Journey Orchestration Engines Best Practice Guide
An introduction to journey orchestration
A customer journey is the sum of every interaction that a customer has with your brand. It starts from the first moment they see your ad, through the point of transaction and post-purchase in terms of customer experience and follow up activities.
Customer journey orchestration bridges the gaps between teams and touchpoints to actively manage the customer journey. The process links what once were disconnected interactions into a series of compelling interactions. The goal is to improve the customer’s experience of the brand, not just the product. Journey orchestration helps build customer engagement and loyalty.
For B2B and B2C marketers however, the customer journey has become increasingly complex. This complexity, plus the need to provide great customer experiences across channels and touchpoints, is what’s driving the push for better journey orchestration tools.
The pandemic changed the way consumers shop and shifted people’s priorities in ways that are likely to remain permanent. The path customers take from consideration to purchase is no longer a funnel or a straight line. It’s a circuitous multi-touchpoint, multi-interaction quest that finds your customers offline as much as they are online.
Figure 1: The modern omnichannel customer journey (1)
Understanding and optimising today’s uber-connected, multiple touchpoint customer journey requires businesses to track and analyse every interaction that a customer has with your brand before and after they transact.
And while the breadth and shape of the customer journey is a constantly moving target, many pandemic-inspired consumer behaviour trends are likely here to stay.
Multiple studies indicate that there has been unprecedented growth in global online sales in the last two years. This growth continued even as vaccine rollouts gained momentum and consumer confidence in the safety of in-person engagements lagged. (2)
The at-home economy is also enduring. Consumers continue to prioritise spending on home-focused items and experiences like cooking from scratch, subscribing to digital services, and eating at home.
Journey orchestration focuses on meeting shoppers and customers wherever they happen to be. This means that marketers must be able to stitch data together from multiple sources, measure the business impact of that data, and orchestrate the best experience possible for their customers.
This means that marketers need to gain a deeper understanding of customer journeys to be able to use journey orchestration successfully. This can mean abandoning traditional linear journey maps in favour of more realistic ways of viewing customer behaviour to find the points where marketers can optimise the journey or aid in the decision making process
What is a journey orchestration engine?
A journey orchestration engine (JOE) is a piece of marketing technology that can combine real time customer analytics with real-time decisioning to deliver communications informed by the customer’s needs, whatever the channel or touchpoint. In this sense, a JOE provides the ability to orchestrate personalised journeys for customers based on available data.
Essentially, JOEs enable marketers to manage and curate the customer journey, rather than managing channels in isolation. It looks at certain processes and actions that worked on other prospects - and ultimately turned them into customers - and then suggests them to similar-minded prospects who have not yet been swayed.
The goal of a JOE is to create exceptional customer experiences at the individual customer level, communicating the right message at the right time and in the right channel.
What JOEs do: JAMM
JOEs excel at three critical capabilities; Journey Analytics, Journey Mapping and Journey Management (JAMM).
Figure 3. Customer journey management illustration
- Journey Analytics: Best-of-breed JOEs have measurement capabilities that monitor and report on all aspects of the customer journey. They measure how each individual customer interaction can impact a transaction, enabling marketers to understand the link touchpoints and performance.
Journey analytics can expose potential friction points in the customer journey and opportunities for improvement.
Figure 2: Example of a journey map for a customer shopping for a dress.
AI and machine learning have a role to play in journey orchestration. JOEs use predictive models that optimise digital experiences as customers shop. These models incorporate real-time customer analytics such as customer, behavioural and transactional data to orchestrate communications, interfaces and offers throughout the customer journey in order to optimise transactions, retention and business goals.
“JOEs connect engagement, behavioural and historical data to analyse, map and optimise the entire customer journey. This leads to more efficient and effective marketing management rather than optimising touchpoints or channels in isolation.” - Carlos Doughty, CEO, MarTech Alliance
How JOEs work (SITE)
Advantages of JOEs for Marketing Management
Facilitate business transformation
JOEs help companies manage the many moving parts inherent in the modern customer journey, stitching together different marketing systems, platforms, channels, and initiatives. They allow different teams to understand how their programs and projects impact everyone involved in the customer journey—from product development teams to marketing to sales to customer service.
Journey orchestration engines eliminate siloed marketing management and inconsistent customer experiences by stitching customer data from multiple touchpoints together. A by-product of clarity around the customer journey is the ability to restructure marketing functions to optimise the customer journey and manipulate channel activity accordingly rather than having teams that focus on optimising channels in isolation.
Remove organisational silos
Effective journey orchestration requires multi-team communication and coordination. JOEs remove organisational silos, connecting different pieces of your customer experience tech stack so that everyone’s accessing the same information.
This allows different teams—product, marketing, customer service, sales—to understand the customer journey outside of their own individual bubbles. Removing silos not only reveals stumbling blocks along the customer journey, but it helps ensure that all teams work together to achieve common goals.
Improve journey visualisation
Eliminate data and system silos so you can visualise every aspect of the customer journey.
- Understand your customers’ buying experience (versus your understanding of that experience).
