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This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Michael: Hello everyone, welcome to the latest episode of Ops Cast, brought to you by Mo pros. I’m Michael Hartman. I’m joined as usual by my co-hosts Naomi Liu and Mike Rizzo. Say hello.
Naomi: Hey everyone.
Mike: Hey everybody.
Michael: Today, we are going to be talking about a new topic, one that I don’t think we’ve touched on yet that we’ve probably all heard about or been exposed to or been involved with, called customer journey mapping. And we’re going to talk a little about why that should matter to you as marketing ops pros. And how that ultimately translates into the systems, we tend to support. To do that, we’re going to talk to Lucas and Islin Munisteri of Theia Marketing of a Hubspot consultancy. Lucas is president of Theia Marketing and is an engineer by training which I like because I was also. He found his way into marketing after starting an oil and gas engineering firm. His newly found passion for Marketing led him and Islin to start Theia Marketing. Islin is the VP of sales and marketing for Theia and also has a background in engineering Islin and Lucas, welcome to our show, and thanks for joining us today.
Lucas: Yes, thanks for having us.
Islin: Thank you.
Michael: Alright, we’re looking forward to learning from you guys. I think this is going to be a very interesting topic. Okay so, I’m sure that our listeners being in marketing and marketing ops have heard the term customer journey mapping before. But if they’re like me, I kind of rolled my eyes at that sometimes because I’m just ready to get stuff done. I know there’s some importance to it. Let’s start with a working definition of what customer journey mapping is from your perspective, especially since you service different clients in different industries.
Lucas: Yes, definitely. So for us, customer journey mapping is the process of understanding how your customers gain awareness of your brand and understand that you exist and going through all the different touchpoints that they need to have to becoming an actual paying client with you and then beyond that, how do you keep them coming back, over and over again because the most expensive thing we do in marketing is customer acquisition. Retention should be a given and is one of the cheapest things that we do, but it’s often missed.
Michael: That’s an interesting point. Having been in and around marketing for a while, I haven’t heard that in a long time, the whole thing that it’s a lot cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire a customer. Are you suggesting then that there are at least two components to customer journey mapping, there’s the “let’s get them in the door,” and there’s one for onboarding them and keeping them retained as an existing customer?
Lucas: Yes, definitely. It’s the entire lifecycle of that customer. The bigger company that we typically work with, the more siloed each portion of that process is. So marketing starts living in their silo, sales start living in their silo, service starts living in their silo. And so we’ve all experienced this when we’ve called in for technical support on some kind of system, and they can’t access our billing, or they can’t access something else. There’s some kind of administrative barrier that prevents them. And next thing you know, something that should have been a 10-minute question turns into a day, two days, to get a response and proceed forward. But people are getting very impatient and want a fast turnaround time. A great example and also a horrible example is Amazon. They’re customers first all the time, and if you call them, they will resolve a problem immediately. But in many cases, it’s at the detriment of the seller of the product. And so, if you miss a step and those customers aren’t aware of what their getting or what to expect, you run the risk of losing that repeat sale, so it is important to keep that process as simple as you can so when you’re facing a customer, they don’t have to go run the rabbit hole of how does this get resolved.
Michael: Yes, it’s so true. I think Amazon is a really interesting experience because I’ve done that multiple times. I actually have a weird story where I started having stuff shipped to my house to some person’s name that doesn’t exist. I tried to call Amazon to say this person doesn’t exist, and they said, “Just keep it” I was like, “Okay, what am I going to do with this random stuff?”
Mike: I have a question for you Lucas, this came up recently in an organization that I was working with. How long does it take to define your customer journey map? If you were building one from nothing, how long would you say it should take an organization to map out a customer journey?
Islin: I’ll take a stab at it. For, let’s say, a 5 to 10 person organization, it could take two weeks. Maybe a month. But then, if you have the 10,000 person organization, that’s going to take a bit longer. What do you think, Lucas?
Lucas: We’ve done them where they’ve been done in the course of four hours of man-hours getting it done. And we’ve done it where it’s 300 man-hours and the bureaucracy and touch points, and it’s still not complete.
Naomi: How often do you find that you have to revisit it? Do you find that you have to refine it? Or make edits, or what does that look like?
