This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of From Community to Commerce: Making the ROI Connection. This webinar featured Meagan Fish (@iRobot) Global Social Media Manager, iRobot, Andrew Ashton (@@AndrewLAshton) Digital Marketing Specialist, Pizza Hut and Jordan Slabaugh (@jordanv) Vice President of Marketing, Wayin. We discussed a ton of ideas on how to capture ROI in social media!
Here are three key takeaways from the webinar:
- Social Media has gone mainstream ow so you should be measuring social media in the same way that you measure any other marketing investment
- Match your CRM data with social data to start building out a clearer picture of your audience and be more relevant to them
- There is no ROI in social without the “I” – so that means you have to make in investment to get in ROI
To get a copy of the slides or to listen to the replay, please click here. You can also scan the highlights of this webinar on Twitter by reading the Storify below.
Our next webinar is titled Making the Case for Employee Advocacy At Your Firm; be sure to sign up for it or view the schedule of other upcoming webinars here.
It’s apparent that there’s a missing vital component in the quest to modernize marketing. Today’s marketing organizations are aggressively modernizing, automating and adding more digitally centered marketing tactics as they focus on their mandate to discover prospects and create new customers. To meet the challenge, CMOs have turbocharged Marketing Ops teams and are building their “Marketing Clouds,” leveraging marketing automation to nurture prospects, adding CRM to manage pipeline and customer relationships, while spending millions on branded websites and social pages, coupled with billions on media to promote their offerings. We are not connecting that media investment, the prospects generated, nor their data, with our marketing systems and processes. Integration between the two is a critical missing link.
The prospect marketing effort, which is predominantly driven by third-party media investments in content syndication, search and advertising, is still very fragmented and, worse, seldom measured or optimized. Disconnected and unable to adequately track and optimize media spend, marketing organizations struggle with lead velocity, mixed data quality and a lack of ability to attribute results back to the source or measure ROI. This is a tough hit for marketing executives as they realize how much money they’re actually spending on media to create prospects—$40 billion+ on digital advertising alone in 2013, according to the IAB.
Here are 3 areas of focus for CMOs and marketing pros who are out to modernize their approach in order to drive a higher return on media and technology investment should consider:
- Integrate third-party media investment and data with marketing systems and processes. Today, engaging with the media community (publishers, affiliates and other sources) combined with the internal marketing processes necessary to get data into systems, requires numerous manual processes—hours of data scrubbing and lots of spreadsheets passed between media providers and marketing teams. A more efficient approach is to automate by integrating the prospect and lead data garnered from media campaigns and partners directly with your marketing automation system and/or your CRM. Ensuring the data is delivered directly into your current systems eliminates numerous manual, resource-intensive tasks.
- Validate prospect information in order to inject quality, actionable data, and thereby increase lead velocity and lower media costs. Once you decide to directly inject prospect data from your third party media sources, it becomes essential that the media-driven data you’ve paid for is validated, cleansed and formatted for your marketing systems (Eloqua, Marketo, Salesforce, Pardot, etc.). This not only ensures that you get what you paid for from your media investment, it also allows you to more rapidly get down to the business of nurturing and developing customers.
- “Close the Loop” to garner actionable insights that can be applied to optimize media campaigns and marketing programs. Today, we have the ability to gather data from every campaign we run but most of it we can’t and don’t act on. Whether you leverage banners, email, content syndication, telemarketing, search or a combination and whether you utilize cost per acquisition, lead, sale, click or incoming call, you need to analyze marketing performance data by media channel, media source, creative, content, offers and campaigns all in one place. Then you can more easily acquire insights that can be applied to optimize campaigns by focusing on higher performing tactics, redistributing media spend across the most successful media sources, and applying the resulting audience data to fine tune targeting parameters.
Taking action on the missing link is a necessity. If you are investing in media to generate prospects and acquire customers, be certain to connect those media programs with the rest of your marketing systems and process.
This post was written in collaboration with Integrate – learn more about Integrate at http://www.integrate.com
With constant access to a growing list of channels and devices, today’s connected customers are no longer satisfied with vanilla, one-size-fits-all experiences and offers. To stand out in the increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace, many C-level executives from the world’s most iconic brands are not content with just “Keeping Up With the Joneses.” Instead, they are actively seeking opportunities to better understand their high-value customers across every channel and device.
