“If marketing has one goal, it’s to reach consumers at the moments that most influence their decisions.”Court, Elzinga, Mulder & Vetvik in The Consumer Decision Journey
Brands need to have knowledge of their touchpoints if they are to be able to influence the moments that matter. Stimulating the customer journey is impossible if you have no idea where to act. Touchpoints are the places where the brand touches the consumer. This could be advertisements, websites, social medias, store environments, employees or review sites, to name a few examples.
In this article, I will continue the working with the Lemonade brand. I will cover what a customer journey is, then I will map out a sample customer journey for Lemonade before suggesting ways it could be stimulated.
This is part II of the Lemonade case. Read the first one here: Case study: Changing public perceptions of insurance.
What is a customer journey?
The customer journey is a collection of touchpoints that some group of customers undertake in their purchase journey. Customer journeys are a marketing tool useful to conceptualize how a consumer becomes a customer. It is an extension of marketing funnels and emphasizes that customer movements toward purchase are not linear.
In theory, the customer journey represents the total brand experience for a given group. Don’t forget the given group part. Brand experiences are highly subjective and can vary significantly between consumers. They are generalizations. To be able to make a generalization of something as complicated as a purchase journey, you need to be specific. That’s why you should approach it based on segments and from the customers point of view.
Mapping out the customer journey
In part I, I said that two of the main challenges Lemonade was facing was forming meaningful relationship with consumers and gaining market share and profitability as the brand expands into new markets.
For this customer journey, the group of customers I will focus on are millennial rent insurance seekers in France. Successful market penetration in Europe is critical for Lemonade. This segment relates directly to that challenge and is the brand’s target demographic.
It’s also an interesting case given that Europeans may be quite skeptical US based insurer and are likely to need more convincing to form trust and a meaningful relationship. Particularly now as it appears that Covid-19 is making people more keen on domestic product and services and perceptions of foreign brands are declining. In France, 47% of people say that they are less favorable towards US based brands and 44% are purchasing fewer products from American brands than they did before Covid-19.
This creates a challenging environment for brands such as Lemonade who is just making their entrance in Europe.
Below is a simplified generalization of the customer journey. It is put forward in a linear way for a more straightforward representation but in reality it is a continuous cycle in which previous experiences influence perception and future behaviour. That is, to process from awareness to purchase may be months but also seconds. For example, a PPC ad may cause a purchase because the person was previously in touch with public relations activity. Conversions may be attributed to recommendations or ads. There is no one path.
Lemonade generates a lot of awareness from public relations (PR). Likely it is a result of the disruptive approach they adopt to the insurance section. PR also aids in generating word of mouth (WoM). Together these make up the dominating touchpoints at the awareness stage.
However, the brand also invests significantly in Display and PPC ads. By looking at SEMrush data, we can gauge that PPC ads appear slightly more targeted than display and are thus the bridge between awareness and consideration in the journey.
When aware of and considering Lemonade, the customer typically browses informational pages on Lemonade’s website. He or she also takes advantage of recommendations; both in the form of online reviews and advice from friends and family. Given that insurance is generally what we would call a high involvement category, it is likely that younger people in particular turn to recommendations from peers, family and friends. In turn, I’d say these touchpoints are the most critical within the consideration stage.
The social media ads are complementary to this and serve as reminders and increase salience for the brand which in turns works to maintain Lemonade’s place within the consideration set.
Maya, the friendly bot, represents the first step of purchase in the customer journey. She is a defining factor in the quality of customer experience and her performance in answering informational questions influences whether purchases go through on the website or mobile app.
Maya is also a significant touchpoint in the retention section of the journey as she takes on the role of customer service. She is central in the consumer to brand dialogue and largely determines how consumers evaluate their first weeks in business and is instrumental in establishing a loyalty loop.
Email has a similar function. It works to both facilitate purchases and nurture people on their way to become loyal customers. Organic social media also has its role here as a platform for those who are fans of the brand.
Claims fulfillment, led by another bot by the name of Jim, may very well be the most crucial touchpoint of the entire customer journey. Based on the quality of brand experience on this point, people are likely to either become advocates for the brand (or in the least passive loyalists) or it can prompt them to terminate the subscription.
Fast and effortless claim resolutions is a defining element in Lemonade’s positioning against the competitions. Therefore, the brand must deliver on its promise on this touchpoint specifically.
