How can you deliver optimal online customer experiences across channels? What tools and processes must be in place? How do you connect web analytics and customer data? What is big data and what skills do you need to make smart use of it?

CMSWire explored these questions and many more in our May 2 webinar, "Using Analytics and Customer Data to Build Great Customer Experiences."

The event featured Dan Keldsen, partner at Human 1.0 and Kevin Cochrane, VP Product Marketing for Web Experience Management at Adobe. For those of you who could not attend the live event, this redux gives you a summary of who said what and why it’s important -- and includes the full video of the webinar at the end of the article.

Keldsen: The State of Customer Experience

Dan Keldsen kicked off the discussion after brief introduction of the speakers and content from the moderator, CMSWire's Brice Dunwoodie. Using quotes from decades ago by business and marketing leaders, Keldsen explained that the goal of marketing and advertising has always been to persuade people to buy goods and services (see Dan's slides here).

Despite the advent of countless technologies and methodologies, many businesses still face the same dilemma as businesses in the early 1900s: an inability to understand if their marketing efforts are really working.

Keldsen reviewed the -- currently somewhat disappointing -- state of the industry using data from "The Digital Marketing 2.0 Study", a survey commissioned by DataXu and conducted by Human 1.0 and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) between December 2011 and February 2012. The survey included 300 survey respondents in management, marketing, digital, IT and social media roles within their organizations.

Some key findings stand out:

  • 78% of those surveyed struggle to use their available analytics and customer data
  • 30% lack the right tools (software/technology) to perform analytics on digital marketing data
  • 55% say their organizations struggle to analyze digital marketing data
  • 58% admit they don’t have the skills to analyze marketing data

According to Keldsen, many businesses don’t have the right skills, teams or tools to leverage all the data being collected about customers to drive business decisions. Customer Experience Management (CXM) is an aggregate discipline that requires expertise in multiple areas such as marketing, design, user experience, analytics and data analysis. So mastery will not happen quickly.

Keldsen continued, 

The real challenge is manipulating large amounts of data in real-time. Businesses need to make decisions using data from each transaction that may affect the next customer or prospect in a different way than it impacted the last person."

However, poor technology, fragmented data and inadequate skills make marketing analytics a challenge for more than half of organizations in the digital marketing study.

The impact of these shortcomings extends to the customers and prospects companies are trying to reach, which means:

  • Businesses aren’t hearing complaints and praises
  • Businesses are bombarding customers/prospects with messages they don’t want because the digital channels are not intelligent enough
  • Web-based user experiences are poor and may be even worse on mobile devices

Delivering Great Customer Experiences

Keldsen suggests that the speed and accuracy of marketing loops will determine which companies win or lose.

Keldsen used retail giant Target as both an example and cautionary tale about the power of data to marketers. Target used data about purchasing behavior to determine that a teenage girl was pregnant and began sending information and ads for pregnancy and baby related merchandise.

Unfortunately, the retailer discovered the pregnancy before the girl and her father, resulting in a highly publicized debacle. The company used purchasing data and customer analytics to deliver a targeted experience, but failed to predict the customer’s perception of the actions. 

Marketers must begin understanding the complete customer lifecycle, which may be a problem for many organizations according the Keldsen. 70 percent of respondents in the study didn’t have or didn’t know if they really have a 360-degree view of the customer.
Customer Lifecycle Loop

Use an illustration of customer touch points from Forrester, Keldsen explained that customers rarely make decisions in one-step, and may interact with an organization in multiple ways for multiple purposes as they move through the customer journey.