The reason for this is simple: These customers are more often than not brand loyalists and willing to persuade others to become regular brand purchasers if they’re kept happy and engaged consistently in every single place they are interactive with brands. But the task of keeping brands happy and engaged beyond one big “win” isn’t easy. It requires CMOs and the entire business, for that matter, to combine their internal resources with technology that’s both powerful and agile enough to boost customer engagement and revenue long term. And a brand’s success today, in this hyperconnected and digitally dependent environment we live in, depends heavily on leveraging digital to reward high-value customers. Rather than spout out a to-do list of tactics that show high-value customers they’re appreciated, here are some specific benefits instead that can be derived from deep and sophisticated forms of segmentation:
Don’t confuse high-value customers for high-volume customers.
In the less digitally savvy days, brands and their teams of analytics “experts” would navigate through Excel spreadsheets with massive amounts of data. In those days, there was sometimes confusion and lack of knowledge as to what constitutes a high-value customer. As a result, high-volume customers would often be mistakenly categorized, and subsequently treated, as high-value customers. But the reality was, and still is today, that people who interact with a brand frequently aren’t necessarily going to be the ones that have the most value from the perspective of consistent engagement, conversions and sales across multiple channels – from being inside a physical store to making a last-minute purchase on their mobile devices or shopping from their PCs. So it was common for those brands to see a huge surge in traffic for a short burst of time, but after the excitement faded, so did the engagement and ROI.
Marketers today need to adopt a more realistic and accurate definition of value that’s based on “the combination of opportunities to convert and increase potential order value, and maximizes both, while at the same time, yields your highest value customers.” But identifying the best customers online and serving them the content they need is easier said than done. The key to obtaining a 360-degree view of high-value customers means personalizing and differentiating every message by offering an array of online content to drive maximum conversion and revenue uplifts.
To get there, the modern brands of today must, and I repeat must, push beyond the basic forms of personalization – think product recommendations or ads that chase you around on the Web. Instead, these brands are likely to be best served by leveraging the power of technology, real-time data and automated segmentation to effectively profile individuals who are in actuality high-value customers. That identification is the first hurdle that brands need to overcome. From there, it’s all about extending personalization across every device and channel to delight and please consumers with the most humanly relevant, easy-to-navigate and engaging offers.
Tap into the beauty of data to boost cross-channel ROI.
The urgency to identify high-value customers online is being fueled by a number of factors. First, the online channel represents the biggest growth opportunity for most brands. According to a new Forrester Research global eCommerce report, e-commerce revenues are going to continue to grow in 2014 as customers’ online buying habits evolve. Meanwhile, a new study released by IBM in 2014 reveals that brands stand to lose $83 billion due to poor customer experiences.
When you think about it, that’s a lot of revenue that could be left on the table if brands don’t put every segment of their customers first. For example, brands are able to gather intelligence on channels shopped — including Web, tablet, mobile phone or store — and then integrate data from a CRM system, POS, DPM or other source to help augment customer profiles. By combining intelligence on shopping history, search history and Web behavior, this combined intelligence can help brands identify when to offer an in-store promotion, extend a seasonal offer or make a product recommendation. If brands are able to identify their high-value customers, then they can scale the business more efficiently and ensure that every decision and action they make is focused on delivering the right actions defined by the right data.
Discover unique attributes of unique markets.
One common challenge that today’s brands face is a tendency to make decisions based on data points as opposed to data profiles. In these instances, it’s not that uncommon for brands to use pre-existing data models to identify their buyer personas as well as the content and offers they deliver on their websites and mobile sites.
By using automated segmentation and targeting, brands should be able to detect segments unique to their brands and industries. This process turns traditional targeting on its head because buyer profiles and offers are all determined by real-time intelligence gathered against real-time customer behavior. One example of such a data profile could be a “weekend shopper” persona. Based on their digital behavior and purchase activity, these shoppers may spend significantly more money (at multiple channels) than mid-week shoppers. So it’s more than likely these shoppers would be frustrated and intolerant of being shown irrelevant and mismatched offers that would better suit mid-week shoppers. That is where many brands today realize that even with all the benefits of technology, they have made shoppers that much less tolerant and patient with poor experiences.
Move away from campaign analysis; bring it back to the customer.
One of the ways brands have traditionally gathered intelligence on customer behaviors is through basic A/B testing of different content and offers. Building on the quantifiable value of testing, many innovative brands are now shifting from campaign-driven analysis to a more holistic and accurate customer-driven analysis. By doing so, marketers can get a more robust and humanistic view of every single customer segment, as well as being able to identify which segments are performing better than others. With businesses – across all teams – being challenged to consistently demonstrate ROI, this ability to gauge the value of high-value customers and appropriately target them with the best content on the best devices at the best times and places, is especially critical to success.