- Eliminate blind spots by connecting all points of the customer journey (which can then be communicated to all teams involved in creating that journey).
Improve journey optimisation
JOEs assume that each individual experience contributes to the whole, so tweaking one step in the journey may have consequences for another step, or for the entire journey.
- Identify friction points within and across the customer journey so they can be improved/optimised.
- Create predictive models based on customer journey mapping which helps make your buyer personas more accurate (and customer interactions more effective).
- Positively impact the holistic customer experience, making customers happy, and ultimately reducing costs and improving revenue.
Improves efficiency and effectiveness of marketing activities
The ability to analyse and quantify each customer interaction so you can understand what impacts your customers (and company) the most.
Advantages of JOEs for customer experience
Journey orchestration takes mapping to the next level by making positive changes that improve user experience, optimise design elements, and ensure the customer’s interactions are streamlined (and appropriate) across the journey lifecycle.
Since a JOE’s inherent benefits include scalability and omnichannel integration, they help you keep the customer experience consistent over time across the entire journey.
Identify & resolve experience roadblocks
The process of journey mapping requires you to navigate and document all customer interactions and touchpoints. Mapping is a necessary component of journey orchestration. It shows how systems, initiatives, data, and people are connected, but it also shows the opposite—where you lack sufficient support or information within the journey.
It provides transparency and insight about what customers are experiencing and helps set the stage for the changes you need to positively impact the journey.
Personalise experiences across channels
Successful customer journey orchestration seeks to achieve peak personalization—customising each individual customer’s journey across every channel. JOEs move away from personalising each separate experience, instead focusing on the interactions that are most relevant in the context of the entire buying journey.
Journey orchestration seeks to improve business outcomes by making customers happy. Increasingly, that means delivering highly personalised customer experiences.
Deliver customised experiences at scale
Ah scalability, the gleaming unicorn of the martech world. Delivering consistently good experiences across a menu of ever-changing channels at the individual customer level is challenging.
JOEs enable you to optimise the end-to-end customer experience by using the magic bullet of martech—machine learning and AI. Platforms leverage ML and AI models to make “next best” action recommendations based on a customer’s past interactions. Journey orchestration tools manage customer interactions across channels in real time, pull data from multiple sources and systems, and use decisioning technology to orchestrate individualised journeys at…you guessed it…scale.
Considerations when selecting a JOE
The perfect journey is a moving target
JOEs can help you optimise your customers’ journeys – up to a point. There are an infinite number of ways customers get from point A to point Z and JOEs can’t account for everything (but, as a whole, they can improve things like revenue, sales, and customer loyalty).
Why do I need a journey orchestration engine? / The business case for JOEs
Journey orchestration equals happier customers which equals more revenue. A report by BCG notes that companies who adopt what they call a “customer journey-at-scale” approach can see revenue increases of 10% to 20%. (3)
Journey orchestration also improves customer advocacy by 20% to 40% and can help companies achieve cost reductions between 15% and 25%. (3)
Where JOE sits in the tech stack
JOEs help you create a unified customer experience, but so do a lot of other technologies. That makes answering the question, “Where do JOEs sit in the tech stack?” a bit tricky. The short answer is: they’re part of your technology foundation, right up there with CDP, data warehouse, and marketing cloud (or, at least, we predict they will be).
Pureplay JOEs are considered an emerging technology. Kitewheel, Usermind, Thunderhead, Alterian, Pointillist, and NICE are some of the major firms in this space, though the landscape continues to shift.
JOEs help align and streamline the tech that’s already in your stack. They support and connect the hybrid and CXM technology that works together to create seamless customer experiences.
Figure 4: MarTech Alliance’s hybrid tech & CX stack
In our 2021/22 Martech Report, JOEs landed at the bottom of the list of martech tools that businesses had added in the past 12 months. (4)
Figure 5: Major martech tools UK organisations plan to add in the next 12 months (4)
JOEs landed a few spots higher on the list of martech tools that organisations added to their stack in the past 12 months.
The fact that they’re so new to the martech landscape combined with some inherent overlap with other tools (we’re looking at you, digital experience platforms) is likely the reason for this.
Figure 6: Major martech tools UK organisations added in the next 12 months (4)
How do I choose a Journey Orchestration Engine?
The JOE landscape is an ever-changing one. Vendor websites contain a wealth of information, with the caveat that is naturally very complimentary of the vendor’s offerings.
Map your use cases
Different use cases lend themselves to different solutions. When considering a JOE, we suggest you look at common business use cases and apply them to your own unique scenario.
Regardless of the use case, it’s important to keep the main benefits in mind before making the final decision about what technology is right for you.
Use Case #1: Digital customer acquisition
Improve customer acquisition across digital channels.
Use Case #2: Offline/online customer acquisition
Improve customer acquisition across offline and online channels.
Use Case #3: Sales enablement.
Empower B2B and B2C sales teams to sell more by optimising the customer journey.
Use case #4: Channel partner orchestration.
Align the most appropriate channels to the most relevant customer interactions.
Use case #5: Revenue optimisation and retention.
