If you’re like most modern consumers, you’re engaging with brands across a wide variety of channels and devices. As a marketer, ask yourself this question — are you able to provide your customers with the experience you’ve come to expect as a digital consumer?
For most marketers I talk to, there are a few common obstacles that have prevented them from reaching their ideal state, including fragmented data, disconnected systems and a lack of behavioral insights. The result is in an incomplete picture of customers that prohibits marketers from creating a consistent customer experience across channels.
In its recent piece, “The Importance of Customer Experience in a Multi-channel World,” Econsultancy states that “Brands and marketers cannot dictate how customers think about brands, so the only way a marketer can attempt to balance out this power shift is to influence the customer experience.” It’s a very hot topic, and a big part of the discussion involves the marketer’s ability to capture, curate and effectively leverage data.
Connect the Dots
Marketers have access to a vast array of technologies, and according to Gartner, CMOs will spend more money on technology than CIOs by 2017. That’s great news for marketers — the ability to listen to your customers and detect digital body language is a critical piece of the online conversation you want to have. Connecting these disparate systems is a multiplier of success that enables you to create a 360-degree view of your customers.
At Silverpop, we encourage marketers to connect these systems and pull all of the rich data that they’re collecting into a single database of record. By doing this, marketers are able to gain a more holistic view of customers and take the first step toward creating a more consistent experience across channels.
Imagine a scenario where a retailer has connected its in-store point of sale system with their marketing database of record. A customer makes a purchase in store, and that purchase data triggers a message that thanks the customer, and offers an incentive if the customer comes back to the website to write a review of the product. By pulling point-of-sale system data into its marketing database of record, this brand has effectively unified three channels — in-store, website and email — and the result is a personal experience that drives loyalty and engagement. (Download our “Vision, Skills, Data” white paper.)
Create a Single Identity
Now that you’ve moved your previously fragmented data into a single database of record, you’re on your way to being able to establish a single identity for your customers. An important part of providing a consistent customer experience is creating an ecosystem that allows people to move seamlessly from one channel to another, but still be viewed as one individual in the eyes of the brand.
Think of it as a digital conversation – if your customer is viewing a particular product, or category of products on your mobile app, wouldn’t it make sense to acknowledge that when they come to your website later that week, rather than start that conversation over? This is particularly important for considered purchases where the amount of online research increases.
Multichannel and omnichannel strategies are en vogue topics right now, and using easy-to-implement technologies like Web tracking and will set you on the path to providing the cross-channel experience that digitally savvy customers have come to expect.
Not Your Father’s Preference Center
Harnessing data from multiple sources and amalgamating that data to create a single identity for your customers are huge steps forward that will help you provide meaningful experiences for people that are engaging with you online. And one of the biggest benefits of moving toward a more sophisticated digital strategy is gaining a better understanding of your customers’ implicit preferences.
Traditional stated preference centers are wonderful and have helped digital marketers segment and drive increased relevance in their messaging. The challenge is that these preference centers are static, and few digital consumers return to them unless they’re coming back to opt out of your program. People’s lifestyles inevitably change over time, and a once-single professional renting an apartment can very quickly become a married parent who owns a home. Buying habits naturally shift over time to mirror these lifestyle changes, and classic preference centers aren’t designed to acknowledge those changes on their own.
So how can you provide relevant content over the long-term and increase CLV (customer lifetime value)? The answer again leads back to the capturing of behavioral data across channels.
Tracking behaviors across channels – website, in-store, mobile – will put you in position to provide super-personalized messages in real time based on implicit (or as some say, actual) preferences as opposed to stated preferences. As an example, if I’m on a retailers website and I’m browsing winter coats, message me about winter coats – not the swimwear that I told you I was interested in when I originally opted in, or the audience message that you’ve sent out regarding a sale on men’s suits. (My company dress code is business-casual.)
Customer Expectations Are Here to Stay
Customer expectations are being set by a few large companies that are continually raising the bar relative to digital experience. The good news for digital marketers is you no longer need a carte blanche budget and unlimited development resources to deliver this type of experience to your customer base.
Companies like Silverpop have democratized this level of sophistication, and marketers now have access to a toolbox that has historically been available only to the largest companies with the biggest pocketbooks.
1) White Paper: “Creating Real-Time Individualized Campaigns Around Every Imaginable Buyer Behavior”
2) Video: “The Power of Flexible Keys and Single Identity”
3) Blog: “Personalizing Content on Every Channel”