Responsive design brings a variety of benefits – both for brand marketers and the consumers interacting with content across multiple devices. According to data from a December 2012 study conducted by eConsultancy, nearly 70 percent of client-side marketers described their experience level with responsive design as “average” or better, and more than half of that group described their companies as “ahead of the curve” or “state of the art” when it came to the design technique.
As advanced as some brands and in-house digital marketers may believe they are in responsive design, there are still quite a few challenges that optimization experts and digital marketers must heed. Here are some lessons CMOs can use to get strategic in their approach while driving real, impact-filled growth to the bottom line.
Rule #1: Don’t Become Complacent
Since the mobile marketplace is extremely dynamic and the mobile consumer is ever changing, don’t become complacent just because you launched a responsive-design site. At the beginning of 2013, tablet users were already showing a higher conversion rate than desktop shoppers. Moreover, 20 percent of mobile users use it as their primary device. This means consumers are evolving more quickly than you may think, so closely monitor your analytics. In fact, companies like Gilt have seen a 100 percent increase in mobile users in a single year.
Rule #2: Always Be Refining
Rule #3: Never Stop Testing and Learning
Always be testing and learning with your responsive-design site so that key information and functions are visible, prioritized and accessible to people regardless of what device they are using. Getting shoppers to move through the entire funnel – starting on the home page and moving to key product and landing pages all the way through the checkout process – is no easy feat. Each consumer, be it a first-time visitor or a longtime brand advocate, wants something different and unique from the checkout process. For a big-box apparel retailer, for example, free shipping can prove effective in rewarding high-value customers and cultivating loyalty among a brand’s average customers. This is where testing and learning play an integral role in pinpointing the optimal threshold for free shipping to boost online sales and grow the brand’s market share amid competitors. The data and insights delivered from a test-and-learn strategy could very well disprove brand assumptions and, in turn, generate the type of ROI brands seek such as higher average order value, as well as an increase in purchase conversions and overall revenue.
Rule #4: Leverage All Data
Even the most basic site analytics can reveal huge potential opportunities. Incorporating analytics early in the development of a responsive-design site is important. Set your responsive breakpoints you seek to track within your analytics solution and run a report for traffic to specific pages by device type. You’ll be able to glean a wealth of information about which areas of your site are seeing the heaviest tablet traffic, compared to areas with significant upticks in smartphone-only traffic. You’ll also be able to see which areas produce low traffic or poor conversions. This tactic can help you optimize the customer experience to drive customer engagement, loyalty, conversions and revenue consistently for the long haul.
Back in 2001, when Google AdWords was just launched, I remember the day that my first pay-per-click (PPC) campaign yielded the first batch of leads for the company I was working for. In all, this tactic generated 42 leads, and a significant portion was even qualified. Better yet, the price was just right, ranging between 15 to 25 cents per click. It seemed like a great tool to grow our website traffic, as well as an effective means for generating unique leads. There was no doubt in my mind we were going to scale this campaign.
Since then, a lot has changed in the PPC world. Now there is a great deal more available in terms of competitive products from other search engines like Bing. You don’t just have an array of search ads; now there are native ads on Google that replicate the search experience, remarketing display ads, mobile ads, Facebook-sponsored ads, sponsored tweets via Twitter and LinkedIn ads. The CMO has fallen in love with performance-based ads like these PPC ad vehicles, mainly because they work (to some extent) and it’s easy to justify a budget for it when a return can be clearly shown to the CFO.
But like any ad, the efficacy of a single ad deteriorates over time because people become numb to repeated exposure to the ad. So the typical reaction is to change the ad around and run it again. But what happens when the efficacy of the ad network declines? The usual approach from marketers is to simply run more ads and spread them out in different places — all in the hopes that they will stick somewhere. But hope and guesswork do not make an effective strategy.
It’s amazing to me that so many enterprise-level CMOs focus on increasing their digital advertising budgets as the first option to increase online engagement. That’s only going to lead to a flawed strategy and less-than-stellar results. Why would you spend a lot of money, resources and staff hours on mobile ads if the online or mobile experience itself frustrates, irks and turns away customers?
What CMOs need to do is focus on creating seamless, easy-to-use-and-navigate, relevant and meaningful experiences for customers, regardless of their device or channel. And that doesn’t mean launching a full redesign of your website with fancy UX architecture, nor does it mean you should put all your mobile eggs into the responsive design basket. It means taking the slow and steady approach to test and tweak every single experience across the entire engagement funnel and using real-time data to power more personalized experiences that meet the individual needs, habits and behaviors of customers.