Improve revenue and retention by being more customer centric.
Use case #6: Improve cross-channel service and support.
Improve customer service across online and offline channels.
For each of your business use cases you will want to document specifically what you want a JOE to help solve. Below is a framework that may help.
Business use case area
As a <type of user>
I want <some goal>
So that <some reason>
Increase eCommerce sales from first-time shoppers who are hesitant to complete a sale.
Guide customers to resources/information on our eCommerce website that creates confidence in a first-time purchase.
Reduce cart abandonment rates for new customers and create an impactful first-impression.
You can make the above framework more relatable by telling a meaningful story, as follows.
Talia, our Digital Sales Director, is frustrated with the high cart abandonment rate from first-time shoppers on her company’s ecommerce website. She wants to improve the overall customer shopping experience by presenting new customers with compelling content that 1) reduces purchase hesitation and 2) motivates them to complete their purchase after adding items to their cart, and 3) leaves them with a positive first shopping experience.
Talia wants to use a journey orchestration engine to identify new users as they shop on the website and serve relevant content that guides them to complete their purchase (e.g., coupons, social proof, customer service bots, etc.)
She wants these interactions to be customised for each customer journey, with the website reacting in real-time as the customer shops. Her goal is to reduce cart abandonment and increase revenue from sales without increasing her organisation’s costs.
Defining your use cases is key to your RFI/RFP documents proving meaningful to headless/hybrid CMS vendors. This will allow them to understand your exact requirements and showcase how their solution can play this out when they demo their platform vs providing a generic overview of capabilities.
Create a vendor scorecard
Creating a vendor scorecard to evaluate each vendor is the next step. That way you can take a systematic approach to assessing products.
Creating a scorecard involves being clear on your use cases so that you can evaluate whether there is the functional fit between your requirements and the vendor product. You might also need to evaluate architectural fit to understand what technical support is required to manage integration with existing tools. Beyond business use cases and technical architecture, you also need to assess what kind of training and support the vendor will provide.
We’ve created this basic scorecard with suggested weightings to get you started. It doesn’t cover everything but our Essentials of Marketing Technology contains a much more detailed worksheet to help you evaluate vendors as well as a comprehensive guide to help you with the process of vendor selection.
With your use cases documented, vendor scorecard defined, and RFI/RFP created,
it’s time to start connecting with vendors.
Creating a short list based on your company profile and preference is a good starting point; JOE capabilities and ratings, B2B or B2C focus, functional specialism, industry and company size match.
As you progress to chatting with vendors, we would recommend you:
Customer Journey Analytics, a key functionality of JOEs, is a growing market that’s projected to reach over $25 billion globally by 2026. JOEs provide three key capabilities: journey analysis, mapping and management that, combined, help marketers adapt to changing consumer expectations, behaviours, and needs.
- Journey analytics combines data from multiple touchpoints and channels.
- Journey mapping helps companies visualise the buying journey from their customer’s perspective.
- Journey management uses this information to craft personalised, relevant journeys that are contextually relevant for each customer.
Customers value experience more than brand, product, and company. Research suggests that they will pay up to 16% more for products or services when they feel appreciated and known. This is true across almost all industries, with certain industries like travel, health, and retail benefiting the most. Even more compelling – over 30% of all customers will stop doing business with a brand they love after just one bad experience.
JOEs help companies understand how each customer interaction impacts the entire journey, enabling you to improve the customer journey and make every moment count.
- Source, thinkwithgoogle, ‘ZMOT Handbook’, thinkwithgoogle, 2018. (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/_qs/documents/705/2012-zmot-handbook_research-studies.pdf)
- Source: Deloitte, ‘Retail Trends 2022’, Deloitte, 2022. (https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/retail-trends.html)
- Source: Bharat Poddar, Yogesh Mishra, and Anandapadmanabhan Ramabhadran, ‘Transform Customer Journeys at Scale—and Transform Your Business’, BCG, November 8, 2019. (https://www.bcg.com/en-gb/publications/2019/transform-customer-journeys-scale-transform-business)
- Source: MarTech Alliance / Moore Kingston Smith, ‘The Martech Report 2020/2021’ MarTech Alliance, October 2021. (https://www.martechalliance.com/martechreport)
- Source: Markets & Markets, ‘Customer Journey Analytics Market’, Markets & Markets, 2021. (https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/customer-journey-analytics-market-119398916.html)
- Source: Deloitte, ‘Retail Trends 2022’, Deloitte, 2021. (https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/retail-trends.html)
- Source: Bharat Poddar, Yogesh Mishra, and Anandapadmanabhan Ramabhadran, ‘Transform Customer Journeys at Scale’. BCG, November 8, 2019. (https://www.bcg.com/en-gb/publications/2019/transform-customer-journeys-scale-transform-business)
- Source: CSG: ‘Csg Supercharges Customer Engagement Solutions With Acquisition of Kitewheel’, July 14, 2021. (https://ir.csgi.com/investors/press-releases/press-release-details/2021/CSG-Supercharges-Customer-Engagement-Solutions-with-Acquisition-of-Kitewheel/)