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  • Customer Journey Mapping - the Road to Success Dec 13, 2018

    What is Customer Journey Mapping?

    Customer journey mapping (CJM) is a market research method used to identify and visualise the path that your customers take – or are taken along – when they engage with your brand, be it a bricks and mortar store or an online business.

    The Customer Journey Map identifies the different touch points (the points where the consumer can ‘touch’ or interact with the brand) along the journey and details the nature of the customer’s experience at each one.

    The ultimate purpose of the customer journey map is to identify and compare the touch-point-specific experience delivered by your brand with the one required by the customer – based on their behaviours, needs, expectations and capabilities.

    The Customer Journey Map will subsequently enable you to:

    • Pin point the touch points where the gap between the required and delivered brand experience is significant enough to cause customers brand dissatisfaction or even brand rejection.
    • Identify precisely what is required to address the issue from the customer’s point of view.

    Keeping it simple
    In the case of a retail store a simple Customer Journey Map might capture:

    • the route(s) taken by customers as they enter the store, navigate its aisles, find the appropriate sections, select the brands they want, head to checkout, pay for their goods, pack them and leave.
    • The physical, emotional and sensory experience requirements of those customers at each touch point along the way.
    • Any gaps between experience requirement and delivery.

    The impact that individual gaps may have on the customer’s shopping behaviour and attitude towards the brand.

    Breaking down the shopping experience in this way enables the store to understand precisely where the issues are, how significant they are and their impact on the customer’s relationship with the brand.

    If necessary, cost / benefit modelling, combined with further research can then be used to identify the ‘minimum’ solutions – the ones that create happy customers and improve average spend per head, at a cost that is attractive to the business.

    Retail Journey Mapping projects undertaken by Brandspeak have resulted in a broad spectrum of initiatives being adopted by clients.

    At the lower cost end of that spectrum these have included the repositioning of gondola displays and the addition of more intuitive signposting throughout the store.

    More fundamental changes have included altering the store’s layout to make shopping progress easier for target customers, changing the nature of the training given to support staff so that they can focus on the issues of greatest importance to customers, altering the way fresh produce is displayed to make it more appealing, introducing more technology at key points to improve self-service, ‘theming’ of product displays and adding value to the customer’s check-out experience.

    In reality of course, retail customer journey mapping is not nearly as straightforward as the above implies.

    For example, customers will have a multitude of entry points: an advertising campaign; social media; referrals; internet searches; the high street.

    The exit point of the journey will vary too; it may end with the customer making a purchase but it might also end at the Customer Services desk with the customer asking "how do I return this product?".

    Depending upon the entry and exit points different customers will have different journeys and different physical and emotional experiences along the way. Each one of these may have a different effect on the motivational state of your customer.

    How can customer journey mapping help your business?
    Optimising the experience your brand provides is essential if business performance is to be maximised.

    Yet even the most basic customer journey mapping exercise can deliver real value to the organisation by:

    Providing a joined-up, business-wide view of your brand’s customer-facing interactions.

    Identifying those touch points or experiences that are critical to the customer’s overall brand experience and thus offer the greatest ROI.

    Identifying the touch points and experience issues that customers do not find important so that cost in those areas can be optimised.

    Addressing the above can have a significant impact on brand image, reputation and word-of-mouth. Most importantly of all, it can increase rate of customer conversion, customer loyalty and profitability per customer.

    When should you procure customer journey mapping consultants?

    Customer experience design
    The most obvious time is before you design a new customer experience. For example, if your company is about to launch a new service CJM is a must to understand and optimise the customer experience. Implementing a poor customer experience from the start can be extremely costly to fix so save time and money by investing in research during the design phase.

    Understanding the experience of different consumer groups
    Your current CX setup may only be suitable for a proportion of your customers. Consumer journey mapping carried out in conjunction with customer segmentation analysis can help to optimise individual touch points for maximum impact across all customer segments. e.g. how does your current customer experience design impact customers with physical disabilities?

    Improving the efficiency of your customer experience design
    You will most likely already have a customer experience strategy in place. However, your company may be spending both time and money on touch points that do not provide a sufficient ROI whilst neglecting touch points that would give a significant ROI. Customer journey mapping will identify these inefficiencies.

    Business development impact assessment on user experience
    As your business changes it is likely that these developments will indirectly impact it’s customer facing functions. Any substantial changes in business logistics, administration or structure should involve a customer journey impact assessment to monitor the effects of any changes and to make suggestions for changes to your customer experience design in order to ameliorate those impacts.