Lucas: I would call it an evergreen process. It’s always changing. It’s not something you can just set and forget because your customers’ expectations are always evolving.
Naomi: Yes, that’s fair. Is it something that is continually being monitored on an active basis? I am asking this for selfish reasons because it’s something that we’re going through right now. Is it something that you revisit quarterly, or what do you think that looks like?
Lucas: So, I have one customer that we revisit annually, based on his average sales cycle and retention. And we have a couple of customers where we’re revisiting it every month. And it’s a function of addressing a lot of the top of the funnel components around how we are getting people in on the marketing side, but the sales piece and the service piece are pretty static.
Michael: Yes, that makes a lot of sense. What’s interesting is this reminds me a little bit of lead scoring, we’ve all probably been through lead scoring somewhere, and it’s really interesting to me because people think it’s the only time I’ve got to give you an answer about what do I think is most important and drive leads score or whatever and one of the things I’ve learned to do over time, and it sounds like it applies here too, would be, this is something we’re going to do, were going to put something in place but know that we’re going to try to monitor it on a regular basis, whether that’s annually or quarterly, or whatever makes sense for that business, and we’re going to adjust it as we learn. I think that’s a really important thing for all of us. You used the phrase “Keep things simple” That’s something I try to do because it’s really to get caught up in all this cool way we could do this and the eighty million different variations of the process we could do. Let’s keep it simple and let people make decisions on the front line.
Lucas: So I’ve got to go down a rabbit hole real quick. I’ve got a client that has the “oh shiny syndrome,” and he constantly wants to buy new tools and new marketing gizmos to add to his marketing tech stack to bring customers in. And it drives a lot of vanity metrics. Things like views and clicks and things like that. He’s getting a lot more exposure, but it’s not moving customers. It’s not moving dollars sold. And so, if you don’t understand that customer journey well enough, you start adding a bunch of things, and in some cases, too much information is bad as well. You end up putting it in the state of decision paralysis. An example I was thinking of before we got started is, imagine if you’re trying to get somewhere and your GPS says, “You can turn left here, or you can turn right in 500 feet.” You lose this. Where am I going now?
Michael: We all want a sort of a definitive answer, I think. Tell me what to do next, or at least give me some rules to follow. So let’s take a step back a little bit and get an idea of what is a customer journey map. Let’s go back to the audience, who are generally marketing ops folks who may or may not have been involved in customer journey mapping or may have wanted to be involved. Why should we care as marketing ops folks about customer journey mapping in terms of what we do?
Lucas: On the marketing side, it’s very fundamental. We deal with it all the time as far as the top of funnel offers, middle of funnel offers, the bottom of funnel offers. Those are portions of our customer journey. But we want to understand on a holistic view how all of those play together to the person that views it, becoming a paying client. And there’s a twofold side. You have the content that your customers are exposed to, but then you have the tech stack and the systems you put in on the backend to maintain, so a good example here is Salesforce. They are the sales leader tool. Pretty much everyone knows Salesforce. However, to run Salesforce, you need a salesforce admin and teach people to maintain the system, where you go to a simpler solution, let’s say Clickfunnels. That’s kind of an entry-level, cheap-level option. It can do a lot of stuff to bring people in. However, maintaining the man-hours to run it becomes cost prohibitive to scale and so you want to try to right size your systems so you can track the information that allows you to move the needle. And if you don’t understand what you need to be monitoring and how people are coming in and where they’re going, it’s really hard to build that tech stack that allows you to be where you want to be.
Michael: So that brings up another question for us: there’s documenting customer journey maps, which I assume you’ve got some preferred tools and techniques that you use, and that would be interesting to hear what those are. But then, how does that translate into your processes and systems across the different functional areas. I’ll ask two parts: how do you approach documenting, are there any tools you recommend or anything like that or methodologies? And then, what do you see? You mentioned Lucas, right-sizing your technology, so I know you guys do a lot of HubSpot stuff, is there a way you approach it from a HubSpot standpoint vs. other platforms?
Lucas: I’ll let Islin take a stab at the first part of that.
