The Customer Journey

David Edelman, Principal at McKinsey & Company, walks up on stage, smiles, and within 3 minutes of his presentation, tells the audience that if you want to want to get the most from your marketing technology investments, then “you’ve got to go out and get the story”.

Everyone shifts in their seats.

He meant, of course, that as marketers, it’s our job – nay, our responsibility – to go out and get the true, unadulterated story from our customers. The implications shouldn’t come as a surprise, but still, his words wash over everyone in the very large, very filled ballroom.

“I hate acronyms, but I want to add this one to your repertoire: SWEAT. Strategy, Workflow, Engine, Attribution, Architecture, and Talent,” he says as he looks over the audience. Strategy, he explains, includes the process of going out and defining the customer journey. Strategy is dependent on knowing the customer journey as if it were a mantra – especially in all parts of the organization. To arrive at a strategy, Edelman asked himself and his team: “What are the journeys? And for whom? How can we shape them?”

These questions are big ones, but they force departments (especially marketing) to consider every single touchpoint – both online and offline – in the customer journey, and where everyone falls short or goes above and beyond.

The Importance of the Customer Journey

The absolute biggest takeaway from the 2016 MarTech Conference in San Francisco is that the customer journey and the process of mapping it out for your organization is the foundation for all of the technologies, processes, campaigns, and talent that comes after it.  Well, that and that there are now almost 4,000 marketing technologies as shown by Scott Brinker’s newly released 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape. That was the other big takeaway. Literally.

People were literally handing out giant printed copies of Brinker’s MarTech Landscape as a takeaway.

But I digress.

According to a recent study from Econsultancy and RedEye vis-à-vis, “Customer journey analysis is on track to become one of the most commonly used methods to improve conversion rates, and is now rated the most valuable method by users, according to the latest annual Conversion Rate Optimization Report.”


There’s even more studies, research, statistics – you name it – that shows both the popularity and importance of the customer journey. But it goes ever further than that – the customer journey is to be leveraged. Drafted. Studied. It’s important. Damn important if I must say.

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Here’s some others that I found:

A Cohesive Customer Journey Is Critical. Which Technologies Help?
The Truth About Customer Experience
B2B Marketers Seek To Better Understand the Customer Buying Journey
Assessing the State of B2B Marketing
How Customer Experience Leaders Differ From Laggards

More Journey Themes

Edelman wasn’t the only one to break out the customer journey as a part of his talk.

Ashwin Nathan, Sr. Director of Digital and D3 Studios for Frito-Lay, just 30 minutes before Edelman argued that before even doing demand generation, one must study demand generation. It was the crucial key to success. Understanding the buyer’s cycle and their journey and using that data to inform their marketing decisions was how they were going to achieve success for Frito-Lay. And it worked.

Travis Wright, a Chief Marketing Technologist for CCP Global, discussed the ultimate guide for building your martech stack – but most importantly, he vehemently exclaimed the need for journey analytics. All organizations need a tool – but not just any tool – to measure the customer journey. There needed to be some kind of capture for customer experience to enable for innovation and optimization later down the road.

Joseph Puthussery, the Vice President of Digital Marketing for Cisco, argued that in order for Sales and Marketing to be truly aligned, there needed to be an epiphany between the two groups. That epiphany can only be described as the customer journey. The customer journey would bind them together and force the necessary conversations to plan, determine accountability, communicate, and ultimate execute. In order to achieve the perfectly in-sync and in-tune performance group Puthussery had always dreamed of, marketing and sales were going to need to understand the 360 degree view of the customer.

They started with – you guessed it – the customer journey.


As Chief Marketing Technologist at Arke, Chris Spears helps senior leaders align marketing technologies to broader digital transformation and customer experience initiatives. Versed in both technology and strategy, he is uniquely positioned to help clients and prospects understand the possibilities of marketing technology. He is a Sitecore Digital Strategy MVP with experience in web content management, customer relationship management systems, and analytics. A graduate of Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Computer Science, Chris is active in the Metro Atlanta Chamber Board of Directors, the Technology Association of Georgia, the American Marketing Association, the Atlanta CEO Council, and the Institute for Enterprise and Innovation.