    How can Brandspeak help?
    Maybe you would like to conduct customer journey mapping but don't know where to get started? Just call us for a no obligation chat - we'd be happy to help.
    thomas.appleby likes this.
  • Brand Tracking - an Essential but Misunderstood Tool for Marketers Dec 7, 2018

    The role of the brand tracker

    The brand tracker remains one of the most enduring and capable research tools available to marketers – when it is understood and used correctly.

    However, in recent years there has been pushback from some companies that feel trackers are too ‘rear view mirror’, only identifying potential, brand related issues when it is too late to do anything about them.

    Many of those organisations are missing the point. The tracker’s purpose isn’t to flag issues before or as they occur - social media listening is one of the best research approaches for this purpose.

    Neither is it the role of the tracker to measure the impact of individual marketing events immediately after they have occurred – a quick, tailored survey will do that job much better.

    Instead, the tracker’s role should be to act as a relatively inexpensive way of evaluating and comparing brand performance over set periods of time, whilst also enabling the organisation to scrutinise the:
    • Effectiveness of its underlying brand strategy
    • Relevance of supposed brand performance drivers
    • Performance of the individuals responsible for brand stewardship
    Based on the above it’s not surprising that many organisations assume that a tracker’s ultimate purpose is to measure the impact of the annual marketing plan and reason that, if there is only minimal marketing activity is taking place, there is no need for a tracker.

    Wrong! There are many events outside the control of the Marketing Department that can influence brand performance – including economic downturn, the activity of competitors and government legislation.

    Indeed, 60 seconds on Google is enough to identify numerous examples of brands that went in to a nose dive as a result of events not of the Marketing Department’s making.

    Consider the catastrophic damage to BP’s brand as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Or the negative impact on Ryanair in 2017 when the organisation had to cancel some 2000 flights due to issues relating to its pilots’ holiday roster.

    Of course, these are extreme examples and neither company needed brand tracking to tell them their brands were in a tailspin. However, they both certainly needed ongoing tracking data to help them identify and implement the strategies required to repair the reputational damage caused and enable them to get back on the front foot.

    Implementing a tracker
    For any organisation that hasn’t yet committed to tracking its brand, the idea can be daunting. In particular, there is the question of exactly what brand data is required and how the business should use it.

    The good news is that these questions are relatively simple to answer if the company already has clarity regarding the:
    • Brand to be tracked: its proposition, features, attributes, segmentation and competitive set
    • Underlying marketing strategy and the metrics focussed upon by the business to both drive measure it
    With this level of understanding it is relatively easy to devise a tracker that is truly capable of both driving brand planning and holding it accountable.

    Broadly, there are 2 ways to go when it comes to deciding on the questions to ask within your tracker.

    The first is to build a bespoke tracker around metrics that are probably common currency within your business already. These are likely to include some or all of the following:
    • Spontaneous awareness of your brand versus those of key competitors
    • Prompted awareness of your brand versus those of key competitors
    • Awareness and relevance of the different elements (features and benefits) of your brand’s offer versus those of key competitors
    • Relevance of your brand’s values versus those of key competitors
    • Purchase criteria (e.g. ease of use, price, innovation etc) for brands in your space
    • Usage behaviour (when and why the brand is used)
    • Frequency of use
    The other way is to buy in to a tracker designed around your research agency’s view of the drivers of brand performance. This can be a route to competitive advantage if it provides your organisation with a view of the world that others do not have.

    But beware! Adopting another company’s brand philosophy and recommended metrics can be a challenge. Not only does your business have to get used to them, it must also get used to the agency’s view of what makes brands tick.

    Frequency and timing
    Frequency and timing depend mainly upon when the company typically conducts its annual planning and budget round. Most companies will do this on an annual basis, meaning that the tracker needs to be reported annually too.

    Ideally, reporting will happen some 4-6 weeks before this occurs, so that there is enough time to consider the implications of the results, set new brand performance targets and identify the specific sales and marketing actions to get there.

    However, larger brands may hold interim brand review sessions on a bi-annual or even quarterly basis, to review brand performance against targets so that they can nudge marketing plans for the next period accordingly.

