30 internal contacts. That sets you up for failure because it’s rare when a journey works exactly the way you want it to after the first pass. Prepare for testing by following your Salesforce Admin’s testing protocol or use “dummy data” to mirror real customers. Also, configure your wait times to five minutes instead of five days so you can meet your deadline!

4. Launch and Refine

Finally, it’s time to launch your Journey! This does not mean you should hit activate and never look at it. This means that you should be monitoring message performance, goal performance, and refining splits and activities in the journey.

Journey Builder is a powerful tool and to quote Uncle Ben from Spider-Man, “with great power, comes great responsibility, It’s essential to have a plan and map in place before implementing your journey so you can avoid doing more harm than good with your customers. The last thing your customer wants is to have a welcome message sent to them after their 5th purchase. 

Feel free to reach out to our Marketing Cloud experts as we offer guidance and consulting along each step of the journey creation process. Our SFDC MC knowledge gurus will be at Dreamforce 2018 this year, so reach out and connect with us to get a free Marketing Cloud demo.

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