Customer journey orchestration platforms: Getting started on CJO

Aligning your customer data, content management, CJO and analytics and reporting platforms is crucial for CJO implementation success.

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This is the third article in a three-part series. In case you missed them, part 1 (People) is here and part 2 (Process) is here.

Customer journey orchestration (CJO) is supported by many platforms in addition to a single CJO application. Orchestration requires that omnichannel content management, customer data, testing and personalization, as well as analytics and reporting platforms are aligned. Therefore, we need to keep all of these in mind as we plan for CJO implementation.

In the last article in this three-part series, we are going to explore this by looking at four critical platforms necessary for your organization’s success with customer journey orchestration.

Customer data

Let’s start by looking at the platforms that hold your customer data. Understanding your customers and anticipating their needs is a key component of customer journey orchestration, so access to timely and accurate data about your customers is critical.

As you are planning for CJO, here are some things to consider related to your customer data:

  • Do you have a customer data platform (CDP) already, and is it your primary “source of truth” about customers, or do you have other platforms like a CRM?
  • How is customer data being stored and accessed?
  • How are you anticipating a move to a first-party data strategy?
  • How will you use audience segmentation in CJO?

To help with these issues related to customer data, you should get started on a first-party data strategy (if you haven’t already). This means that if you are heavily reliant on third-party data for advertising and other marketing, you need to shift to collecting more customer data that you have permissions to use, and the ability to deploy as you begin orchestration.

Begin customer journey orchestration with some low-hanging fruit. Work with the teams dealing with customer data to define target audience segments and build a good proof of concept.

Ensuring your customer data systems are accessible, accurate and up-to-date sets up your CJO implementation for success.

Dig deeper: How clean, organized and actionable is your data?

Content management

Your customer journey orchestration platform is going to need access to all of the content for the channels you wish to orchestrate. Additionally, the personalization opportunities that CJO allows mean content variations may include localization, testing variants and other pieces of content that will be tailored to customers throughout their journey.

Some key considerations around content management include understanding:

  • How you will add or modify channels over time as new content is needed.
  • How you will categorize content across channels to understand relationships between similar content on different channels. 

This means that you should have a way to understand that email content is related to website content, or mobile app content, since your journey orchestration may target different audiences on different channels, but need similar content.

To get started, you should do an audit of your content management system (CMS) landscape. Depending on your organization, you may have several different systems serving different properties. Get an understanding of whether you can consolidate any of them. Having a single system can streamline the processes needed to create content as well.

Consider using a headless CMS, which is built to serve content on a multitude of channels (not just websites).

CJO can complicate the way content is managed and organized. It is crucial to carefully plan how you will organize your content management systems to streamline your efforts as much as possible.

Dig deeper: What are headless or hybrid content management systems?


Customer journey orchestration platforms

We certainly couldn’t have a series of articles about customer journey orchestration without discussing CJO platforms themselves. As you might imagine, your customer journey orchestration tool will play a central role in your efforts.

There are many considerations with CJO. Will you go with an all-in-one platform that handles many things including customer journey orchestration? Or will you choose a best-of-breed product? You could also build components of CJO with an internal engineering team if you have the resources.

Additionally, consider how strong a role you want artificial intelligence to play in your CJO. Some systems allow very strict orchestration driven by you and your team. Others put more control in the hands of AI and machine learning to use a next-best action approach. While both have their merits, you must understand the distinction and make sure the one you pick is the right fit for your organization.

A good starting point is a proof of concept (POC) or minimum viable product (MVP) which allows you and your team to get a feel for a system without a big investment of time or money. This is arguably the most critical piece of your CJO approach.

Analytics and reporting

Last, but not least, let’s talk about measurement. The first iteration of your customer journey orchestration implementation will ultimately need improvement. What should improve and how, though? This is where your analytics and reporting platforms come into play.

Consider the key performance indicators (KPIs) and measures of success of your customer journey orchestration efforts. In other words, how will you determine that CJO is more successful than previous efforts? 

Also, consider that since orchestration involves multiple channels in most cases, having clear attribution of how channels are performing and contributing to a conversion is critical. This multi-touch attribution will help sustain the long-term effectiveness of your CJO efforts.

To get started, ensure you have a good feedback loop that helps you understand where things are — or aren’t — performing up to expectations, and what you can do to improve them.

The continuous improvement of your customer journeys and their ability to improve customer acquisition, engagement, and retention depend on the most meaningful metrics being available in useful reports. 

Dig deeper: 5 steps to make the most of your reporting and analytics

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, successful customer journey orchestration takes the three keys of people, process and platforms to be successful. There are many considerations to take into account, though it is important to always make sure you are putting your customers front and center. After all, a successful CJO means that customers are getting what they need, when, where, and how they want it.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this three-part series on preparing for customer journey orchestration. I wish you the best as you begin your own journey.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Greg Kihlstrom
Greg Kihlström is a best-selling author, speaker, and entrepreneur, and serves as an advisor and consultant to top companies on marketing technology, marketing operations, customer experience, and digital transformation initiatives. He has worked with some of the world’s top brands, including Adidas, Coca-Cola, FedEx, HP, Marriott, Nationwide, Victoria’s Secret, and Toyota.

Greg's podcast, The Agile Brand, is one of the top-ranked enterprise marketing shows and features brand and platform leaders discussing the latest trends and best practices in marketing and CX.

He is a multiple-time Co-Founder and C-level leader, leading his digital experience agency to be acquired by the largest independent marketing agency in the DC region in 2017, successfully exited an HR technology platform provider he co-founded in 2020, and led a SaaS startup to be acquired by a leading edge computing company in 2021. He currently advises and sits on the Board of a marketing technology startup.

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