The digital marketing world was all abuzz when Forrester Research made the bold statement that web content management was now part of a larger category they dubbed Customer Experience Management (CXM). The logic was reasonably clear -- it is difficult to manage content in the absence of really understanding the customer.

A truly effective CXM strategy allows marketers to improve content management by creating a positive customer experience that improves satisfaction, increases revenues and strengthens engagement. It leverages digital intelligence to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time. In the future it will be the ever evolving CEO’s (the Chief Experience Officer) job to effectively combine technology and digital intelligence to ultimately leverage CXM.

However, all marketers need to understand what digital intelligence really means and how it is leveraged to deliver a more effective customer experience.

Digital Intelligence Defined

Forrester Research defines digital intelligence this way:

The capture, management and analysis of data to provide a holistic view of the digital customer experience that drives the measurement, optimization and execution of marketing tactics and business strategies."

Simple enough, right? Use data to improve marketing. Got it. Well, there are a few challenging words in there. The first is the word “holistic.” With today’s proliferation of digital channels, fueled by the explosive growth of mobile accessibility and social networks, holistic “digital intelligence” is a whole lot more complicated than it was even just a few years ago.

The second challenging word is “drives.” How does one use data to drive action? Particularly when it comes to optimizing the customer experience right NOW based on current scenarios, but also what happened last week with the same customer in a different digital channel.

The truth is that this digital intelligence is the result of an evolution that’s been happening for some time. In the early days of the Internet, if you had a digital presence it was a website and only a website. “Intelligence” in this context was the domain of log file analysis or web analytics, and it was aggregate in nature. A few evolutionary steps later (Figure 1) and we’ve gained widespread use of digital analytics, and are now heading towards digital intelligence.

Though we still haven’t reached digital intelligence at a broad scale, it’s beginning to emerge strongly. While we’re generally beginning to focus more on people rather than aggregate metrics, and look at more than one channel, most solutions that talk about multi-channel actually just look at metrics for one channel at a time.

Cross-channel, on the other hand, means understanding a single customer across multiple channels. Very few people are talking about true cross-channel behavioral metrics because it’s quite a bit more complex. However, it’s unquestionably more valuable, and it is coming. How can you begin to harness digital intelligence for success?


Figure 1: Webtrends

The evolution toward digital intelligence to drive CXM means we need to start to demand more from our data to improve its actionability in the following five ways:

  1. Data Must be Visitor-Centric -- Aggregate data is simply not useful in CXM. No “C” or “Customer,” means no “CXM.”
  2. Cross-Channel -- The web-channel is not enough. In many cases, it’s not even the most trafficked property. You need to understand the complete digital experience.
  3. Right-Time to Real-Time -- Action needs to be gathered at the right time in order to optimize results -- even if that’s NOW. Today’s rapid-paced campaigns simply can’t wait until after the analysis is complete, because the customer will be gone.
  4. Open -- Digital intelligence isn’t an exercise in data warehousing or fancy business intelligence. It’s about putting the data to use immediately. If the data is locked up in a propriety system, it’s of limited value in CXM. And intelligence needs to move from “Pull” to “Push,” meaning that it must proactively inform other marketing systems -- not just wait to be queried.
  5. Predictive -- Digital intelligence is not just Big Data. It’s the intersection of Big Data with Big Science -- predictive in nature and immediately actionable. By combining these five critical elements, marketing moves from static, reactive and aggregate, to dynamic, proactive and personalized.

Customers Doing it Right

Nobody will get it right overnight. But many companies are taking important early steps, and still others are already surprisingly sophisticated. Here are a few examples of companies taking some great steps toward digital intelligence for CXM:

Polaris Industries

Polaris Industries, a maker of recreational vehicles, wanted to better engage with their customers to generate higher sales and revenues. They built a web-based intelligence dashboard to gauge the effectiveness of their marketing efforts across website, email marketing and social media channels.

Even though Polaris uses different systems for each channel, the company works to understand engagement and behaviors by collecting data from each of the various marketing tools. Doing this provides a foundation for improving direct marketing efforts, including data on email campaigns, online advertising and website messages. Polaris has seen a dramatic improvement in customer engagement.

We use insights to make improvements across all of our brands, to maximize engagement and return on spend, while at the same time increasing our audience base,” said Kim Weckert, Interactive Manager for Polaris Industries. “With real-time business intelligence in the hands of its marketers, Polaris can continue to boost its return on marketing investment. The level of customer engagement, overall, is vastly higher.”

Source: Polaris Sharepoint Server 2010

Telegraph Media Group

Mobile measurement is critical to the UK-based news publisher, Telegraph Media Group. Understanding subscribers’ reading behaviors enabled the publisher to successfully deploy and enhance its Telegraph for iPad app and identify new opportunities to monetize through mobile advertising.

Telegraph uses digital intelligence to inform important decisions around the type of content, the times of day when content is consumed and the depth of the engagement and overall subscriber loyalty and retention. The company’s approach was smart and methodical.

Why Digital Intelligence is Critical for Effective CXM

CXM is not a product. You can’t buy it off the shelf. And if you’re a vendor, you can’t sell it in a box. CXM is enabled through a superior set of applications that each deliver on a component of CXM. And while several of these components may have their own integrated analytics, it’s typically surface-level analysis, and limited to the single component in which it resides. A unified view of the customer simply does not exist if you rely on the disparate analytics from a set of point-solutions.

What digital intelligence enables is this unified view -- the integration of data from across multiple sources and multiple channels, centered around the individual, such that you can present the most relevant offers, messaging and timing -- regardless of which channel the customer is experiencing at the moment.

The Human Element Remains Critical

For all the emerging technology, it takes humans to be human. While marketers must intelligently deploy technology, they must continue to depend on people, not just software, to craft the messages, create the offers and determine the right content to deliver to their customers through traditional and social media platforms. Marketers must still do the marketing.

However, tomorrow’s Chief Experience Officer (the new CEO) will be able to more easily understand complex data sets, and will know how to bring the human element to digital engagement. It will be the new CEO’s job to master the art and science of customer experience to improve relevance.

An effective combination of technology and digital marketing expertise can help get the right message at the right time, to the right audience through the right channel. CXM delivered through digital intelligence.