Meeting the Customer Challenge with Technology
In a previous article, I discussed the Customer Challenge – the challenge organisations face to remain competitive in an age where:
- Traditional competitive barriers such as manufacturing strength, distribution power and IT mastery no longer create competitive advantage.
- Customers have unprecedented information at their fingertips – to easily find and compare prices, research how other customers rate companies and their products, and use this information to determine what they buy and from whom.
- Customers empowered with digital technology can determine an organisation’s success or failure and, as a result, are disrupting established industry.
In the past, there have been many barriers to entry for competitors, but this is no longer the case. The only competitive edge that companies can leverage is by putting the customer at the heart of what they do.
Forrester predicts that businesses that don’t restructure themselves in this way will be left behind (Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer 2013).
In this article, I’ll discuss how organisations can fight back using technology to meet the customer challenge, and arm themselves to ensure they are delivering a customer-centred service which sets them apart from their competitors.
- Big data
Big data means many things to many people. When I refer to big data here, I’m referring to the mass of data that organisations have, or are able to gather about their customers and their customers’ behaviour.
Web analytics software like Google Analytics is easy to install and is able to measure and report on customer behaviour on site. By default, Google Analytics records page impressions only, but it can be set up to track clicks and any other interactions on a site.
Key to using big data as part of your strategy is not only to collect it, but also to use it to understand your customer, and turn it into actionable insight by optimising your site based on this information.
Segmentation is a marketing strategy which involves dividing your broad user base into subsets that share (or are perceived to share) common needs, interests or priorities. You are then able to design and implement strategies to target these specific groups.
Typically, users can be segmented based on the following types of data:
- Behavioural data – what they are doing on the site e.g. what pages they are looking at. This can be used to determine the interests of a particular user, and where in their journey they currently are.
- Personal data – the data users are willing to give us about themselves e.g. date of birth, interests, job title, income etc.
- Contextual data – e.g. location, time of day, weather.
In an age where it is so important to meet the customer’s need, personalisation is a powerful tool in getting relevant information to the customer at the right time. Using personalisation allows you to build a website that delivers content to a customer in context of their circumstances.
Not only does this mean an improved experience for customers, it means better results for an organisation – customers are more likely to read and act on relevant content.
Segmentation can be used for delivery of broad stroke cross-channel content personalisation to target groups of users via website, email, social media or apps.
Visitors are shown personalised content based on segmenting them into personas based on their behavior and data
Personalisation can also be applied granularly by use of algorithms to surface the most relevant content for an individual user e.g. to cross-sell related products based on a customer’s previous buying history.
Some great examples of personalisation we’re all familiar with:
- Google personalises search queries and results specifically for users based on their previous behaviour (previous searches and sites they’ve clicked through to).
- Google Now brings you information you want, when you need it, such as contextual travel information, current weather, news and sports scores based on your interests.
- Amazon displays recommendations based on what a customer has previously purchased, by matching items that other customers who purchased this also purchased.
- A/B Testing
A/B testing is comparing two (or more) versions of a page to see which one performs best i.e. the one that drives the best conversion rate.
A/B testing gives insight into the type of content, offers and products that customers prefer, in turn enabling you to deliver more relevant content to customers.
- Marketing automation
Marketing automation allows an organisation to understand their high-value leads, and nurture these prospective leads to conversion.
Marketing automation includes:
- Lead scoring – a mechanism for scoring the value of prospects based on their behaviour. This allows organisations to deliver targeted campaigns to prospects at their point of need, and push them down the conversion funnel.
- Automated workflows – enabling organisations to automate repetitive marketing tasks that help to convert customers. For instance, a furniture retailer could set up a workflow with rules stipulating when a customer looks at the same product page on two separate occasions and also views delivery charges, to display a ‘free delivery’ voucher code (assuming them to be close to purchase).
- Email marketing – email programmes that are automatically triggered based on user behaviour. Abandoned basket emails are an example of this, or sending a follow-up email a few days after purchase with details of complimentary products and a discount code.
Marketing automation allows organisations to better target customers and prospects – rather than sending lots of emails to customers who aren’t interested and who may become ‘snow blind’, organisations can target hot prospects specifically in their time of need. This is a much more effective strategy than broad-brush marketing.
80% of marketing automation users saw their number of leads increase, and 77% saw the number of conversions increase. – VB Insight “Marketing Automation, how to make the right buying decision” (2015).
If you’re not familiar with any of the above strategies, it can be difficult to know where to start. Thankfully there are a host of different software products available that enable organisations to apply these strategies to their digital offering.
At True, we are continually evaluating the software available on the marketplace to enable sophisticated optimisation like the above. We build sites on software and CMS frameworks that have these abilities built-in. By doing so, we help our clients to stay ahead of the competition by ensuring they are meeting their customers’ needs.
If you’d like our help in maximising your conversion and getting the most from your digital investment get in touch.