A key part of improving your retention and reactivation program is communicating with your customers at the optimum time with the right message to maximise return. But how do you go about doing this? No two customers are the same, their motivations for purchase can vary widely and purchase patterns and the behaviour leading up to them can be very different.

Take gift buying for example. Some people are really organised and buy everything they need for the month in one go. Other people will only consider a purchase in the days running up to the event. Both have the same need, but when you need to speak to them to capture their interest and how will vary widely.

Customer journey analysis breaks down the steps that your customers go through in their relationship with your brand. The best place to start is with your internal expertise. We’re not actually suggesting that you should complete a customer journey analysis without speaking to a customer, but it’s worth mining your internal knowledge first. It’ll give you a framework and a focus for any customer research you do down the line.

Your customer segmentation will more than likely be based on some behavioural analysis and this is a great place to start. Take each segment and map their process looking at motivations, touchpoints and behavioural indicators. Start right at the beginning, before they even heard of your organisation (what put them in the market in the first place?) and work through each stage, through repeat purchase to lapsed and inactive/no longer customers. Speak to your customer services team and your shop floor staff, they probably have more contact with your customers in person than anyone else in the business – they’ll have insights you might never think of, particularly regarding error handling and bringing a customer back into an active state.

There will be a lot of journey crossover between segments, but what you’re looking to identify are the motivations and behaviours that make them different and how these impact on how and when you should be communicating with them.

Once you have your journeys mapped out you’ll need to speak to a few customers to make sure you’ve got them right. But then what??

Now’s the really useful bit – translate the journeys into action flags and communication spots. Identify the behaviour that should trigger a communication and what message you want to convey. Identify how that message should differ depending on the segment and the behaviour and how it should be delivered. Of course you’ll want to run a test program to optimise the communications, feed the information back into your journeys – they’re a work in progress. Finally, you’ll probably want to automate it all – it’s the only way to be truly responsive without giving your campaigning team an impossible job.

In this way we’ve managed to improve People’s Postcode Lottery’s retention rates by 34% – give us a call if you want to see how we could drive improvements in your customer communications programme.