Online engagement is at the top of online marketers’ lists today. Cross Channel Engagement makes these efforts work in synergy. Here’s how you can boost the ROI on your online engagement strategy in 3 steps using intelligent profiling

Imagine a world where you are instantly recognized on all websites and other channels of an organization and every channel is tailored to your needs.

Imagine you surf and select products in an online shop. You send an e-mail to the shop and get instant reply, including relevant information about yourself that you left on the website. Tweet about the shop and get feedback from them. Call the shop with a question about the availability of a product and, without saying anything, you are recognized as yourself, along with your preferences and intentions. Based on the behavior you exhibited during your website visit and the information you gave in your e-mail and in your Tweet, you are instantly provided with perfect information regarding the availability of the product you are interested in. Imaging walking into the store to find that the shop assistants have your selected products ready for you and then they wish you a pleasant day.

Sadly, this is not the practice in today’s world. Customers are digital nomads who increasingly switch channels during their journey, the number of channels is growing rapidly, the technological possibilities per channel vary widely and ways to recognize a consumer are vastly different on all these channels. Is it impossible to make your way through this? Not if you have right concepts and the right technology. I have identified 3 crucial steps necessary to provide the ultimate engagement solution for online marketers.

Step 1 -- Profiling

The first step is to start profiling customers. The best way to do this depends on the type of channel. On a website this can be done simply by, for example, asking customers to register by creating an account. You immediately start to gain more insight into your registered customers and can tailor your website to the customer’s preferences.

Now, while this is an excellent start to collecting customer data and working towards a more customer-driven engagement, it does have several disadvantages. The most glaring one is that customers who don’t register will not deliver any insights, except for some aggregated analytics data. Aggregated data is great, but because it doesn’t contain information about the identity of the particular person, you can’t use it to improve their experience.

Step 2 -- Progressive Profiling

To work around this disadvantage, you can use the concept of Progressive Profiling. Progressive Profiling is the collecting of all kinds of data that a customer unintentionally leaves behind. For example by their buying patterns, their clicking behavior or the way they navigate and search. Through unobtrusive and careful listening to all the actions a customer performs, you can create a profile of the individual customer step by step without explicitly asking them to fill in a form or use other difficult methods to profile them. In this way you gradually get to know your customer without frustrating him or her with disruptive questioning or login procedures.

Progressive Profiling is a very powerful way to profile. The problem with profiling in general and with progressive profiling in particular is that it takes place on isolated channels. This results in multiple silos of customer information and in the end leads to a disjointed customer journey. More to the point, it means that when a customer switches from one channel to another, say from a website to an iPhone app or from the telephone to the physical store, they have to express their preferences all over again.

Step 3 -- Cross Channel Progressive Profiling

This is where the concept of Cross-Channel Progressive Profiling comes in in order to create a complete engagement for your customers. It means collecting data by carefully listening to and monitoring the behavior and intent of your customers without using obtrusive profiling tools across all your channels at the same time. And by channels we mean your website, your iPhone site or app, your store, your call center, etc. The collected data is stored in one broad customer profile silo instead of in multiple fragmented silos.

Facilitating and enhancing cross channel Progressive Profiling consists of three concepts: customer recognition, profile merging and identity transfer. These three concepts, combined in the right way, lead to a global profile database across all channels, which in turn leads to better customer insights, higher customer value, higher customer conversion and in the end to higher revenue.

In short, these three concepts boil down to the following. First, it’s important to recognize a customer and then identify them. That ID can be a login, an e-mail address, a passport, a subscriber number, a loyalty program card or anything else that uniquely identifies them. When the customer is recognized on two different channels as the same person, the two profiles on the two channels can then be merged, leading to a richer and more complete profile.

Sometimes it’s even possible to transfer the identity from one channel to another channel. For example, by sending an e-mail, containing links with the e-mail address or an SMS with a link containing their mobile telephone number. This prevents the creating of two separate profiles because the consumer is instantly recognized on the new channel as the same one that came from the other channel.

Customer, Not Content, First

The essence of engagement is getting to know the customer as soon as possible. Using
cross-channel progressive profiling, you are constantly listening to your customers across all of your touchpoints, brands and channels in an intelligent, unobtrusive way.

By understanding your customers and targeting them with only the content, products and services they need, customer engagement will dramatically increase. This in turn leads to higher customer value, higher conversion rates, higher customer satisfaction and, ultimately, to higher revenue.