But before CMOs raise their hands in the air in praise of online testing and personalization, they need to make sure that they’re measuring the right metrics (that really matter for their business). For instance, analyze bounce rates and your average number of page views. These types of insights can tell you a story about your visitors — who they are, what they’re doing, where they’re going within your website or mobile site and what types of actions they’re taking. What if you have a high double-digit bounce rate of 30%, 40% or even 50%? This is what’s commonly known as the “show up and throw up” approach in the Web business. Most likely, you have a low single-digit page view of 1.xx or 2.xx, which is not uncommon. This is where the money is literally falling out of your budget. And that’s not something CMOs can or should take lightly.
Consider taking a piece of your PPC ad budget and instead, put it to good use by testing and optimizing your online experience. I’m not talking about search engine optimization (SEO). What I’m talking about is making every single page a funnel within a website or mobile site optimized and personalized for the actual traffic you are driving to it. For example, if Facebook is driving a certain portion of traffic to your website, are you using all of the data you have about those visitors and combining it with Facebook data to create the most intuitive, relevant and engaging on-site experience to convert “lookers” into purchasers? If a mobile ad is directing smartphone users to your mobile site, have you tested the specific page they’re landing on and optimizing it to drive higher engagement, conversions and cross-channel revenue? If your answer is no, then you have a serious problem.
The reality is that in a world where the consumer reigns supreme, there is an abundance of opportunities for brands to connect, interact with, speak to, engage and convert casual browsers into loyal brand advocates. So it’s high time brands stop running themselves ragged with PPC ads and start putting their attention toward creating a unified customer experience across every single device and channel.
When faced with multiple products, the time it takes for a shopper to make a purchase decision between them is usually three to seven seconds. These critical moments are known as the First Moment of Truth (or FMOT), and they determine whether or not all the advertising and promotion marketers have invested will pay off. Thanks to the Internet, another critical moment for consumer/brand interactions is also getting attention: the Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT). ZMOT encompasses the time between consumers’ first exposure to advertising for a product and the ultimate purchase decision—with emphasis what happens in between those two things: online research of the product.
According to a study by Google (who came up with the ZMOT concept), before deciding whether or not to buy:
- 50% of shoppers used a search engine to get more information on a product or brand
- 38% comparison shopped online
- 36% checked out the brand/manufacturer’s website
- 31% read online endorsements, reviews or recommendations
These behaviors have redefined the way marketers now plan for online shoppers—causing a tremendous shift away from the way they used to plan their campaigns. Marketers who sell high-end goods like electronics, furniture or cars are no strangers to these shopping patterns, but these days, customers apply them to practically everything they buy. Having a good product and a solid awareness campaign is no longer enough; now there’s a more informed and discerning customer base to cater to. They check in with their trusted third-party sources, and expect your message to be consistent from desktop to mobile to tablet and back again. It’s a tall order…but not an impossible one.
Here are some ideas to help win at the Zero Moment of Truth:
Back in the day—uh, about 10 short years ago—marketers knew more about their products than their consumers did, and had the luxury of acting as the gatekeepers of brand information. These days, consumers aren’t as passive; they’re active, engaged and are likely to know as much about what’s being sold as the people selling it to them (if not more). When they have something to say about a product, they’re not just saying it to the company that sold it to them, they’re talking to each other, at an exponential rate.
Mobile tech and devices are crucial to this process. On the go, customers search for store locations, compare prices and features, and call family and friends to get opinions. At home, they’ll respond to a TV or radio ad by firing up search engines on their second screens. So optimizing company websites for mobile is a no-brainer.
Here are some things to consider when doing so:
- Improve page load speeds by leaving out huge graphics and Flash content.
- Make sure your site design translates to smaller smartphone screens as well as it does to larger tablet and desktop ones.
- Use A/B and Multivariate testing on as many site elements as possible—namely, content, design, shopping cart process—to see what gets your mobile audience excited.
- Don’t be afraid to track mobile marketing separately from other web campaigns; according to Google’s study, mobile-only campaigns perform 11.5% better than hybrid desktop/mobile ones.
You already know people are talking about your brand on the Web, so you need to do your utmost to embrace and be a part of that conversation.
If people are searching for your brand online with questions, you’d better have useful and engaging answers for them—because if you don’t, your competition surely will. Product reviews and recommendations are major resources for consumers doing research; make sure they’re prominently displayed on the product pages of your website.
