In Dynamics 365 Marketing, a Customer Journey is a curated, end-to-end customer purchase process, including all contact and decision-making points. With multifaceted campaign automation, it identifies leads and guides the target audience to move toward purchasing as they interact with your company.
One of its core elements is communication automation, triggered by both specific audience actions and their machine-generated scores based on customizable criteria. For example, our clients have been able to set up branching and responsive event communications based on customers’ behavior, including open and click rates, event sign ups, attendance, and more.
Table of Contents
- Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
- Parts of a Customer Journey in Dynamics 365 Marketing
- How to Create a Customer Journey
- Benefits of Customer Journeys
- Use Cases of Customer Journeys
- Strategic Considerations for Customer Journeys
- Limitations of Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
- Further Resources
Customer Journey: Definition
In general terms, a customer journey describes a prospect’s or a customer’s complete series of interactions with your company across all channels. For instance, a prospect might interact with your social post, browse your website, and sign up for your newsletter before ever talking to a salesperson or making a purchase.
Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
A Customer Journey is essentially a complex marketing campaign in Dynamics 365 with functionality that creates branching maps of possible paths. It includes a drag-and-drop journey designer which contains a dynamic pipeline consisting of steps to send personalized email or text messages, schedule follow up activities for sales team members, trigger workflows, and execute campaign-related activities. As each member of the target segment progresses down the path, their reactions and interactions are tracked in the system, providing insight into the true reach and effectiveness of the marketing initiative.
Parts of a Customer Journey in Dynamics 365 Marketing
Core Customer Journey Tiles
Customer Journey tiles are the building blocks of all Customer Journeys. They include smart segmentation, automatic actions and scheduling sales activities, as well as if/then and split logic with wait and delay times.
- Wait For vs Wait Until
- If/Then Branches
- Custom Channels (talk to your Dynamics 365 partners about development for unique needs)
Real-time Customer Journey Tiles
Real-time Customer Journey tiles are additional tiles that enable “moment-based” marketing, which provides the audience with immediate, personalized interactions based on their unique profile, changing needs, and journey frequency.
- Custom Branching
- Journey Repetition Frequency
- Custom Journey Exit Points
- A/B Testing and Reporting
- Text and Push Notifications
- AI-based Channel Engagement
- Custom Triggers
How to Create a Customer Journey in Dynamics 365 Marketing
- Go to Marketing > Marketing Execution > Customer Journeys.
- Click on “+ New” in the Command Bar.
- To start creating a completely new Customer Journey, click on “Skip” in the template selection dialog box.
- In the Customer Journey designer, click on the “+” or “Set Audience” link.
- Select the target “Segment” that is the audience of the Customer Journey.
- Click on the “+” in the canvas and select “Send an Email” from the menu.
- Select the email tile and then add the specific Marketing Email that you want to add to the Customer Journey.
- For emails that contain a link to secondary location like a Landing Page, go to the “Send an email” tile Properties to add the correct Page.
- On the Customer Journey canvas, add an “If/then” tile to the right of the “Send an Email” tile.
- Set the Source to the name of the Marketing Page in the “Send an email” tile and set the Condition to “have registration”.
- Set the “Wait up to” to the length of time you want the system to wait before executing the action based on no interaction (the “NO” path). This is the longest time the system will wait to execute an action since you will set the wait criteria of the positive (“the “YES” path) interaction in the next step.
- To the right of the “If/then” tile, add two “Send an Email” tiles. Place the one for the positive path at the top and the one for the negative path underneath it.
- Save the Customer Journey.
- Go to the “General” tab to name and schedule it.
- Click on “Check for Errors” for the system to generate any error notifications. If errors are found, click on the drop down next to the error notification to find and fix the errors.
- Click on the “Go Live” button on the Command Bar to publish the Customer Journey.
Video Walkthrough of Customer Journeys
Benefits of Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
Customer Journeys automate the myriad of manual activities that marketers must create, execute, and maintain as Marketing and Sales teams interact with their audience. Marketers can see the specific effects of every executed action including click maps and behavior statistics so they can make informed edits in real-time.
For speedier set up, marketers can leverage basic templates as a foundation for their own journeys. Custom templates can also be created and reused for recurring marketing efforts such as annual events or similarly structured campaigns to ensure both accuracy and speed in the set-up process.
When the marketing team is ready to allow the Customer Journey to run without supervision, AI optimization watches past responses and path changes to predictively guide the right audience members through the right branches. (The journey can still be paused or edited whenever necessary.) This allows a smaller workforce to accomplish the tasks of large department, freeing them up to focus on campaign strategy.
Use Cases of Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
Customer Journeys are very helpful for companies that need to increase their marketing efficacy and increase both Marketing Qualified Lead (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) without increasing head count. These companies are interested in participating more strategically in the customer lifecycle to provide better overall service and create a faster path through the sales pipeline.
Likewise, companies who want to track digital marketing activities against actual revenue and understand which are the most effective at bringing in new customers will benefit from Customer Journeys.
Strategic Considerations for Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
Before you set up Customer Journeys, you should consider how your customers interact with your company and how you would prefer your teams interact. Understanding the variety of paths that a prospect or customer can take to assess and complete a purchase is important to design journeys that provide the proper reactions and next steps for the audience.
After you set up Customer Journeys, you should monitor changes in your lead qualification and opportunity win/loss rates. Then marketers can work backward through published Customer Journeys to find the exact points that are successful.
Ask an experienced Dynamics Partner to help you map the appropriate actions along your customer paths as well as create the tracking dashboards and notification mechanisms that allow your Marketing team to make critical decisions.
Limitations of Customer Journeys in Dynamics 365 Marketing
It’s important to be aware that Customer Journeys can’t create a map of your customer’s interactions for you, nor can it create optimal paths from scratch. Customer Journeys require understanding your prospects’ and your customers’ existing processes and designing paths that are right for each group.
Customer Journeys also do not create system workflows, but they can connect existing Power Automate workflows with the journey to add more complexity.
For broader context, read our Intro to Marketing Automation in Dynamics 365. And for more foundational information on Dynamics 365 Marketing, read our What is Dynamics 365 for Marketing or Microsoft’s overview.
For help understanding how Customer Journeys can work for your company’s specific needs and processes, reach out to a skilled Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing Partner like Encore.
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