In the first installment of our “Stop Thinking Channels, Start Thinking Journeys” webinar series with our partner, Thunderhead, we sat down with Frans Riemersma, martech influencer.

As Marco Wyler, Director of Consulting at gateB put it at the start of the event, “We’re going to explore how you can take a more customer-focused approach.”

During his talk, Riemersma laid out how companies can better connect with their customers, using everything from journey orchestration software to the Big Five Personality Traits. That talk led into a panel discussion featuring Riemersma, Wyler, and Darren Loveday, SVP of Customer Engagement at Thunderhead.

If you missed the event, here are the key takeaways. Let’s look at the way companies can individualize their communication and their offering to better connect with their customers.

Building valuable connections

Riemersma overviewed the current state of martech, with more than 8,000 solutions available today — not even including the thousands of European solutions that aren’t represented in the Chief Marketing Technologist landscape infographic that gets released each year.

It’s more than enough to capture client information and leads. But, he asks, “We’re learning a lot about our clients and our leads — now what? How do we create and maintain a conversation?”

To that end, he argues that marketers can’t forget that they need to employ soft skills, too. “It’s all about making sure we establish valuable connections with our customers — valuable not just for the customer but also for the company,” Riemersma says.

He presented two options to help companies get at what their customers think and want:

  • The dialogue method: “Communication is a dialogue, but we as marketers all too often go into a monologue situation,” he says. To prevent that, he advocates for using the dialogue method. In this scenario, the company presents a topic — then holds space for the customer to ask the next question. From there, the company can respond, better understanding their customer along the way. “You want a customer journey,” Riemersma says. “Track your dialogue. You need to have some conversation starters — do you know about this topic? Then, you need the next best question.”
  • The Big Five Personality Traits method: This method looks at the traits that all make us human while differentiating us as individuals: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. By using this model, Riemersma says marketers can drill down with their customers. “What traits do we, as humans, share? What makes us unique? Based on that, we can create profiles,” he says.

Layering the human element over efforts to reach our customers makes all the difference, Riemersma argues.

From automation to orchestration

Riemersma’s talk differentiated between automation and orchestration. Automation gets campaigns out, certainly, but it can miss the opportunity to truly connect with the customer. It often means thinking channels instead of journeys. And that presents a challenge for marketers because, as Riemersma says, “We want to understand our customer, but they’re all over the place. They change their mind. They walk away. They go to the competitor. Why don’t they buy our stuff?”

With a journey orchestration approach, Riemersma says companies can better track with their customers. He poses a question to help brands understand their current status here: “If you visualize your client base, is it a funnel, cylinder, or journey? Is it single-channel, or do we move across channels?”

He argues that channel-driven marketing is the simplest form. Data-driven marketing is a step up, at least gathering and trying to integrate customer data. But to truly move with your customer — across their preferred channels and with their ever-changing thinking — marketing organizations need to employ journey-driven marketing.

Webinar-Replay Why the customer should lead: Frans Riemersma, Top#10 MarTech influencer in Europe, talks about the Next Best Question to easily shape Customer Journeys, even before applying data and technology. 

Actionable ways to move toward journey-driven marketing

After Riemersma’s talk, the event pivoted to a panel discussion with Frans Riemersma, Darren Loveday, SVP Customer Engagement at Thunderhead, and Marco Wyler, Director Consulting at gateB. Here, questions aimed to give companies actionable ways to move toward journey-driven marketing.

The panelists were asked how companies can get started with this approach. Loveday responded, saying, “Journey-first has to be predicated on the fact that every journey is unique to the customer. Then, it’s just about listening. Listening to customer behaviors and their signals, and deriving intent from that. Every action indicates the customer’s need or intent. Start understanding your actual customer interactions. That is the place to get started.”

Wyler echoed that, saying, “Customers are already telling brands so much about what they want, indirectly through their interactions. We need to capture that. Listen to your customers across channels. Analyze that. Then, you need to get into the operative business.”

When asked about the maturity of the marketing in terms of journey orchestration, Riemersma said, “I see many clients and companies struggling because they should listen, analyze, and talk back. I don’t see many companies doing all three things.”

As far as which tools to implement to move towards journey-based marketing, Riemersma had a word of caution: “The most important part is to make sure the team is not confused by technology. I often get the question, ‘What is the best tool?’ And I ask, ‘What is the problem you’re trying to solve?’ Determine what problem of the customer you’re trying to solve, and only then look at tools and technology.”

Loveday agrees, saying, “What is the problem you’re trying to solve? If you’re trying to orchestrate the journey properly, then look at solutions that are designed to do that easily.” And if marketers are looking to add the human element to better connect with their customers, Thunderhead can deliver. “If you’ve got the right data and the right indicators, harnessing those soft skills is actually really easy,” Loveday says. 

If you want a way to understand, visualize and manage customer behavior in a channel-agnostic way, it’s time to stop thinking channels and start thinking journeys. And we can help. 

Report: Customer Journey Orchestration's role in digital transformation

Report: Customer Journey Orchestration's role in digital transformation

In this report from our tech-partner Thunderhead you will learn about the limitations of most approaches to customer journeys and how to deliver customer journey orchestration, without the pain!

Download the report on customer journey orchestration.