For me it happens all the time. Especially in terms of the marketing messages and offers I receive.
I am a modern consumer guy who uses multiple channels to engage with brands -- whether small or large. I am what marketers refer to as a “hyper-connected consumer.” I leave information behind via online searches, Twitter comments, online surveys, online purchases and live chats.
And yet -- despite this -- I often have the strong sensation that I've been here and done that when engaging with a brand. I still get poor customer service from cable, media and wireless companies. Financial institutions send me irrelevant credit card and mortgage offers and retailers have insufficient product selection and inventory when I visit -- either online or in-store.
It doesn't have to be like this, I promise. Organizations must use all the channels and resources at their disposal to provide the hyper-connected consumer with a stellar experience regardless of channel. But the question is how do they morph their marketing automation and digital experience initiatives accordingly to manage the digital customer journey?
There are three key areas organizations need to consider when managing the digital customer journey. These topic areas are important today, but will rise in prominence as digital initiatives take the forefront.
Digital Data Collection
Where do customers engage with your brand? Think of the top two channels. For most companies, especially B2C based, the answer is over web and social channels.
Does your brand monitor and interact with customers over social channels? At this stage in the game, I would say it is an imperative. If you’re not doing it, customers will go where they can get instantaneous service over any marketing channel. Does your brand collect all data, down to the keystroke, around the web interactions that are occurring? If not, why not? If so, what happens with the data that is collected?
Digital Intelligence and Analytics
So we have the digital data, it’s been collected. What do we do with it now? How do we use it to derive insight and how do we make it actionable? I propose that data is taken, combined with data from other traditional and/or non-digital channels, and used in the following ways:
- Use digital data to understand how customers are interacting with your web properties at the individual level. How did a certain customer navigate the website, where they did get stuck or succeed and why did that happen? What patterns does a certain customer exhibit over time? Do they always go to your website for research but never for purchase? Traditional web analytics doesn't answer that question.
- Use digital data in your outbound marketing efforts. If you know what a customer is doing on a web or social channel, and they don’t exhibit the desired behavior of the brand (buy the product or service), then we want to encourage them to do that. Use digital data for customer retargeting, or “re” marketing automation. Sending me an offer for a credit card when I only look at mutual funds on your website wastes consumer attention and just doesn't make sense.
- Use digital data in real time marketing programs. What does this mean? It means knowing where the customer is in his or her digital journey with you and reacting appropriately, from an inbound perspective. How would it change the game if each individual customer, based on their interest and preferences, received a customized homepage from your web team. Wow -- what would that do for product sales over time? Every offer via your web channel would be anticipated, relevant to their needs and preferences and personal.
Digital Ecosystem Integration
This one might be the toughest to achieve of the three. Why? Organizations have traditionally been formed around departments: Market Research has their own data. The Sales Organization has their own data. Customer Service has their own data. Would one organization’s data be valuable to the others? Absolutely. Can they get to it easily today? Probably not.
How can you market to customers in the most efficient and effective way if you don’t know who or why they interacted with your organization last? It is crucial to take all data, from all departments, and create a single customer profile that exists over the lifetime of a customer -- that details the transactional, purchase and behavioral history a single customer has exhibited with your brand. Imagine the benefit to a hotel marketing department if they had access to revenue management data. I would venture to say that very few if any organizations have truly integrated digital data into a single ecosystem. But the value of getting to this state is immense, and will have a profound impact on the digital customer journey.
So, as you think about how to transform the digital journey your customers take -- so as to not give consumer the sense of “deja-vu” -- by delivering an offer that is repetitive, irrelevant and non-personal -- consider the items above. Think about how you can collect detailed digital data, wring intelligence from it via analytics, and then integrate that intelligence into your digital engagement applications -- in order to perform true closed loop marketing. Create an experience for your customers that is truly a delight -- and not more of the same.