Many of us have vivid childhood memories of the old family road trip. Of course, whether they are fond memories depends on if it was “Destination: Disney”, or cross country to Uncle Dan’s.
Yes, the long road ahead was daunting, but Mom and Dad were well-equipped with the state-of-the-art technology of the day to help them: the trusty road map. Surely you remember it – crisp, colorful and neatly creased – a navigational thing of beauty.
What could go wrong?
At the start of the journey, the map remained in the front seat, carefully consulted and well maintained. But it was just a matter of time before the map made its way into the back seat – or worse yet – the rear of a station wagon – the parent no-fly zone, the wild west of childhood automotive habitats.
Despite the best of intentions by you and your siblings, boredom and creativity soon took over. The map became a fort, a Japanese fan, an airplane, a bull horn, a plate for countless snacks, and ultimately a floor mat.
It wasn’t until a wrong turn that Mom or Dad would pull over, find the map and attempt to fold it back up to figure out where they went off course. Five minutes and a few choice words later, the best they could do was fashion something with more sides than a tetrahedron and thicker than a hubcap. A crumpled shadow of it’s former self, that map was no longer quite so useful.
That was then, this is now. Right? Not so fast.
As digital marketers today, we strive to position our brand as the destination. To accomplish this, we too rely on a roadmap – our plans – and the latest and greatest technologies to track the customer journey, chart its intersections and study the conversion pathways.
But if we’re completely honest with ourselves, even today, with all our data, careful monitoring and dashboards for our dashboards, we still get lost from time to time. While the road map is clear, the actual road trip can be unpredictable and even bumpy.
Whose journey is this anyway?
Like the kids, our customers don’t always follow directions. They turn left when we want them to turn right. They blow past the toll booths we thought they’d stop for. We open the front door, they run in the back. The very pipeline of engagement data that is the lifestream of customer insights and personas, can at times become as clogged as a ten-mile backup.
The key is to remember that it’s not our journey, it’s theirs. It’s our job to connect with customers along the route by resonating with their wants and their needs – where and when they want – and to have the sensors in place to know when we’re off course.
Kids will be kids and customers will be customers.