There is no doubt that creating segmentation and building cohorts matter a great deal when we are exploring the customer journey. These are needed to build the trends over time that we are looking for. We certainly want to know who we are looking at, and also what may have brought them to us or at what time.
But ultimately, behavior matters. So while different groups will behave differently, there are times when similar behavior will trump other forms of segmentation.
“Nearly three quarters (73%) think behaviour has also become a more effective means of segmentation over the past five years.” (Rogers, 2019).
I think this is a very telling statement. It ties directly to the fact that we have far greater control when looking at behavior than when we look at the customer journey.
A few years back, I used to hand-stitch together Customer Journeys, that depending on the process involved, could range anywhere from 4 to 20 steps. We thought that we were doing great work building sequential steps and creating personas and we felt confident we were doing what needed to be done for the business. But in reality, these “journeys” were simplistic at best. They really did not capture the customer experience for every customer. It was too simplistic. What we see is that the customer journey is a macro view, while behavior flow is a micro view. What do I mean by that?
I first started to notice the distinction when looking at Behavior Flow in Google Analytics and Adobe Analytics. Especially today, the behavior flow tends to be much more individualistic than we ever knew. The ability of the person on the journey to change directions needs to be taken as a given. Part of the reason this is true is that we tend to meander or backtrack and rarely use the same path twice. Part of it is because consumers have the ability to do what they want, when they want and in the sequence that they want.
I think today, especially on the tactical level, following individual customer paths is desirable, and this is especially true in B2B. Daniel Lambrou once stated:
- “That’s where we’re moving towards in the digital marketing arena – a segment of one; highly personalised, highly contextual segmentation, based on many multiple facets of your individual interests.”
Today, I believe that Daniel is more correct than I would have just a few short years ago. I still feel that trends are important (and love cohorts for that reason). But I recognize that we have an incredible capacity to watch individual actions in some analytics packages.
So instead of just tracking churn and retention, as examples, we have greater ability to do that on an individual level. This, in itself, is remarkable. I saw this to an extent with Heap, which seemingly captures everything. I will be looking for ways to further explore the current tools and will keep you posted!
Rogers, C. (2019, April 16). Why behaviour beats demographics when it comes to segmentation. Retrieved from: https://www.marketingweek.com/behaviour-demographics-segmentation/?nocache=true&adfesuccess=1