Islin: As far as right-sizing the system, I recently talked to a CRM provider today. Yes, some people don’t fit the HubSpot starter, but they also don’t fit HubSpot professional suite either. They’re in between and a service business, so they were like, this is where our service fits in. But I think as far as the customer journey mapping solution. We like using Lucidcharts to map out the entire customer journey completely. We did one for a nonprofit recently, and it was like 100 steps. To get from someone coming and filling out a form, they had to notify other people, and it was quite an, obviously, a journey, but we definitely recommend using Lucidchart.
Mike: It’s so interesting. Are you building customer journeys based on channels? Or are you trying to, with each of your clients, do you start with where do you market first? And then start building a journey, when you say touches or clicks or interactions? When you say 100 steps to get somewhere, are you saying, “Cool, when someone comes in from PPC, they clicked an ad, they hit this page, they filled out this form, they clicked this button, then they did this, this, this, and that’s just one channel? Or are you building journey maps that are thinking more broadly than that? Where does it start?
Lucas: Mix of both. So we always work at the front and then go backward. We’re always identifying what is the conversion action we want to take or the goal and go backwards. And so the one Islin is speaking of is specifically the journey map is over 100 steps for once someone fills out a specific form through them becoming a customer, fulfilling an order and this is where your tech stack becomes important. This is where it addresses how we notify staff and different employees that need to get something done and notify vendors that we need to have this piece in place. And so the process of making sure that we have all of the things that need to happen beginning to end, in order. And then it goes back beyond that in many cases, to fill out that form, there might be many channels that lead to that one form.
Mike: Got it.
Lucas: And so each one of those channels is going to have different touch points and different processes, and at some point, they are going to come together but think of it as a fork in the road. We’ve just got lots of forks that start to spread. The closer we get towards the awareness phase of I have a problem, that where it’s very, very tall as far as the different options to enter
Mike: And so as you move farther away from the goal up to the top of the funnel, there are a lot more branches funneling down in. You’re trying to map out all of that.
Lucas: Exactly. You don’t even have to use Lucid. You could use any type of charting, drawing tool. Sometimes we just start on a whiteboard and use about a dozen different lines.
Mike: I recently learned about Wardley Mapping. Have you heard of Wardley Mapping? I personally had not heard about it until just a couple of days ago, and it actually came from our episode with Juan we just did last week. We happened to mention it from our call. It’s actually fascinating, but it’s all focused on the customer. I’m going to do a terrible job of explaining this because I watched it today, and it’s a 3-minute video. But it’s all about the customer, and then along the bottom line, it’s taking this customers discovery process, from like genesis, all the way through how are they finding you to how are they going to continue to interact with you throughout the rest of their interactions, kind of an impressively complex way to map out a customer journey but it might be something worth looking into. It feels like a Lucidchart.
Lucas: I like Lucid just because there are no boundaries, I can pretty much put what I need to down, and we’ve tried a few of those tools in the past, and they’re really good at addressing that 80% but that 20%, it’s like, I wish it could do this.
Mike: Like every other look in my tech stack.
Lucas: Exactly. I’d say lucid gets the 90%, so it’s the closest, but it’s not what I would love to have.
Mike: Gotcha, cool.
Michael: All I know is this is a lot better than trying to share Visio documents across an organization, so things like lucid charts, my organization will use something like Miro, these online sorts of collaboration, whiteboard things are great. Not advocating anything in particular, but I think that space is a pretty interesting one. It’s been a good time for it. I thought of something that just sort of popped into my head as we were talking about this. I think it has a place in this, and I told you I kind of roll my eyes a little bit too is another kind of thing I hear about are personas. Everybody wants to document their personas, like. I’d love to hear your perspective. How do you differentiate between personas and journey mapping, are they two sides to the same coin, or are they different things, or are they related?
Naomi: I have a question on personas that I’m going to piggyback on after you guys respond.
