Consumer journey data is an incredibly valuable tool to have in your marketing toolkit… if you have the right data, and use it in the most effective ways. So, what do I mean by “the right data”? I mean authoritative consumer journey data.

Until recently, marketers have only had access to a self-determined lead score for their data, to rate the parts of the consumer’s journey in relation to their own brand and on their own web properties.

Authoritative consumer journey data enables marketers to access data signals across an entire network of websites through technology that serves as a first party, eyewitness to the entire consumer journey. Not proxied data, but first party data collected safely, securely, and specifically to unleash the power of consumer intent.

Act I: Table Stakes

Before I get into the four ways that consumer journey data puts the marketer in control, I need to establish the table stakes:

1. You are enabled to build your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

It’s just shooting in the dark if you don’t start with a deep understanding of who exactly your targets should be ahead of trying to understand those consumers’ journeys.

2. Awareness that there are resources for first party, authoritative data.

There is too much data and too much noise in the marketplace, so many marketers don’t know there is this kind of authoritative data is available.

Once you have those two things in place, you can truly engage with right time messaging throughout the journey. You can differentiate between one consumer who just entered the market and has started to research versus a consumer who has been researching online for three or four weeks. Each way you message to them can be customized to fit where they are in the journey. And to drive this point home, I am not talking about the data you have from your own sites, CRM or marketing automation platform.

Act II: Data Driven Decisions

So, once you are in a position to use consumer journey data, it’s time to figure out where to focus it to put yourself in the driver’s seat. Here are four of the ways in which you can leverage this powerful data to gain control of your brand’s involvement in your consumers’ journeys.

1. Acquire new customers

With access to authoritative consumer journey data, you can go beyond the current method of building “lookalike” audiences and tap into a more valuable source of “act-alike” consumers who are exhibiting the same behaviors along their journeys as those who bought in the past.

2. Cross-selling and upselling existing customers

By tapping into the online shopping behaviors of your existing customers, you can identify when a client is ripe for upsell or cross-sell to increase their lifetime value to your business.

For example, if you are an auto insurer, and you also sell homeowner’s insurance, you now have a path to determine if your existing auto policyholders are actively online engaging in mortgage purchase shopping, indicating that they are looking to purchase a new home. If you had the ability to access your customers’ relevant buying intent in other vertical markets, you would know to target those customers with special offers for homeowner’s insurance. This ability exists today, are you aware of it?

3. Identify “at risk” customers and retain existing customers

Just as you can identify opportunities to upsell and cross-sell, authoritative consumer journey data can also inform you when your existing customers are exhibiting behaviors that indicate that they are considering a switch to a competitor.

Using the same example as in number 2, you could see that an auto insurance client is starting to shop for quotes again. Or, if you are in mortgage, you might see that your existing mortgage customer is researching refinancing options online. A recent new car purchase client enters the market nine months later shopping for another new car, wouldn’t you like to reach that customer earlier in their journey to discuss a repeat loyalty purchase?

4. Match your messaging and content to the stage of the buying journey

The overarching benefit to accessing an authoritative view into the consumer journey is the newfound ability to confidently tailor your messages, content, and marketing tactics to the stage of the journey each buyer is in, as they progress through that journey.

For example, if you identify that a consumer has only just started their journey, you might put them into an email nurture program that provides her with educational content. Or, if the data indicates that the consumer is very far along in their journey, you can contact him with a special limited-time offer incenting the prospect to move from a research phase to a purchase decision with your brand.

With access to this type of authoritative data, the marketer is now equipped with the ability to deploy these types of strategies. When marketers can deploy these well-informed right-time strategies, they gain incredibly precise and powerful control over the consumer’s experience with their brands.

Act III: Self Assessment (Be Honest)

I’ll close where I started, consumer journey data is an incredibly valuable tool to have in your marketing toolkit… if you have the right data, AND use it in the most effective ways. We’ve reviewed the table stakes and some opportunities to optimize or gain efficiency.

How is your marketing and sales machine operating today?

1. Have you mastered your ICP?

2. Are you aware of the ability to tap-into and harness first party authoritative consumer journey and intent data?

3. If so, are you using this data?

4. Or, is your current view into your consumers’ journeys limited to data from your own sites, CRM or marketing automation tools?

5. Are you spending marketing resources on third party data (e.g., demographic, credit bureau, third party audiences) in an attempt to proxy your ICP or build lookalike audiences?

6. If so, are you satisfied with the ROI?

Passionate about the consumer journey, the power of intent, or data-driven decisions in the marketing acquisition funnel? Post your comment below or direct message me. For more insights into leveraging consumer journey data, read our research paper: Jornaya 2016 Consumer Journey Analysis: Dissecting the Path to Conversion.