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What are small businesses doing about user journeys?

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“We've been talking about user journeys for 5 years,” he said. I held my breath. “But we haven't done anything about it.” Ah. This happens all too often.
And not just with personalised user journeys.

The idea of introducing personalised user journeys can be daunting for small businesses. But it’s vital they do.

Large businesses and charities in the UK are leading the way in user journeys through data segmentation, multi-channel delivery and marketing automation.

We may not be able to compete with multi-nationals but we can certainly learn from them. Big brands are pulling in customers with beautifully coordinated personalised user journeys: emails with information specifically for you, personalised URLs that use variable images to fit your demographic, direct mail with a discount code on the product you want – grabbing your attention in a busy marketplace.

And that’s what it’s all about. Small businesses fail when they can’t get the attention of their prospects.

“Ok, ok, we know user journeys are important - but, with a small staff and limited marketing resources,” he said. I tried to interrupt, dreading the next sentence. “We’d rather just send a newsletter out to prospects once a month.”

Ouch. That hurt. I should really stop pulling my hair out.

I do empathise though. No, really. Those of us who work in small business - we have to pick and choose our battles and automated marketing just ain’t one small businesses want to fight. But it’s vital they do.

Introducing marketing automation is a big step – it takes time to audit your data, segment your audience, write messages to different demographics and pick variable images to suit them too. It changes processes, it redefines marketing strategies and it, of course, requires a bit of financial investment.

That’s just what it is though – an investment.

By investing in prospects and customers and the user journeys they take, the ROI of automated marketing is going to reach sky high levels.

Take that newsletter. It’s either crammed with so much useless information it goes straight to the unsuspecting recipient’s ‘Promotions’ or ‘Other’ folder or, most likely, ‘Spam’. If, by some accident, the recipient stumbles upon it, sees the word ‘Newsletter’ - he or she groans right before hitting delete.

If, by some miracle, they actually open it and read past ‘Dear Customer’, they take one look and immediately suffer an information overload at the totally worthless, insultingly impersonal, sell sell sell mess that makes them want to throw down their phone, tab or laptop and stamp on it.

Instead, they just tap unsubscribe and that’s that.

You can probably tell that I don’t like newsletters. And on that note I’d like to invite you to subscribe to mine for the latest on marketing automation technology (I promise they will be personalised).

Anyhow, email newsletters take a little time, and a little money to happen. Is it worth it? No. With a little more time and a little more money, are personalised user journeys worth it? Absolutely.

“Right. So you’re saying I’ve got to ditch the newsletter…?” he asked. I thought I’d made that pretty damn clear. “…in exchange for personalised user journeys.” Bingo!

Too many small businesses are ignoring the power of user journeys, despite the acknowledgement that it’s pretty important. Remember a time before social media? Me neither, I’m far too young…

But buyers have come to expect personalised journeys, it’s why big businesses are, exactly that, big. They’ve capitalised on having a conversation with their customers, interacting with them and supplying them with useful, personalised information.

Why scare your customers away with the classic ‘too much information’ scenario. Ok, you’ve hit ‘send’ on your newsletter to your customers, job done. But did it arrive in their primary inbox? Did they actually open it? Did they read it? Did they find the information that’s relevant to them among all the other crap? Did they respond to your call to action? No. I mean, why would they?

Multi-channel marketing automation provides your customer with the information they want, when they want via a channel that will get their attention. Send them something they want to read, rather than what you want them to read. Send them on a journey that they won’t forget. Build that relationship up. Speak to them on a personal level. Engage them in an awesome campaign, that’s just for them.

Small businesses may see this as a rainy day sort of task. But, with their competitors, big and small, taking the plunge into personalised user journeys and automated marketing, saving time and money, and building trust and loyalty with their customers, it really can’t wait.

It’s time to stop talking about personalised user journeys and start doing.