Lucas: Personas are an interesting beast because sometimes multiple personas can go down on a journey as long as they have the same consideration, trust steps, but you end up with certain people’s personas. It comes down to one-to-one conversion. One of the reasons we like HubSpot as a platform is because we can do dynamic content insertions on landing and web pages. So if someone’s a certain persona, the messaging changes every subtly to address their concerns specifically, but the challenge comes in as AB testing and KPIs and reporting, so you may have 5 or 6 personas for your business and so the website copies changes ever so slightly. Still, you got to be very careful because you have an AB test, and you have two personas. You now have eight variations of that same page. So it very quickly becomes something that is unmanageable, so typically I would say you want to regulate personas towards fixed content items, ads, eBooks, webinars, things like that’s more locked down.
Naomi: My question is, how do you handle personas where somebody can have multiple personalities, right, so you have a business where the main guy is also the guy who does the evaluation because maybe they’re very technologically savvy, but they’re also the person who does the check signing and makes all the decisions, the person that is talking to support or customer success and most the time these types of people in smaller business, I’m curious how you handle this and how you come across it. It’s a question that I’m raising because it’s something that comes up. Do you basically send them everything, or do you default their messaging to the highest role that it could potentially be, but then there are downfalls to that, so I’m curious?
Lucas: So for us, we would say you have Jeff CEO, and then you have Bob Owens, the company owner. They have very different personas because the person who runs or the decision-maker or the check signer at an enterprise or a mid-market deal has to deal with bureaucracy and the decision points are very, very different along with that consideration phase then a small business owner, their decision point might be going and talking to their wife or their brother. Not necessarily going and talking to a key stakeholder.
Michael: Naomi, I think what your getting, because I’ve seen this too working at larger companies is I see two things, one is, mixing personas, like a person and their particular role in an account categorization on more of a company level, there’s a little bit of a mix there, I think what you were specifically talking about is somebody at a company at any given point in time may be acting under persona A, like I’m an influencer, and at another point, they may act as a decision-maker. And maybe it’s on the same transaction or the same deal, but it’s on two different projects, and they have different roles. Are you talking about that, like how do you address that kind in real-time almost?
Lucas: Yes, I mean if they’re on, let’s say they’re an enterprise company and they’re going after project A this person is the decision-maker, and project B, they’re the stakeholder. You got to be careful because you don’t want to overwhelm people with content. And I’d say that’s tricky to manage, and it’s really going to come down to a case-by-case basis. It would depend upon what are they trying to buy, what are they are pain points you are addressing
Naomi: Maybe a small business is a persona in and of itself, right? Where you have those people who can cross multiple roles and not only hold the decisions but also the people you would negotiate contracts with, maybe that’s a persona in and of itself, right? And once they kind of move out of that, then maybe there’s two different types of customer journey mapping.
Lucas: If you’re serving multiple market tiers, we break down the customer journeys for the small business market tier vs. an enterprise. Because the decision-makers in that process are very different, you would end up with multiple different processes they could go through to get to the end.
Small businesses are always a rodeo because you never know what you’re going to get. We’re fairly small, and there are things where I decide and pull the trigger, and 48 hours later, I have this pain point [solved]. And there are other things where I’m six months I know I have this pain point, and I don’t have the bandwidth to address it. So the journeys are very erratic for small businesses because you’re not just dealing with a pain point. You’re dealing with budget, overhead, and what they can handle bandwidth-wise. Where enterprises typically have more buffer to manage to take these things on, your sales cycle for an enterprise is always going to be three months plus. Unless you have a very clear offering to solve their pain point, I’ve never seen one go lightning fast.
Islin: And then there’s also the RAPID framework for decision making that you get from Project Management Institute that you see being used in those midmarket enterprise companies, too. So you need like not going just for personas, your seeing whos the recommender, who agrees, who’s performing and who’s just providing input, and who’s the ultimate decision-maker. You need to group all of those people together in a room when you’re making the decision-making process for midmarket and enterprise. It’s not just a simple one person makes a decision, and they go with the software. There are multiple people involved.
Mike: Without a doubt. I’m wondering how; I mean, obviously Naomi, Michael, and I have questions about this, and we’re all marketing ops people, and I’m wondering how much of our listener base and audience, this is where I wish our show were still live so we could get the people interacting with this at this very moment.
