Chief marketing officers (CMOs) who design and incorporate customer journey management as part of their overall activities outperform all others by 54% (24.9% vs 16.2%) in annual improvement on ROMI (Return On Marketing Investment) according a recent report from the Aberdeen Group:

But the respondents to the survey cited that a big challenge is the ability to manage these journeys through content both because there is wealth of competitive content out there and because content production is difficult.

As a solution to this challenge, the report recommends that CMOs provide their teams with the right tools for content excellence that will allow them to easily create the content themselves. However, with the best creative talent in the world and the tools supporting them this will not guarantee that the right and most effective content is produced and no definition is given of “content excellence”. This is because content created without an audience-centric content strategy is just creating content for the sake of a volume target and it is not created with the audience in mind and their current status. It may be creatively brilliant but it may not do anything for your bottom line.

While the returns reported are significant, the report fails to connect the customer journey management to the content that is needed to support that journey and how that should be created. The focus is on data that would allow you to personalise the content and the distribution mechanisms. Readers of the report may be left thinking that this is a great idea and “a must” because of the potential commercial returns but are provided with no clues as to how to put a content strategy in place that will support the customer journey management suggested.

However, if an audience journey map is used to determine what content the audience psychologically needs to support every step of their journey and decision making, then the focus is more on the quality and effectiveness of each item of content and not the volume of content and delivery mechanisms. Production of the right content is achieved when the production process is driven by an audience-centric content strategy that is managed in an editorial way. This means building the ongoing story that is the customers’ journey through the content.

When the customer is engaging with the content, then “next-best-content” for the next step in their journey can be served on whichever channel the customer is in, making for a consistent cross channel experience and making the content strategy itself truly omni-channel. By monitoring the customers’ progress on the journey through the content you can understand their buying needs and the status of our marketing funnel.

With regards to the aforementioned ROMI, by tracking your customers’ journeys it is possible to attribute your marketing efforts to sales through content consumption. This is hard data and proof of your ROMI and not just a response to a survey question.

My conclusion would be to agree with Aberdeen that there are significant returns to be had by mapping your customers’ journey but you need a tool that helps you with the substance of the content that you need to support that journey and not just how to personalise and deliver it.

About the researchThe report was based on data from a survey of 447 marketers at B2B, B2C, and mixed-model (B2B and B2C) companies from around the world (57% based in the Americas, 29% EMEA, 14% APAC).