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.
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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.

Organizations have to know what’s noise and what matters at each touch point along the path that customers take as they travel from prospect to customer to loyal fan. Marketers have to understand what customers and prospects are doing to ensure an optimal and well-coordinated experience every time someone engages. 
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Keldsen advised that mapping out each touch point in the lifecycle is significant work, but it also has significant value.

Unfortunately, the Human 1.0 study showed that only 28% of respondents had the information they needed to confidently tell their leadership which activities delivered the highest marketing ROI.

Why? Only 25% of respondents said the marketing data from IT supported real-time decision-making.

However, IT isn’t the only issue; 62% of respondents relied on the marketing team, not IT, to make technology decisions. Over half believed they lacked the analytical skills to analyze marketing data. The failure has multiple sources, but a lack of cross-team collaboration is really at the core.

The User Experience of Customer Experience

Collecting and understanding user data is important, but in many cases that knowledge must be distilled into something customers and prospects see and use -- a website, application or mobile app. This might be the only way people interact with a company, which means user experience (UX) is important. 

Keldsen uses John Medina’s book, "Brain Rules," for guidance about creating interfaces. The book has 12 rules, but four are particularly applicable to UX:

  1. Attention -- people don’t pay attention to boring things
  2. Sensory Integration -- stimulate more of the senses
  3. Vision -- trumps all other senses
  4. Exploration -- people are powerful and natural explorers

Although Keldsen presented a number of disappointing statistics, he acknowledged that businesses can still move forward.

Organizations can start by assessing their CXM strengths and weaknesses, but it’s important that they begin now. The longer businesses wait, the longer they miss Keldsen’s "epic wins" -- increased measurability/accountability, increased customer engagement, lower cost customer acquisition and better customer insights.

Kevin Cochrane: Customer Experience and the Digital Self

Kevin Cochrane of Adobe began his portion of the discussion by exploring the changing role of marketers.

Traditionally, marketers mostly focused on brand; now, many more are responsible for top line revenue growth and for engaging customers at the top of the sales funnel across all channels. Their work is much more tied to measurable key performance indicators (KPIs).

To be successful, marketers must partner with IT to ensure they have platforms capable of supporting their goals.

Big Data = Big Opportunity

Big data is a big opportunity. However, Cochrane cautioned, it is only a big opportunity if marketers can actually understand the data.

Marketers need access to the insight big data provides in real-time so they can optimize each experience. Marketers have to move beyond looking at generic personas and create a one-on-one relationship with the actual human. The technology to do this is available now. 

Using himself as an example, Cochrane explored the concept of the digital self -- the convergence of all the digital signals that each of us produces. Each interaction with a computer, website, social network or mobile device leaves behind information.

Marketers must be able to harness all of the many data points and build a profile of a real human. When marketers really understand these profiles, they can create a truly personalized experience for each person, which is what Cochrane says Adobe is attempting to do with their web experience management (WEM) platform.

Adobe, says Cochrane, doesn’t want to provide access to data, they want to enable digital marketers to deliver optimized real-time experiences.

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Cochrane went on to describe the different components Adobe provides such as Adobe Creative Suite, Creative Cloud and Adobe CQ5 that make big data actionable. Adobe has designed its tools to be easy to use and deploy to ensure marketers can easily take advantage of the offerings.

Cochrane concluded with a demo of CQ5, Adobe’s web experience management solution (see the video at the end of the article for the full demo).


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Adobe CQ5 - Tailoring the Customer Experience in Real Time 

The Wrap Up

The webinar wrapped up with questions from attendees. The speakers responded to the audience explaining the importance of big data to marketing, the metrics that are important for a marketing dashboard and more about why faster feedback loops are important.

If you want to know the answers to these questions or more detail about any of the topics the speakers addressed, check out the following webinar recording.