It wasn’t too long ago that it was considered novel to use web analytics to determine a customer's or prospect's interests and then email them somewhat relevant content after the visit. Marketers could provide a basic level of customization (such as name or account personalization and dynamic interest or product content) based on the segment that visitor fit in.
Then came the ability to send email messages triggered by a known visitor’s actions -- when they abandoned a shopping cart or completed a lead form. These behaviorally targeted messages worked for a while, sometimes generating lifts of more than 20 percent. But the novelty wore off and people stopped opening or responding to email.
Fast-forward to today. Businesses now have the tools and actionable intelligence to message to consumers in real time, reacting to the latest developments or activities. By analyzing a visitor’s behavior in an instant, putting him into one of a variety of segments, and using algorithms and rules engines to respond in real time, marketers can use their websites to test segmented messages and present relevant information within the context of the visit. Or they can target website content based on the referring site or Google ad the user was looking at. The immediacy of this type of real time marketing can help make customers feel unique, and has done a lot to direct a visitor’s site experience and deliver marketers an ROI.
Customers now expect this kind of experience. They no longer accept static experiences or landing pages that look the same regardless of what they were searching for. They want to be engaged and satisfied, surprised and delighted -- from the moment they start a search for your product or service until the moment they do business with you and refer you to a friend.
So how will marketers continue to advance their real time efforts to surprise and delight customers in the moment? How do we further engage our prospects and convert them into becoming paying customers? How do we convert new customers at an even faster rate? What will it take to move web marketing from one-to-many to one-to-one?
Predictive Analytics: Moving Toward the Segment of One
Marketers have come to depend on RFM -- recency, frequency and monetary value -- as factors in creating personalized engagements with customers. But while RFM can help marketers deliver personalized experiences, it does not offer the kind of actionable intelligence needed to satisfy discerning visitors in the moment. Moreover, RFM doesn’t work for new customers because there is no historical behavior to analyze.
Advances in predictive analytics makes real time marketing to a segment of one within reach. Predictive analytics allow marketers to move beyond looking at past purchases or current behavior to target website content on an individual level. It adds a vital element to real time marketing -- the ability to understand a visitor’s relationship, persona and intent while they are in session on your website -- combining everything you know about them historically with what they are doing in this session. In other words, predictive analytics allows you to proactively serve up the relevant content and personalized messaging that will drive your customers and prospects to action.
Relationship + Persona + Intent = Personalized Engagement
Many companies offer blanket discounts or promotions (based on previous purchases or visits) to everyone in a particular segment, but real time marketing begins with a deeper understanding of your relationship with your customers and prospects. Are they first time or frequent visitors, browsers or regular customers? Are they gold level or basic, members or newbies?
And while this relationship data is an important factor in knowing how to market to a customer, it’s equally important to understand who they are and what they are interested in. This is their persona and it can be different in one session versus another.
The most critical factor in real time marketing is intent. Why is this visitor on your website right now? She didn’t have to be, but she is … so why is she there, what is she looking to do? In order to anticipate the customer’s current need, you must be able to combine this real time engagement data with existing profile data to deliver a truly personalized experience and guide her to conversion, whether that’s a purchase, subscribing to your blog or starting a free trial with your tool.
Using predictive analytics, marketers will finally be able to turn their websites into their very best consultants or salespeople -- exchanging information, sharing thought leadership, engaging sales and prospects, and more. The key is to listen carefully and engage in dialogue that is interesting, actionable and adds value to the customer. This kind of behavior increases lead conversion, engagement and ultimately, revenue, all while lowering the cost per action.