In short, they’re vital to creating customer experiences that drive value — something subscription-based music streaming service Pandora Media knows all too well. Owned by SiriusXM, Pandora is the largest streaming music provider in the U.S., boasting approximately 70 million monthly users.
In our recent webinar — Customer Growth in the Post-Cookie Future: A Better First-Party Data Strategy — we spoke to SiriusXM’s Senior Vice President of Growth about how Pandora tests, measures and optimizes customer journeys. Here are the top three takeaways from that discussion.
Building Connected Customer Journeys: 3 Tips From Pandora Media
1. Zero In On Customer Behaviors
The first step is understanding when, where and how customers interact with your brand and using this data to inform journey personalization.
“What we’ve really built is a system of protocols that allow us to transfer different user actions, behaviors and targets across a vast number of channels,” said Mike Amsel, Senior Vice President of Growth at SiriusXM.
There are two key components: first-party data and enterprise-level scalability. Using ActionIQ, Pandora can collect, analyze and take action on customer insights related to what consumers want and how they engage with the brand.
The company can also ensure it’s able to manage the massive amounts of customer data it receives and activate it across all online and offline channels.
In 2021, Pandora imported 10 terabytes of data into ActionIQ, powering 1.3 trillion experience activations across more than 20 channels, including email, mobile applications and paid media.
This has helped it orchestrate over 30 sophisticated customer journeys that are tailored to different parts of the customer lifecycle, from initial sign-ups to trial-to-paid conversions and beyond.
“We find, and this has been the staying power of Pandora specifically, is consumers expect personalization across each one of their marketing experiences,” Amsel said.
This is especially relevant to subscription-based businesses, according to Amsel. If customers use a product regularly, they expect brands to know who they are and what they want, as well as intelligently recommend ways to use the product that will ultimately drive user retention and loyalty.
“Obviously, that does not happen without experimentation,” Amsel said. “As we orchestrate our channel journeys and personalize content, we’re experimenting to make sure that the marketing investments or channel investments that we’re making are driving a positive outcome for our business.”
2. Prioritize Marketing Agility
There are more ways for customers to interact with brands than ever before, and the proliferation of channels is not slowing down. Brands must keep up with emerging channels and alter their customer journeys accordingly.
“Channels are going to change and ways that consumers expect messaging are going to change,” Amsel said. “If we can’t organize with speed the ability of our audience targeting or pushing audience sequences across channels, then we’re going to fail and it’s going to be disjointed to users or we’re going to miss opportunity. And so ActionIQ’s been an amazing partner for us in that vein.”
This is another area where consistent experimentation is invaluable when it comes to designing connected customer journeys.
Pandora tests and measures buyer journeys using statistical holdout models. Seeing how different campaigns or channels impact customer experience by providing them to some users and not others allows the brand to understand which customer journeys are hitting the mark and which ones need to go back to the drawing board.
3. Collect Customer Data Intelligently
Authenticated first-party data is the foundation of connected customer journeys. The key for brands — especially as concerns over privacy and security continue to shake up how brands identify and target consumers — is providing value in exchange for these insights.
“That could be access to exclusive content, that could be perks and premium [subscriptions], that could just be the promise of personalization,” Amsel said. “And the ability to build off of how consumers engage with content or products, recommendations that fuel their benefits and make their life easier — Pandora’s made a great business out of that.”
But providing value isn’t enough. Brands must also focus on doing so at the right time and in the right place. For instance, companies may see a decrease in page views or downstream engagement after asking a user to create an account and provide personal information, but it may be because the ask came too early.
Meanwhile, the value brands receive from authenticating users may offset some of the friction. Even if you lose 30% of an audience with a registration form, the 70% that fill it out will power a brand’s ability to more effectively reach them and drive engagement across different product lines, ultimately increasing CLTV.
The key is testing, learning and iterating.
“That could be as simple as testing how you authenticate users in a way that requires them to create credentials or an email address, and then measuring the value of that versus your decrease in conversion rate or engagement with specific pieces of content,” Amsel said.
Without the ability to understand where someone is in the customer journey or what that journey looks like, brands are flying blind. This makes delivering personalized, relevant customer experiences an uphill battle.
The goal, as always, should be gathering the customer insights necessary to provide superior CX.
“The ways that you can consume our content across our services and devices is dramatically different,” Amsel said. “And so, if we recognize a user turns on a smart speaker, we’re going to want to recommend different ways they interact with that product versus tapping screens on their iPhone.”
Check out the full webinar featuring Pandora to learn more about how it’s creating customer journeys and gain insights into using first-party data to support customer growth.
Build Connected Customer Journeys With 1st-Party Data
Download our guide, 12 Acquisition Strategies for Watching the Cookie Sunset to see how you can develop a first-party data strategy that powers impactful customer journeys.