    In summary, here are some tracker don’ts:

    • Don’t even think about commissioning a brand tracker until you are sure the organisation has real clarity with regard to the component parts of the brand and the key metrics required to manage it. If that clarity is lacking, use an insight agency partner to help you identify them first
    • Don’t launch your tracker until all parts of the business are on board, enthused and up to speed. Otherwise, those who are left behind can become voices of dissent
    • Don’t keep adding to the tracker and turn it in to something that it isn’t. It dilutes its clarity and perceived usefulness
    • Don’t internalise results – tailor the information for different parts of the business but ensure everyone gets regular feedback on the brand they represent
    Brandspeak is a market research consultancy with over 14 years experience of helping organisations with over 14 years experience helping local and global brands to maximise their potential. You can visit us at
  • What are the advantages of using a market research company Jun 12, 2018

    Great research creates great brands

    The ultimate purpose of market research is to minimise risk and maximise ROI, by ensuring the business has total clarity when making important decisions about its customers, brands or service delivery.

    Its not surprising then that most larger, B2B and B2C organisations have a market research budget that adds up to a significant proportion of their annual marketing spend and that they use it to inform decision-making across a whole range of important marketing issues throughout the year.

    But it is surprising that, at the other end of the spectrum, many aspiring and successful £ multi-million SMEs still make no annual provision for market research whatsoever.

    Some believe that they just don’t need it. Others think that it is the preserve of larger organisations with bigger budgets. And there are some that are wary that research agencies won’t understand their business and will produce research results that are overly simplistic and unhelpful.

    All of these assumptions are typically wrong! Any business that has customers will benefit from a clearer understanding of how they think and behave – and what causes them to choose Brand A over Brand B.

    Also, whilst some research agencies are generalists with experience of researching everything from loo rolls to Rolls Royces, others will specialise in areas such as IT, Telco, Financial Investment, Pharma, Healthcare, the Building Trade and the Public Sector.

    The truth is, smaller companies will often benefit disproportionately from the research they conduct because it unlocks a level of consumer understanding that the business has previously not had access to.

    4 key areas in which to involve a market research agency

    Market research can be used to address a wide range of strategic and tactical issues. But there are probably 4 key areas in which market research is most used – and most beneficial:

    1. Defining and monitoring the brand

    The brand is part of the bedrock of any organisation. This is especially true for SME’s because their brand often is the organisation and if the brand fails then the organisation fails too.

    The priority for any SME then, must be to ensure that the component parts of its brand are clearly defined and understood internally, so that they can be articulated externally in a way that maximises brand salience, differentiation and credibility.

    Market research can play a pivotal role in creating this clarity by helping to define the brand’s:
    • value proposition: an encapsulation of what the brand offers and why the target should buy it

    • hierarchy of features and benefits: reflecting the criteria of greatest importance to the consumer

    • ‘unfair advantage’: the individual advantages it presents over the competition
    It can then define the brand’s:
    • positioning statement: a shortlist of core brand associations that ensure the brand occupies a distinct place in the mind of the target market

    • personality: the brand traits to be reflected in the way the brand is communicated

    • essence: a shorthand for everything the brand is and does
    If these brand components are not clearly identified and understood the result is likely to be a confused brand team, a confused target audience – and very possibly a failing brand.

    When they are clearly understood they enable brand teams to create more dynamic brand strategies, based on a clear understanding of what is important and why.

    Moreover, they enable the effectiveness of the individual campaigns to be measured, with the certainty that they are focussing on the criteria of greatest significance to the development of the brand.

    2. Launching a new product or service

    New product or service development is the lifeblood of any business. However, depending where you look, new product and service failure rates are quoted as being between 60-85% - and this doesn’t even take in to account the number of projects that are abandoned before they even get to market.

    High failure rates are due in part to the fact that companies either prefer to leave the target consumer out of the development process altogether – or bring them in at the last minute when their input is virtually redundant.

    There are actually two stages of the development process where market research can be essential:

    A). The Big Idea Stage

    At Big Idea stage the organisation is still attempting to nail down the concept and achieve clarity in relation to some fundamental questions, such as:
    • What is our value proposition – which elements are in and which are out?
    • Who will buy it?
    • What will be its core features and benefits – and will they be relevant or compelling enough?
    • How and when will the target audience use the new product / service?
    • Which brands will it compete with – or replace – and why?
    • What are the likely customer experience / usability prerequisites?
    At the Big Idea stage new concept research acts as a vital Stop / Go gateway, providing the organisation with the customer understanding required to either commit to the project, or walk away before serious money has to be spent during next stage of development.

    B). The prototype stage

    Assuming the project makes it beyond the Big Idea stage a second round of research is recommended at the point there is something tangible to show or demonstrate. The purpose of research at this point is to de-risk the project by (for example):
    • Fine-tuning the proposition and its targeting

    • Clarifying the charging structure and pricing parameters

    • Identifying the format and hierarchy of essential marcoms

    • Evaluating proposed levels of customer experience / support
    New product development spend often runs considerably ahead of budget before the project is abandoned or fails. This can be symptomatic of a project where stakeholders have been using gut feel to inform the development process.