But at the very least, just tying it back to when you’re doing customer journey mapping, the two of you, Is the output of this, as you think about it as an ops person, is it to create visibility across the organization? Is there any type of output that shows up as a marketing ops person? The reason why you would be sitting in the room during this discovery process is a little bit about finding the right tools to pull through the right data and touch the customer without overdoing it. Don’t purchase too much tech. Is there something else that the output of the customer journey map that says as a marketing ops person, I need to be aware of these things because I now need to service my internal organization when they come to me with a request I need to be able to push back and say hey this doesn’t fit, is it anything like that?
Lucas: Yes, when we do this, it’s a pretty considerable output for the most part. And it has what technology you’ve been using, where are we handling data over between systems, how are we handing that data over, which systems are the master record for certain data types, who’s responsible for what, what happens.
It ultimately becomes a business process document on top of just a customer journey. I’m not sure if any of you guys are familiar with a company called Circuit City. They went out of business about a decade or so ago because they never took care of their customers. They had this mentality of, “They have to use us.”
And we’re in this day and age where information is so prevalent and available our customers don’t need us anymore they don’t have to work with us, so you have to lead with what makes sense for the customer, so that’s why we start with the customer journey. And we make sure that business process, systems, technology, messaging, marketing, all of those things are layered and structured in such a way that the customer has an outstanding experience.
Mike: Right. That makes sense. We offer the marketing ops template on the website, and we gave about 100 copies of those away today in a campaign, which is awesome. So it sounds like you’re actually doing it. Your customer journey exercise takes everything from the customer’s perspective touchpoint and gets down into what technology enables all of these different touch points and delivery mechanisms. Then you’re identifying the master data model, and you’re actually doing a master data dictionary exercise. And then you’re eventually getting to a place where it’s all documented. It sounds like my marketing operations playbook really needs to be overhauled. I should probably just consult with you guys. Because clearly, I am not doing enough to provide a great role model to the listeners. But It sounds like this is a really robust thing going from customer down into data dictionary, which is pretty impressive.
Lucas: A little bit about me that we didn’t hit on. My background: I started off in oil and gas at a Fortune 500 company, and the challenge there was process, and the processes were so poor that people were, I wouldn’t say embezzling money, but they were spending the company’s money for personal things that no one had line of sight to, and no one cared. But it was costing millions of dollars a year, and I very quickly became aware of databases and structure and information and all of these things. I was able to take my job and reduce it to an excel spreadsheet in a few months because of the consistency and the data that we had. And so, as long as we are willing to take the information that we have, we have the ability to learn and adapt to change. Marketing is very rich with data and information around our customers. So the more we can use that to give them a better experience, the better we’re going to perform as a business, the happier our clients are going to be for working with us, and then the happier the customers are going to be working with our clients.
Michael: I think the point everyone should take away from this is to do this right, we’re not going to get in a room for two hours, we’re not going to do Visio or this chart, and then we’re just done. There’s a lot more that goes into it, so you get the most out of it. We had a little bit of this conversation with our last guest where we talked about customer experience, which I think overlaps with the idea that buyers are way more in control than most organizations believe they are. I literally talked to a vendor yesterday, and it’s somebody that I worked with, and I said, “If I’m interested in your stuff, you know I could just go to this community and go ask what other people are paying, and I could find out,” and they said, “Go ahead.”
And this is a person that I trust anyway, the point being: if you think you’re in control, you’re not putting pricing on your site. People get around it nowadays. They know how to do it; communities are a part of it.
Lucas: I’d say you can’t hide anymore. We all get the arrogant salesman who thinks they control the cards, and it just pisses us off. It’s like, I know I have all this information—a little anecdotal story. At the beginning of the year, I bought a new car. I knew what I wanted. I knew the model, with no questions. Pre did the loan app with the dealer. I showed up. It still took me seven hours to leave the dealership with my new car. I would have walked out of there.
Michael: Before I did the internet, I had to do everything over the phone. At that point, I was in the walking cast. My wife dropped me off. I thought I had a deal done. I had to call my wife and have her come pick me up because they were changing things. Nope not going to do it
Lucas: And for us, the BS was ten more minutes, ten more minutes, until seven hours later. And I said, “You’ve already got my trade-in, so I can’t just leave.”
Mike: So, for all of our software users, the moral of the story is don’t let them know that you’ve already forfeited your subscription to your marketing on a mission platform.
