We have known for quite a while that customer journey mapping is a game changer. Here’s why, and a guide to how easy it can be.

Predictive customer journeys are very powerful. They are all about affinity analysis, which allows a business to gain insight into what individuals are most interested in and the ways they prefer to explore them – to define what sort of communication they would like to receive from a business, as well as how and when.

Predictive intelligence builds an affinity view of a customer easily and quickly – it allows us to create personalised journeys for individual customers, without all the legwork that would usually entail. It makes deciding on the next step in that journey simple, recommending a time to send a follow-up email to an individual customer and what to include in it, all based on whether they have opened your last email, or on what they clicked.

It makes it easy to do what the ultimate marketer – that one with a team of data analysts – would do.

The ultimate marketer might design a series of connections with an individual, encompassing email, SMS and social, always with one eye on the customer’s last action and the other on their likely next action. They’d set the next contact with a customer, including the timing and channel of the communication, as a result of actions the customer takes – not based on their resources (of course, that ultimate marketer’s resources are boundless!) or their own comms preferences.

Predict the future


This approach to marketing is becoming mandatory – anticipating what people are going to do next and serving them the right content as they arrive at that point in the journey. It strengthens the customer journey and avoids moments that make customers feel disconnected from a brand – like receiving an email from a retailer spruiking 25% off a television set, the day after you purchase that exact set from that exact retailer.

Predictive intelligence should begin the moment you first have contact with a customer. If somebody clicks on a piece of content in an email, then goes into your website and performs certain actions, your system should constantly build predictive scores and identify opportunities.

When this adds up, you know whether a customer’s likely to engage with another piece of content, to open an email, to unsubscribe from an email list, to engage with social media content, to make a purchase at a particular time of day.

And it’s not just for online businesses. Room And Board, a furniture store in the US, has become a market leader in predictive intelligence. They combined a decade of customer sales history and data with predictive intelligence, despite not being sure what the outcome would be.

“Now we look back and [realise] that was such a smart decision we made,” says John Schroeder, Room & Board’s retail business intelligence manager.

That information, with the data collected since, now powers product recommendations both online and instore. And it’s working – customers who engage with the recommendations place web orders worth 40% more than those who don’t. Those who receive online recommendations and then come into a store have an average order value 60% higher than those who do not.

That punt seriously paid off, and quickly – the first-year ROI on predictive intelligence technology came in at 2900%.

“It’s not replacing the in-store experience,” says Kimberley Haase Ruthenbeck, director of web experience. “It’s just complementing the idea that the customer wants to feel like we know them all the way through the process.”

Have you met Einstein?


The next step is artificial intelligence (AI) which, at Salesforce, is a system called Einstein that sits between our platform and our different clouds to personalise and streamline every interaction. AI exists to make the complex simple. There is so much data that it can be difficult to know where to begin, but AI can do some amazing things.

If somebody posts a picture of them playing tennis on Facebook, for instance, AI can analyse what is in that picture and build a pool of data. It knows the person plays tennis, the brand of their tennis gear, the weather at the time, the location of the game and more. It stores that data to help direct further engagement.

The secret to making this type of technology – predictive intelligence and AI – work for any business is in automation. Such automated technology exists. The system offers a huge amount of information that was not previously visible, information that can be used to make good decisions, quickly.

The ultimate marketer would watch the behaviour of every individual and send them personalised communications at the perfect moment, but of course this is not possible. It’s also no longer necessary. Predictive intelligence and affinity analysis does this for you, and that is quite a game changer in today’s competitive market.

To find out more about how predictive intelligence and AI could improve your marketing, check out the ‘Smarter marketing’ chapter of our ebook AI for CRM.