    With so much at stake for the SME, timely use of market research is the best way to ensure new product development is successful – and on budget.

    3. Designing or improving the customer experience

    Happy customers browse for longer. They spend more, return more regularly – and they spread the love! Unfortunately, bad news travels further and faster, so if your customer has a bad experience with your brand the chances are it will be reported even more widely.

    As digital consumers we have all experienced websites that have caused us to moan to others because they are poorly laid out or difficult to navigate. Or because the essential information isn’t where we think it should be, or the checkout process is too clunky and time-consuming.

    And all of us have at some point let off steam about a poor bricks and mortar experience too. Maybe it was due to the store’s layout, the way its fixtures were presented and stocked, the signposting, the attitude and support given by staff, the options for self-serve, the décor, the lack of child-friendliness, the way promotions were presented.

    In this example, customer experience research could involve an assessment of:
    • the route(s) taken by customers as they enter the store, navigate its aisles, find the appropriate sections, select the brands they want, head to checkout, pay for their goods, pack them and leave.

    • the physical, emotional and sensory experience requirements of those customers at each touch point along the way

    • any gaps between experience requirement and delivery

    • the impact that individual gaps may have on the customer’s shopping behaviour and attitude towards the brand
    Breaking down the shopping experience in this way enables the brand to identify the individual issues undermining the customer’s experience at both physical and emotional levels. It enables the brand to understand their individual and cumulative significance and it can be used to identify the optimal solution in each case.

    This provides the brand with the information it needs to undertake a full cost / benefit analysis before deciding which elements of brand delivery to invest in and in which order.

    4. Creating winning marketing campaigns

    Great marketing campaigns create great brands. Mediocre campaigns create mediocre brands. Whilst this is a provocative over-simplification it makes the point that successful brands are rooted in successful marketing.

    It is constantly surprising therefore that so few marketing campaign elements are researched during development – or measured afterwards to determine how successful they have been.

    This doesn’t just apply to TV advertising, it applies to the myriad smaller marketing activities that SMEs undertake, including:

    • loyalty programmes

    • direct mail campaigns

    • email and web campaigns

    • press campaigns

    • in-store promotions

    • roadshows and exhibitions

    • other experiential events
    For example, when it comes to direct mail, email and web campaigns there is much that research can do to optimise response rates. This includes performing a basic review of the ‘usual’ pitfalls waiting to trip-up the unwary marketer:
    • The ‘subject’, banner or headline: is it clear, relevant and impactful enough to gain and hold the target’s attention?

    • The layout: is the content laid out in a way that promises to be easy to read and digest

    • The Five Second Rule: can the reader grasp the communication’s relevance and purpose within the first five seconds

    • The content: is it clear, relevant and motivating? Does it leave the target with real a understanding of what to do next?

    • Images and graphics: do they actually add to the copy – or confuse?
    To marketers these types of campaign often feel like ‘business as usual’ and as a result they don’t always get the level of attention they require.

    The result can be a poorly conceived and poorly executed communication that fails to hit targets. In fact, it will probably end up costing the brand numerous (potential) customers too.

    Getting a research agency on-board

    If this article has encouraged you to get a research company on board, here are few quick tips for ensuring you get real value from your research supplier:

    • Start with a clear view of the research need and objectives. How can research best help you minimise the business risk and maximise ROI in relation to the project you are undertaking

    • Write a detailed research brief explaining the nature of the project and giving all the necessary information. If you don’t know what to include, call the agency and ask them for advice

    • Don’t be reluctant to include your budget. Clients sometimes feel that this will encourage agencies to ‘pad’ a quote. It won’t! Agencies know they will be competing against a number of other agencies and will use the figure you provide to ensure they are offfering maximum value for money

    • Encourage the agency to get to know your business. When you have selected your preferred candidate spend time briefing them and letting them ask questions. The more they understand the more value they will provide in the work that they do for you

    • Be clear and realistic about your timescales – the more time the agency has, the better their outputs will be

    • Think about the type of debrief you need. Think too about whether you need a pre-presentation – essentially a review of the debrief before it gets broadcast to your wider team. That way you can sense-check it for findings or recommendations that may need sensitive handling.
    Brandspeak is a full service Market research company. If you have any questions about how market research can help your business please feel free to get in touch. We have market research offices in London & Bristol and have a truly global reach.
    Albert Watford likes this.