Don’t be nervous about opening up your site to user comments and feedback, because honestly…most reviews are good reviews. According to a Bazaarvoice study, 80% of online reviews on a given retail site are written by the top 20% of the site’s most committed and loyal customers. Even the occasional thumbs-down is a good sign; shoppers see negative reviews as proof of an unbiased, truthful environment.
Video is another crucial aspect of ZMOT; product showcases, how-to demonstrations, B2B case studies…whatever your market, customers will want to see what you have on offer before opening their wallets. Shoppers love to send videos to each other via email, post them to social networks or embed them in their blogs or personal websites, so make sure your videos are easy for customers to share. Try adding a YouTube channel to your social media arsenal. Increase the reach of your TV advertisements by posting them online.
If there’s no stylistic connection between your company’s main website, your social media pages, and your offline marketing campaigns, shoppers are bound to get confused or challenge the legitimacy of your online presence. Keep branding elements and logos consistent between all your marketing channels, so consumers trust that they’re exactly where they need to be and know precisely who they’re dealing with.
Don’t just pay attention to style—your content also has to be consistent across channels and campaigns. Shoppers are using various pathways to find you; if they see conflicting product descriptions or huge price discrepancies between channels, they’re likely to lose confidence in your brand and look elsewhere. Also, it’s important to keep your online content fresh and updated. If customers keep seeing the same old commentary on your main site, or your social media sites haven’t been updated in months, they might think you’ve gone out of business—and you’ll lose their business.
A huge part of succeeding at ZMOT is being able to define and understand your target audience, in order to provide them with specific experiences attuned to their needs. Not only are consumers seeking information about your products, but their searches also allow you to gain insight that helps you give them exactly what they’re looking for.
Use information gathered from website behaviors to create user profiles that can be segmented by various attributes: geography, time of day, viewing device, media channel, web browser, etc. This personalized approach can be as simple (one or two collected insights) or as complex (mathematical algorithms that dynamically adjust and predict displayed content) as your specific campaigns require. Once created, these profiles provide better, more relevant customer engagement.
Product reviews and recommendations come back into play here, because when consumers engaging in ZMOT use them, they’re not thinking of them as opinions from strangers—instead the reviews and recs are perceived as coming from people like themselves, who’ve been in the same situation and had similar questions. Personalization helps online marketers connect consumers with the product advice most suited with their particular need, which can lead to a desired purchase. Those customers can then post their own reviews or recommendations, informing other consumers undergoing their own ZMOT…and the beat goes on.
ZMOT is a fantastic way to gain awareness on customer interest and satisfaction; putting these various methods to work for you will keep your brand in the forefront of shoppers’ minds and attentions, giving you the ability to trounce your competition and make the sale.
The phenomenon of big data certainly comes with big promise. After all, having terabytes of data on customer history and behavior is certainly better than trying to extrapolate from just a few data points.
For sure, online marketers who make sense of big data are going to be better able to build customer experiences around hard data and evidence rather than on hunches and guesswork. Instead of working on intuition, or crude analytics, you could use definitive evidence to design product pages that lure your best customers directly toward the shopping cart. You’d know exactly when to introduce your promotions and offers, and you’d know which promotion would work best with each particular customer. You could optimize your online interface, so that everything from search to registration to “Place Order” was virtually friction-free.
Getting to that point, however, requires first harnessing the data. It is no small feat to integrate huge amounts of data from a variety of sources. It is even trickier to figure out exactly how to translate that information into more visits and fuller shopping carts—in real time, customer by customer.
The good news is, there are technologies and tools that make it much easier to find the gold hidden in the data—and use it to refine your online marketing with laser precision. But there’s a mind-set at work here, too—a way of thinking about data that may involve some shifts in culture, depending on where your organization is right now.
Having worked with a number of online marketers who needed to tame big data, here are six steps to help you get there:
1) Think continuous evolution and iteration, not instantaneous.
Yes, big data can fundamentally shift the way you do business. But don’t try to change everything at once. It’s far more productive to adopt a “test and learn” philosophy. Two dozen incremental improvements in site design or wording or personalization can get you much further than trying to “innovate” in one fell swoop. We see this every day.
The most successful marketers are optimizing and refining all the time. They steadily move ahead, with a thousand baby steps, finding something to improve almost every day.
Note: This tactic may call for some adjustments to Web development processes. The most agile marketers can typically go “live” with tweaks, adjustments or tests in a matter of hours. (Slow marketers wait for the next release. Don’t do that.)
