Solution Architecture
January 26, 2023

Navigating the Customer Journey — Hobbit Style

Everything you can expect to encounter when navigating the long and winding customer journey.

When Frodo agreed to escort the One Ring to Mordor and cast it into the fires of Mount Doom, he knew it would test his mettle. Journeys — especially ones of great importance — do that. Ensuring customers are invested in your e-commerce brand through each stage of their journey can be perilous too.

But Frodo would never have survived long enough to destroy the ring if not for a few trusty tools at his disposal. Frodo has his uncle Bilbo’s sword, Sting, and a mithril shirt. The elves give him Lembas bread. Galadriel gives him her phial of light, which he uses to blind the spider demon in the pass to Mordor. 

And of course, he has friends. When the tides of evil conspire against Frodo, his comrades Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Gandalf and, of course, Sam give him strength. While Salesforce isn’t infused with elvish magic (at least we don’t think?) and an experienced partner isn’t hewing through hordes of orcs or dueling a Balrog to save the day, the triumph of a well-executed customer journey is still glorious.

The Eye in the Sky

A customer journey has several legs, and each presents challenges. Think of Salesforce as a tool to help you determine whether your brand hypothesis is valid. 

First, you need to make sure a customer is aware that they have a problem and that your brand can help solve that problem in the best way. Everyone is inundated with an onslaught of information vying for their attention, so getting eyes on your product isn’t easy. 

It might be tempting to take a “spray and pray” approach, getting as many people exposed to your brand as possible. But that tactic ignores how much money you need to spend to secure customers. With Salesforce’s ability to create lookalike audiences, you can increase the visibility of your brand in areas trafficked by your ideal customer. 

If you sell punk rock T-shirts, it makes little sense to advertise in areas of high visibility if those areas are chalked full of Wall Street tycoons. If, however, you spent less money to advertise on the bathroom stalls of dive bars or vinyl shops, the money you spend will yield a greater return on your investment.

Similarly, time can be an important consideration. Most people drink coffee in the morning, for instance. So, if you sell coffee, it makes more sense to show your potential customers ads in the morning.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud uses first-party data for a personalized experience and leverages service request and email engagement to create ad audience segments and suppress ads to aggrieved customers. The customer service team completes open tickets, reducing customer frustration and allowing your business to be efficient with your ad spend budget. 

Scouring the Lore

Once you have your customer’s attention, you need to ensure they understand what your brand is about. For some products, this leg of the customer journey is straightforward. However, some products or services — like insurance, mortgage lending, or banking — are more complex, so some explanation is in order. 

Even if your product is as straightforward as coffee or clothing, maybe there are some distinctions to your brand that go beyond the typical taste, style and price metrics so common among coffee drinkers and fashionistas. Perhaps you need your customer to understand what else they are getting when they buy your product. Things like your factory’s labor practices, how your coffee is sourced, whether it is organic, “fair trade,” or sustainable all fall into this bucket.

Salesforce can help here, too. Service Cloud can show explanatory articles or white papers to prospective customers detailing all the moving parts of your brand, informing them of the things they need to know before they purchase your product or service. 

The Battle of Helm’s Deep

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, it is time to get the customer to pull the trigger and purchase your product. Salesforce Genie allows you to combine data across all your channels — your website, email, mobile app — to create segments.

With a clearer picture of your customer, you can pull the right levers to incentivize prospects to purchase your product. Marketing Cloud Personalization tracks customer behavior like number of pages visited, allowing you to show them products that interest them or offer discounts to bolster conversion.

“A customer journey has several legs, and each presents challenges. Think of Salesforce as a tool to help you determine whether your brand hypothesis is valid.” @Accelerize360

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A New Chapter

Just because you’ve managed to get a customer to purchase your product, doesn’t mean the journey is over. Even Frodo initially believed his task was to simply carry the One Ring to Rivendell. Upon his arrival, he realized his fate was to see the ring to the fiery mouth of Mount Doom. This twist mirrors the customer journey. We place so much emphasis on conversion, it is easy to forget there is more to the story.

While retaining a customer is far easier than acquiring a new one, there are still some tricks to ensuring someone who has purchased your product stays involved with your brand. Loyalty programs within Marketing Cloud Personalization allow your company to keep tabs on customers in exchange for reward points.

Such programs can track the life of equipment purchased. Whether it is a pair of running shoes or a customized journal, Salesforce can assist in understanding the shelf-life of a product a customer will likely need to replace and keep the buyer engaged until they are ready to replace that product. 

Further, informational articles are updated and made discoverable through chat, global search bar, and even automatically recommended to customers via email. This enables customers to resolve issues without having to speak to a support agent, resulting in a higher level of customer retention.  

An Unlikely Hero

With all these components in place, you position your brand as something that inspires passion in your customer. You forge a bond with them similar to the one between Frodo and Sam or between Legolas and Gimli. This camaraderie is built on mutual respect and insight that the other person (or in this case your company) offers something that a humble Hobbit cannot achieve on his own.

This is a recipe for creating a brand champion, an advocate for your product, someone who carries your message to other prospective customers. Tailoring the customer’s experience to them makes them see the value in buying from you. Showing them content that relates to their purchase, giving them loyalty incentives or offering them perks with your app allows them to see you as a partner in a lifestyle instead of someone hawking wares.  

The Fellowship

Frodo could not endeavor to travel from Rivendell to Mordor alone. He needed the Fellowship. He needed the skills and support of others invested in his cause. This message is one of the reasons “The Lord of the Rings” endures as a timeless classic.

Similarly, an experienced partner can provide the support needed to get your customer to their destination safely, to create a brand champion. One of the biggest values a partner adds is ensuring your system architecture is dialed in. With a deep understanding of Salesforce, a partner can make sure you’re tracking what needs to be tracked and spending your ad dollars the most effectively. 

Think of a partner like Gandalf. He offers sage advice based on a wealth of information. He knows the how, why and where of nearly everything in Middle Earth, but even when the stakes are high — when the mountain pass becomes treacherous and the alternative is facing the fire demon in the mines of Moria — he lets Frodo choose. Afterall, it is Frodo’s journey.

Contact our team of experts. Get your own Gandalf. Get to Mordor safely.