Determine the Goal of Your Journey

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Outline measurable goals for your customer journeys.
  • Define what data you have and what data you need.
  • Describe the five phases of a customer lifecycle.
  • Add testing to your journey to improve performance.

Before You Start

Before you begin this module, make sure you complete Journey Builder Basics. The work you do here builds on the concepts and work you do in that badge. 

Elevate Your Journeys

If you’re digging into advanced customer journeys (that’s why you’re here, after all), chances are you’ve already created a simple journey (or two). Maybe you’ve created journeys to welcome new customers, reengage existing subscribers, or wish a customer happy birthday. And while these journeys are foundational, they only scratch the surface of the possibilities with Journey Builder. Things like complex, multichannel programs that respond and adapt to customer behavior. So hang on tight and get ready to go beyond the basics of Journey Builder and create incredible experiences for your customers. 

Set Your Goal

Before taking any trip, you need to know where you’re going, right? Simply put, you need to identify your goal. Is it more customers, higher renewal rate, increased website conversions, or something else? And don’t stop there. Take your goal destination and make it more precise using the principles of SMART.

  • Specific—You can define the goal in a clear and precise manner.
  • Measureable—You can assign a number or checkpoint to the goal.
  • Achievable—You can actually attain the goal.
  • Relevant—You can apply the goal to your work.
  • Time-based—You can set a certain time period to achieve the goal.

Say you want to have a higher renewal rate. Let’s make it a SMART goal! So your goal might become: Increase renewal rate by 10 percent by the end of the next fiscal year. Your goal includes a specific and measurable number; it’s achievable and relevant to your activities. And you’ve set a timeline, so you can start planning your steps to achieve success. Let’s get going.

Know the Landscape

Before you improve your journeys, you need to complete an audit of your existing programs. Try to be as objective and honest as possible (this helps you make the best decisions going forward). The customer journey represents how your customers interact with you, their likelihood to stay or renew, and their willingness to recommend your business to others. Not to mention, the journey experience directly affects customer satisfaction. 

So take stock of everything you use to communicate with your customer, and do the necessary research (such as searching keywords and social media activity) to see what others think. Take a look at what your competitors are doing, too. Bottom line: Know what you have, what your competitors have, and what people are saying about it. This information provides a solid foundation to build your best journeys yet.


As you collect information, keep in mind that Marketing Cloud uses several different tools to gather behavioral and browsing data to power Journey Builder and give you the data you need for your journeys.

Gather Your Data

As you conduct your audit, outline the data you have for your customers. You probably already have the basics, like name, location, and email address. You might have also collected demographic information like birthday and gender. This data is typically used for basic personalization and segmentation. However, to best serve your customers, you need more data to understand what they need and how they behave. Think of your data in three categories.

  • Have—The data already safely stored in your system
  • Need—The data necessary to pursue your goal
  • Want—Anything else that can make a difference down the road

All of this data helps you fine-tune your segmentation process, but keep in mind that you need to strike a balance. Get all the data you want, but also make sure your segments aren’t too granular. You want to be able to address your audiences effectively as a group. 

Choose Your Channels

You’re on a mission to create a meaningful journey with every customer, so knowing how to communicate with them is just as crucial as what to communicate to them. Customers generally respond to different channels in different ways, depending on the situation.

  • Email messages give customers a low-pressure communication they can return to, but customers can also easily unsubscribe (or worse—emotionally unsubscribe, meaning they just quit opening your messages).
  • SMS messages usually demand immediate attention. They can be effective for urgent needs or specific touchpoints, but sending too many SMS messages can quickly lead to unsubscribes or bad feelings toward your brand.
  • Push messages use your app to target customers specifically, but this method can also be troublesome if overused or inaccurately targeted.

Here’s an example of how these messages can work well together. Imagine you work for a food delivery service. When a customer orders food on your app, they receive a push message confirming the order is received, then another push message when the food has arrived. The customer can communicate quickly with the driver via voice or SMS to share any special instructions. Finally, after the food is delivered, the customer receives an emailed receipt—because let’s face it, they probably don’t want to be bothered with the ping of a push or SMS message while they’re enjoying their food! 


As a reminder, regulations vary depending on the channel. You should research regulations like CAN-SPAM and TCPA, and consult your legal department before you message customers.

Identify the Moments That Matter

Each customer is an individual and may follow a unique path as they engage with your brand—but marketers tend to agree that, on the whole, customers move through similar phases. These phases make up a five-point lifecycle.

The five-point customer lifecycle

  • Acquire—Your customer is deciding whether or not to engage with your brand or product.
  • Onboard—Your customer made the decision to work with you and needs information to make the most of the opportunity.
  • Engage—Your customer needs more knowledge or prompting to better use your product.
  • Retain—Your customer gets incentives to stick with you.
  • Advocate—Your customer goes beyond using your product and influences others to join them.

Journeys help you address where your customers are in the lifecycle and what actions you need to take to make sure they receive the right information (or incentive). Use your data to listen to customer cues and make each journey a single call to action. Each journey can handle a specific action, and you can link journeys together to create a better overall experience for your customers.


In this module, we focus primarily on the acquire, onboard, and retain phases. However, you can apply many of these learnings across the entire customer lifecycle.

Test, Then Test Some More

Smart marketers test every journey. That best practice is especially important for complex journeys, where more splits and evaluations make outcomes more unpredictable. 

Unpredictable, that is, until you test and understand what’s going to happen. Journey Builder gives you two different ways to test the effectiveness of your messaging. The first involves using Journey Testing. This feature takes the journey you create and shows how a sample of your contacts proceed through the journey.

After you validate your journey in Journey Builder, click Test on the journey canvas and select up to 10 existing contacts. Follow the steps to view how Journey Builder processes those contacts and review the results. Be sure to select contacts that represent those you want to include in the journey.

Journey Builder testing can also use decision splits to evaluate how different messages and behaviors perform. With this data, you can determine which actions generate more opens, clicks, or conversions—getting you to your goal faster. In the next unit, we learn how journeys can welcome your customers.


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