Lucas: There are a few marketing enabling platforms out there that they do still take that approach, they give you the intro version for free or low cost, and if you want to get your information out of it, it costs you an arm and a leg., And so even part of the tech stack selection is making sure you pick something that if you know you’re going to outgrow, you understand what it takes to get out of it.
Islin: They tell you always to control the conversation, but nowadays, buyers have so much data in their hands and everything already from G2, Amazon, and Google reviews. They already know what they’re getting. By the time they’re on a call with you, they’re like, I just want to see if you’re a good human. Do I want to buy from you?
Mike: That’s why we do the no BS demos on the website, Mopros.com. We talk to the providers to cut through the noise because nobody likes talking to sales. We want to answer the questions that we care about, and we just want to get to the bottom of it, and I want to decide if I want to take the next step. I was with someone earlier today who’s looking to do a little bit more in the North American Market, and you’ve got this audience of Marketing operations professionals. What do you think? And I was looking at your site, and I will tell you that you need to put pricing on it. If this is a persona you want to sell to, I will venture to say that almost no one is okay with pricing not being on the page. You need to have pricing on the page. Just to echo the idea that information is needed, it’s necessary, it’s normally out there, and when you hold it back and control too much of the conversation, it just turns into a bad experience, and then and then your customer journey is totally broken, they’re not going to want to convert.
Michael: No doubt. So let me bring us back. Let’s get out of bashing vendors now. Naomi asked the question about how often do you review. A related question I have is, clearly there’s a lot of investment and time and effort, blood, sweat, and tears, if you do it right, get this customer journey mapping thing figured out, get it in your systems, once you have that, if you have any chance of monitoring it you need to know what you; ’re measuring. Do you have any suggestions and how you approach the measurement, any key metrics you like to use when you’re evaluating to get the mapping right?
Lucas: Yes, so I mean, dashboards, I mean, business intelligence or business analytics, the buzzword from 10, 15 years ago was everywhere, it still holds true. You’ve got to understand which metrics are moving your business along. If that’s sales or new customers or MRR or whatever those numbers that move your business forward and allow you to do what you want to do, those are the numbers you want to be tracking on your dashboards.
And then, you want to track the numbers that lead to that conversion. So if you’ve got a direct correlation that says for every 1000 clicks, I get one subscriber, and for every 100 subscribers, I’m going to get one customer, then those clicks matter. But if you’re just looking at views on an ad, oh hey, it showed up 100,000 times this month, that’s such a dynamically changing number that it might not mean anything to you if you’re being successful because it is in front of the right people? And so it’s a good number to have on your dashboard because you can look at that conversion rate and say, okay, this is lower than I expected. And so that’s where, the scientific method here, and I hate to be nerdy, but what is your hypothesis, how are you going to test against it, and what things need to happen for you to reevaluate or consider success. So it’s all about having a process. Suppose you know what’s going to move the needle. We’ll go down a little bit of a rabbit hole.
How much do you know you should spend on a CPC ad? Do you just pick a number that feels good? So I go a step further. I look at how much did my client make that month for revenue, how many views, how many clicks? And I’m doing math all the way back to determine my maximum CPC value. If I’m spending more than $2.50 a click, he’s losing money with his conversion rate. Now, if I can go anywhere under that and I’m safe, but that’s my threshold is what I can still make a profit margin under. It’s the same thing with building your dashboards. What numbers are moving your business, and for me, it’s sales calls. The more sales calls I can get on, the better I’m doing, but I want to make sure I have a good close rate.
Michael: I think what you describe, I think all the micro-conversions along that journey. If you can start to impact all of them positively, it will multiply the effect. So we went deep on this one. This has been a really fun conversation. Lucas, Thank you for joining us today. If folks want to connect with you or learn more about what you all are doing, what’s the best place for them to do that?
Lucas: So on our website, which is www.theiamarketing.com
Michael: Well, thank you all so much and Mike, Naomi. Thank you as always, for keeping us honest here. And thank you to our listeners. As always, we ask you to subscribe, rate, review, give us your feedback, send us your ideas for topics and guests or if you want to be a guest, great. We’re going to call it a wrap, bye everyone.