How well do you know your cus­tomers? If an indi­vid­ual approached your busi­ness, would you be able to quan­tify the like­li­hood that she will make a pur­chase? We have the capac­ity to build an infra­struc­ture from direct feed­back and indi­rect cues our cus­tomers pro­vide, one that can define what, where, and how they came to be our cus­tomers. For many of us, how­ever, the enter­prises we serve have yet to estab­lish a solid cus­tomer attri­bu­tion model, one defined by direct engage­ment and indi­rect signals.

Have you built a holis­tic 360 degree view of your cus­tomer? Are you pre­pared to drive prod­uct devel­op­ment based upon direct and indi­rect sig­nals? Some have been suc­cess­ful at adopt­ing a cus­tomer attri­bu­tion model. Let me share the expe­ri­ences of a global mar­ket leader.

The FedEx Approach

Mike Rude, man­ag­ing direc­tor of cus­tomer expe­ri­ence at FedEx for 20 years, sat down with Adobe’s John Mel­lor, VP of busi­ness devel­op­ment and strat­egy, at this year’s Adobe Sum­mit con­fer­ence. He explained how FedEx has tran­si­tioned to not only a global leader serv­ing its cus­tomers but a global leader that iden­ti­fies its cus­tomers’ needs through attri­bu­tion modeling.

Mike told us that FedEx has upward of 30 mil­lion peo­ple per day directly inter­act­ing with FedEx brand. The num­ber of indi­rect inter­ac­tions, how­ever, is eclips­ing direct inter­ac­tions. This has led the com­pany to develop a cus­tomer attri­bu­tion model com­prised of both types of cus­tomer engagement.

What brings cus­tomers to our stores?” asked Mike and his team. To answer this ques­tion, he chose to model cus­tomer inter­ac­tions using indi­ca­tors that could sig­nal cus­tomer pref­er­ences. Once that ques­tion was answered, the next ques­tion became “Which prod­ucts and ser­vices can we develop to sat­isfy the indi­ca­tors embed­ded in our model?”

Mike told us that “well over 70% of deci­sions made about our com­pany are made before they directly inter­act with us.” This drove the need to under­stand clearly what most cus­tomers wanted and how they viewed the company.

So his inter­ac­tive mar­ket­ing group cre­ated the Web ana­lyt­ics to dis­cover needs for change within the FedEx busi­ness model. They began to reveal oppor­tu­ni­ties that could not be uncov­ered with­out the devel­op­ment of a cus­tomer attri­bu­tion model. One exam­ple was the need to pro­vide improved search func­tion­al­ity across the FedEx domain ecosys­tem. Addi­tion­ally, they found that mobile activ­ity, social, and search all present oppor­tu­ni­ties where a cus­tomer might indi­rectly engage with his brand.

As a result of its cus­tomer attri­bu­tion mod­el­ing, FedEx has now deployed an omnichan­nel strat­egy by con­nect­ing its dri­vers, cus­tomer ser­vice reps, and other customer-facing agents. “They are bonded by dig­i­tal,” Mike said. Front­line employ­ees are a part of an inter­con­nected sys­tem that can respond to feed­back and pro­vide input about the direct and indi­rect inter­ac­tions that com­prise the attri­bu­tion model.

As FedEx did, so must we all rein­vent ways to define the cus­tomer jour­ney and the mul­ti­ple engage­ments that occur along the way.

Dig­i­tal Road­block Takeaways

We need to iden­tify and inte­grate direct and indi­rect inter­ac­tions along the cus­tomer journey.

We now have a 360 degree view of cus­tomer pref­er­ences, activ­i­ties, desires, etc. through direct and indi­rect inter­ac­tions. So, how do we use this infor­ma­tion to under­pin our dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing prac­tices? Let’s look at three ways we can rein­vent our mar­ket­ing approach by lever­ag­ing the data we collect.

1. One of the inter­est­ing take­aways from our 2014 Dig­i­tal Road­block report was that 54 per­cent of mar­keters believe the ideal mar­keter should take more risks. While tak­ing risks might seem like a wor­thy goal for other occu­pa­tions (like a stunt dou­ble), I’m not sure we need to take more risks to achieve dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing excel­lence. We’ve got the peo­ple, process, and prod­ucts to enable a rein­ven­tion of our mar­ket­ing ethos with­out tak­ing huge risks. We can shift mar­ket­ing spend to react to infor­ma­tion deliv­ered in mil­lisec­onds, using pre­dic­tive ana­lyt­ics enabled by Big Data. We don’t have to guess.

2. Next, clearly address how we are defin­ing the cus­tomer jour­ney. Nearly 80 per­cent of mar­keters agree that we need to be more data focused to suc­ceed, but just under 50 per­cent reported “trust­ing my gut” as the pri­mary resource for mak­ing deci­sions about mar­ket­ing bud­gets. Through attri­bu­tion mod­el­ing, we are pro­vided with a cus­tomer pro­file that can be tar­geted and fol­lowed through­out the cus­tomer jour­ney. Again, we don’t have to guess.

3. Adopt an inte­grated strat­egy across all chan­nels. More than 60 per­cent of the respon­dents to our Dig­i­tal Road­block sur­vey see social media as the most crit­i­cal mar­ket­ing vehi­cle to focus on, fol­lowed by mobile at 51 per­cent. We all know about the avail­able chan­nels, but we need to be smarter about how our cus­tomers are con­nect­ing with our brand. Mike Rude explained how FedEx must inter­act with cus­tomers on their terms, which change by the hour. First, they con­nect through the smart­phone on the way to work, then it’s the desk­top at the office, and finally, it’s the tablet while relax­ing on the couch.

Why do we need to com­mit to cus­tomer attri­bu­tion mod­el­ing? Because the devil is in the details. Cus­tomers have expe­ri­ences with our brands that are mea­sur­able. Mar­keters must curate those expe­ri­ences, to Mike’s point, in order to develop the prod­ucts and ser­vices FedEx and oth­ers pro­vide as well as to shape the cus­tomer jour­ney to our doorstep.

We must con­trol the cus­tomer jour­ney from first touch point. As such, we need to be proac­tive in uncov­er­ing the steps—both direct and indirect—that are made along that journey.