Since customers’ choices are the key dynamic in modern marketing, the customer journey map has become the central strategic and management document.
It depicts the marketing exposures and decisions for a given kind of customer and is used to plot alternatives, responses and followup pitches.
To help teams work together on this essential flowchart, Sydney, Australia-based Autopilot on Tuesday updated its marketing automation platform for small-and-medium-sized businesses with what it calls a real-time collaboration feature for customer journey maps.
‘Google Docs on steroids.’ The capability is called Annotate and Collaborate, and CEO Michael Sharkey characterized it as “Google Docs on steroids.”
Instead of marketing team members laying out the customer journey on a whiteboard and someone then capturing the results into a single journey, team members can work remotely on the same journey map until it is locked.
In real-time, multiple team members can collaborate on a visual canvas — creating and moving journey steps, adding annotations or other text, attaching stickers, images and emoji. Freestyle drawing is not yet supported, but Sharkey said it will be added soon.
He pointed out that this collaboration capability also means the sales team can provide their input, such as annotations. He notes that modern organizations are increasingly using collaborative tools in their workdays, including Slack work collaboration space, Dropbox or Google Drive to share files and Google Docs for jointly creating content, and Autopilot fits that workflow.
Managing the customer journey. The resulting customer journey can also be used to manage the different components. If a welcome email is indicated for new members, for instance, the Autopilot user can compose the email and set up the emailing from the journey map. Similarly, SMS messages can be written and sent, leads can be added to customer relationship management systems, and ad campaigns can be set up from the map.
Interactive journeys can be shared via link, and there’s a library of typical journey templates for specific use cases. Sharkey pointed out that, since marketing team members frequently leave or join the organization, extensive annotation helps explain the reasoning behind journey steps to subsequent team members.
But, as Autopilot points out in this cautionary video, a rampant one-upmanship could pose one danger to having so much remote access for journey building:
Why this matters to marketers. Since customer journeys have become the central document of marketing campaigns and most teams have remote members, making journeys collaborative seems a natural fit.
In addition to allowing participation by all marketing team members, it can also provide participation by sales team members, a big step toward lessening what is sometimes a gulf between the two departments.
The collaborative feature, along with annotation, is also another step toward turning a customer journey map into a continuously evolving document instead of remaining a more fixed one — an important evolution since rapid feedback from the field and agile marketing techniques have become so commonplace.