Within a crowded marketplace, organizations are turning their sights to drive sales and brand recognition through one key relationship -- the customer. Under the umbrella of customer experience there is a growing fever and host of initiatives, theories and ideas of how to improve it across channels -- but at the root of it all, there is one place where customer experience must reign supreme.
It’s online. However, what we learn online can and should also drive your CX offline.
If we break it down simply, the goal of sales and marketing is to provide the best information to customers as they move along the buying process, while the web experience is the core delivery mechanism for the information. What marketing automation brings to the table is the ability to understand the individual buyer, find out what they need to know and craft a more tailored experience cross-channel to increase conversions.
It’s a no-brainer, right? Better web experiences, better selling information, happier (and purchasing) customers.
Three Points to Remember
However, when moving forward with improving marketing automation and better web experiences, it’s important to keep these points in mind:
- Understanding Buyers -- It’s crucial to think in terms of data and its inherent “give and take” relationship with customers. What explicit data do you need from the audience? What can you give them in return for sharing it? At the same time, you must pay careful attention to their digital body language, which will provide insights into their interests and intents. Website navigation can be designed to maximize the amount of digital body language insight that it provides by ensuring each relevant nugget of web content provides a signal of interest.
- Keep it Simple but Holistic -- Too many organizations try to over-engineer the experience. Companies should look at general levels of interest, but trying to make it nuanced is very difficult. It’s much better to go with a general look and a simple structure. Create the framework and then build incrementally on top of it; keep it simple and keep it clean. At the same time, the holistic experience of the buyer is crucial. We must examine how they have interacted with a sales team, with social media, with video, with webinars, and on and on. Bringing all these signals together with the values and intent creates the opportunity to find out what the customer wants next and provide a deep knowledge of them.
- Get Personal, But Be Real -- Getting too personal too fast can actually be a negative. A great personalized experience delivers the exact experience that the person is hoping for, without letting them know it’s targeted. Deliver the golden nugget of information seamlessly and unobtrusively. And, most importantly, stay authentic. A “Dear Steve” and a generic message are much worse. The best way to turn off a customer is this type of “fake” personalized approach.
Customer Experience Online & Offline are Melding Into One View
A great CX, regardless of where it happens, is based on two things: understanding a buyer well enough to know what they are interested in and then delivering this message. Both online and offline can learn from each other. Offline interactions, such as those that sales professionals have, should be guided by an understanding of a buyers’ online behavior. Similarly, online experiences should reflect what we know about the buyer from their offline interactions.
Additionally, outside of the web experience, it’s key to take an entire CX look at any and all outlets where we interact. Social media, of course, should reflect an amazing experience. Events should reflect the online experience and the online experience should reflect the event. Any aspect of the customer experience that remains siloed is likely to be unsuccessful.
This growth of the web experience is truly driven by the control that the customer now has. If they want information, then they can just go to the web and bypass the vendor entirely. They can get it in a multitude of ways where the vendor has no control. The only way to regain control is to have the best experience so that they can, and will, come to you.
Take, for instance, Apple and what they did with iTunes. The music industry lost control of music with customers. Apple regained the control by wrapping up a product in a much better experience than piracy sites and, by doing so, gained enough control to justify charging a reasonable price per song. This is one of the best examples of loss of control to regaining control that spanned multiple channels.
It all really boils down to the fact that, as a term, “web experience management” will just transition to “experience management,” where the web is the center of almost everything we do. By tapping into the benefits of marketing automation, the web as the core component of your CX will take an incredible and positive turn.
Image courtesy of My Portfolio (Shutterstock)
Editors Note: Looking for more on providing better Web Experiences with Marketing Automation? Check out Trip Kucera's It Takes a System: Web Experience Management Meets Marketing Automation.