Jim is the gatekeeper to the advocacy stage. A pleasant brand experience with Jim increases the chances that customers recommend Lemonade to their friends and families. A negative experience however is likely to break the loyalty loop and lead people away from the brand.
Those that do become advocates appear to engage with the brands on certain touchpoints. To begin with, Lemonade runs an Art Studio on their Instagram page. Here the brand commissions artists to create vivid work, often using elements of the brand identity and nurtures a community of brand enthusiasts.
Second is the Lifestyle Blog Lemonade hosts on its website. Here advocates can spend their time reading up on the brand’s history and values. In addition, they can also learn practical things about insurance and broader interest areas that all relate to moving into adulthood. These are platforms that people simply wouldn’t invest their time in unless they were devoted to the brand.
Last, and another journey-defining touchpoint, is when customers go mishap-free and donate their leftover payments to a cause of their choosing. Just like with Jim, this is a touchpoint relating to the positioning and brand promise. For each and every customer in the journey, this has the potential to be a huge point of delight that could then cause ripple effects throughout the entire thing through eager word of mouth activity and recommendations.
How can we stimulate the customer journey?
Brands need to understand their touchpoints and how they are navigated by people if they want to influence the customer journey. The touchpoints are endless and to establish an understanding of every single one is an impossible task. That’s why grouping is a powerful exercise.
You can group touchpoints in many different ways. One is to base it on control and the ease to which the brand can influence it. You can do this by mapping out which points are owned by the brand, partners, customers and which are social and external.
Once you have done that, you can better realize what you can influence and pick out those that are relevant to your objective.
Stimulus #1: Increasing engagement through value- and self-congruity
When people experience congruence with a brand and its values, they are more likely to engage with it and become more loyal. This was one of the initiatives lined out in part I. By communicating the brand values though an encompassing campaign, you can increase the inanimateness of the consumer to brand relationship.
Self-congruity between an individual and a brand also has a biasing effect on the functional aspects of the service. For example, feeling a harmony with Lemonade’s values could create an automatic impression of improved satisfaction with functional touchpoints such as interactions with the bots and make customers more forgiving when a bot-related brand experience is subpar.
Stimulus #2: Get the proofs in place
Authenticity is critical when building an emotional relationship. If you can’t back up what you stand for, then no one is going to take you seriously.
When Ørsted rebranded from DONG Energy, it made sure to have the proofs in place. The brand realized as a former oil company it couldn’t expect people to buy in on the new emphasis without walking the talk. That’s made it made sure that no communication was without a factual basis. You might think that this is a no brainer, but so many companies fall in the naive trap of thinking that a visual overhaul is sufficient. It most definitely isn’t, least not in the energy sector. Hence the term greenwashing.
Lemonade can draw inspiration from this and use proofs as a guide for communication. While most other initiatives are based on emotions, this is an opportunity to introduce facts and figures to back it all up. It is a long-term initiative that goes hand in hand with the company’s strategic objectives.
Stimulus #3: Referral scheme
The last suggestion is to implement a referral scheme. Referred customers stay longer with the brand and have a considerably higher lifetime value. People tend to trust recommendations made by peers. Nielsen considers recommendations from friends and family to be the most influential of all marketing vehicles.
Social aspect are already a major part of Lemonade’s customer journey so they can take advantage of this. Referral schemes are often criticized for incentivizing disingenuous opportunists who are only in it for the payout. Whether that is detrimental in the whole is worthy of a debate. But that does not have to matter for Lemonade.
To minimize this threat, and align the program better to the brand values and positioning, Lemonade could offer referrers a proportional match on their cause donation that systematically increases as more friends are recruited by the same referrer. The incentive would then encourage both sides to engage as both referrer and referee participate in making a social impact. Participants could also feel as brand co-creators which increases commitment and has a positive effect on the overall brand experience.
A referral scheme like this is a win/win/win initiative. The referrer can self-express through expertise and early adoption, the referee gets valued recommendation easing his or her decision making, and Lemonade increases its social impact.
This was the second part of the Lemonade case study. While part I is more strategic, this article focuses more on implementing tactics. I’ll put in the same disclaimer as before. The data this is based of is all on the web and not from any experiences with the brand. It shouldn’t be taken as more than an analysis and suggested actions based on public data. It is however, my hope that you find this valuable and will be able to draw inspiration for this when facing a similar case on your job.