2) Align big data goals with your individual business goals.
Create separate initiatives or projects for each of your business goals, such as acquiring new customers, boosting conversion rates, improving customer loyalty or increasing lifetime customer value. This approach makes it much easier to determine what type of data to reel in, and exactly how to use it. Focus a team or a project on one objective at a time.
3) Sell the concept internally.
In some organizations, moving toward data-driven, evidence-based marketing may call for some extra communication to get everyone on board:
- Encourage knowledge sharing, continual learning. Let everyone know what you found out.
- Simplify everything. Present data and outcomes in easy-to-understand terms that managers can use to make decisions. Use pictures and graphs.
- Communicate plans and achievements across the organization. Don’t hide results.
4) Create one team for big data.
You will need to include marketing strategists, analytics gurus and Web developers. And especially creatives, who may sometimes feel threatened or hampered by having to work with hard evidence.
Then integrate with those responsible for e-commerce and site optimization. No silos allowed.
Find a committed, obsessed, dedicated executive to drive the process and act as a focus for future customer experience innovations.
5) Your own data is best. By far.
The real-time data that your website and CRM systems are gathering is far more valuable than anything you can obtain from an outside vendor. Because it’s about your own living, breathing customers, it is data that your competitors don’t have. Advantage, you.
Examples of the typical aggregate data you can capitalize on in a big data strategy:
- Acquisition source
- Interaction behavior
- Transaction behavior
- Recency of visits
- Frequency of visits
- Social attributes
- Form inputs
- Conversion rates
- Conversion values by product or category interests
6) Aim for real-time optimization, customer by customer.
For most marketers, the goal should be to make in-session decisions as to what customers should see, what offers you recommend and what you say to them.
Craft a custom experience for each visitor, and they’ll buy more.
Do all of this, and they’ll be back.
This article was originally published on iMedia Connection
If the $42.3 billion spent online this past holiday season has taught retailers anything, it’s that capturing customers—and their dollars—online is crucial.
But online is a big place. And mobile, which can seem like an entirely different universe, looms ever larger. So where to even start if you haven’t yet…started? And who should lead the charge?
The modern day merchant must have an intimate understanding of the importance of online and mobile commerce, access to a vast array of customer data, and a strategy for transforming this analytical data into winning online experiences.
In all cases, the goal is to attract and retain both new and returning customers. Whether online novices or experts, business leaders crave insight on how to accomplish this. The question is: who inside the company can embody these traits and help the CEO rule the roost? That responsibility should belong to the chief marketing officer.
A CMO should be somebody who uniquely understands marketing, merchandising, data, analytics and web design, and who can also maintain a creative, innovative organizational structure. IT tends to lean too heavily toward data for data’s sake, while Sales too often relies on revenue and relationships.
Placing the CMO in charge allows for the best of both worlds. Armed with the science of data analysis and the art of consumer engagement, the CMO is well positioned to emulate merchant princes of old and join the ranks of retail royalty. A good CMO can nurture a culture of testing, measuring and learning instead of depending on guesswork and subjectivity, as well as reach out to those on the front lines of customer interactions to figure out what those customers want. The ambitious CMO knows that their company site must be more engaging than the competitions’, as well as a place that customers trust, valuing the available products, services and information on offer. It also needs to be a reliable gateway to actions that grow sales beyond the initial purchase, such as cross-selling and upselling.
What’s the best way to make all this happen? One word: data.
Data is crucial to online retail. It comes in many different forms, the main type being the individual behaviors of current site visitors: which search term or webpage brought them over, what time of day and day of the week they’re most likely to stop by, what recent purchases they’ve already made onsite, what pages they visit and what product categories most interest them. All this pertinent info helps define what the “best content” is for each specific viewer. Other types include customer relationship management (CRM) data and social media data.
The aspiring CMO must then use this accumulated data to gain perspective on what customers want; analytical optimization and personalization tools will aid in this quest. Segmentation sifts through the data to find discrete groups of people with similar traits and/or interests, who can then be targeted and tested with relevant content based on site activity. Product recommendations and other offers are then provided based on what the various groups are most likely to purchase.
Product information tools give customers a deeper understanding of the product at hand—a 360-degree view of an article of clothing, or a close-up of various types of textured materials. User-generated content, like ratings, reviews or social media feedback, also aids and influences purchasing decisions. The savvy CMO uses all these methods to strike the delicate balance between intuition and analysis.
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