to-gain-actionable-customer-insights,-ask-the-right-questions

Do you know why people show up on your website? Why they are interested in your brand? Do you know why they want to talk to your company? These are the questions brands need to be asking customers if they want actionable insights that deliver results, according to Tom Shapiro, CEO at Stratabeat.

Shapiro believes brands need to have a sharp focus when it comes to their customers’ goals. “What problems are they trying to tackle?” asked Shapiro during his workshop, Digging for Customer Insights, at this week’s DX Summit in Chicago. The CEO’s session outlined the questions brands should be asking to build better digital experiences, and shared tips on best practices for gathering and tracking insights that drive conversions and increase retention rates.

Start with segmentation to build accurate personas

Shapiro says segmentation is the best place to start when trying to understand the “who” behind your audience. By having website visitors self identify as soon as they show up on your site — for example, leveraging a question box on your homepage or a landing page that asks visitors, “Are you a CEO? CFO? In business intelligence? IT? Marketing?” — brands can instantly direct visitors toward relevant content.

Once a brand is able to segment their audience, they can then build personas per each segment. To build personas, ask questions like, “What websites do they visit? How are they consuming information? What are their goals?” advises Shapiro. He believes that 50% or more of a persona should be focused on the customer’s goals and challenges. Also, naming your personas helps humanize them. “You start to have empathy for that person,” said Shapiro.

Documenting your data

It is crucial that brands document the conversations they’re having with their audience to get a comprehensive “voice of the customer” view, says Shapiro. He lists several mechanisms for doing this, including: onsite surveys and conversation marketing tools (chatbots, live chat conversations, etc.).

He also is a big proponent of live interviews and in-person conversations with customers, as well as ethnographic field studies where brands can engage and listen to their audience communities. “You’ll get more information in one lunch [with a customer] than studying a month’s worth of Google Analytics,” said Shapiro.

Another method recommended by Shapiro is off-site surveys. “Find partners who have a massive audience already,” recommends Shapiro. Running a survey on a website with a much larger audience is the fastest way to scale your survey participation.

The analytics that matter

Shapiro strongly urges brands analyze their first-time visitor data against returning visitor data. “It’s a very different data set,” said Shapiro, “You’re going to muck up all of your data if you don’t separate these data sets.”

It’s also important to implement behavioral analytics to understand the visitor experience, according to Shapiro. He says page views don’t mean anything unless a brand has an in-depth understanding of what a customer is doing on their website — behavioral analytics help better understand the flow.

“There’s no reason in the world not to be using behavioral analytics,” said Shapiro.

Talk to your team

It’s crucial customer experience and marketing teams keep an open dialogue with their sales team. “This is something you have to do, it’s so critical,” said Shapiro, “They live in the voice of the customer.”

Customer support personnel is also a goldmine for understanding customer issues and can offer an important frame of reference. Listening to customer service issues — and using that information to build customer experiences — can help lift customer retention rates.

The goal, says Shapiro, is to take the insight provided by sales and customer support and use it to build digital experiences tailored for the customer.



About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Marketing Land, Search Engine Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.



awe-inspiring-customer-experience-starts,-and-ends,-without-‘gotchas’

Recently, I had a remarkable and inspiring customer experience with Maui Jim. So much so, that I will never buy any other brand of sunglasses ever again.

As a long time CX professional (CCXP and CXPA), it’s not easy to WOW me.  Here are the elements that made Maui Jim stand out:

  1. Have a great product they stand by.
  2. Listen to their customers.
  3. Follow through and do what they say they will.
  4. Strong partners in their distribution network.
  5. Easy to do business with no “gotchas.”

Let’s unpack this by answering the fundamental question of “what is customer experience?” While each company needs to define this for themselves, within the context of their brand promise and culture, a working definition is:

CX = In  X TnTPn

Customer experiences are the sum of ALL interactions, longitudinally, across touchpoints

Yes, it’s much greater than a single interaction and needs to be delivered consistently. That’s precisely why CX is everyone’s job and needs to be championed from the C-suite and orchestrated across lines of business and functions.

Here’s what made my Maui Jim customer experience awesome.

Maui Jim sunglasses are high performance eye protection. For sailors like me, we’re not averse to a pricey pair because we’re protecting our eyes from the sun and flying objects. Their glasses have a lifetime warranty, and I put it to the test. When racing in a high wind regatta, a sheet thwacked my face. The glasses protected my eye, but the frames broke. Same thing happened to my yacht-captain husband, so I returned two broken pairs for replacement.

I was informed by email that both pairs were discontinued and that they couldn’t fix either. But here’s how the Maui Jim team began to differentiate themselves. The email was from a real person with direct contact info – full name, email and direct dial phone number.  They actually wanted to talk to me and asked that I call them to discuss how they could make things right. They listened to me and made a personalized accommodation that we agreed upon. This wasn’t a standardized scripted dialog this was an empowered brand ambassador doing what was fair and reasonable. Not only that, but the supervisor was there in a moment collaborating with the call center representative and me to authorize our agreement. This was already unlike many front-line CSR’s; hiding behind a script and avoiding escalation saying the supervisor isn’t available or having you wait for an excruciatingly longtime hoping that you’ll give up.

Now, it gets even better!

Maui Jim’s ability to systematically follow through is remarkable. They remembered their promise and personalized accommodation two years after purchasing the glasses. While they have a “My Maui” sunglass configurator on their site, I needed to try on glasses to find a contoured fit.  

Through their strong partnerships with opticians and pop up stores, I not only found what I needed, but learned that I could also get bifocals made. A big win, not needing “cheaters” on hand to read a chart or instrument.

Honestly, I was dreading placing the order and trying to redeem this two-year-old promise. Girding myself for a “difficult” conversation, and keeping the stream of interactions, I dialed the phone. A delightful representative answered and immediately gave me confidence that she knew what she was doing and was going to be able to help me. Remarkably, all of my information and our agreement were put into my customer profile. Now that was EASY! No explaining, no recreating the wheel and no escalation. 

WOW! Mahalo Maui Jim! Keep up the awesome CX and please teach others.

In my next post, I will juxtapose awful CX and highlight how they could learn from Maui Jim’s outstanding customer experience.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

Aileen Cahill is a Fortune 100 C-suite client advisor; selling and delivering consulting insights while building robust relationships and driving business results. She is a classically trained CPG brand marketer who blends “Big Data” analytics and customer insights with business strategy to drive strategic growth from the “outside in.” Unlocking revenue growth through customer focus, data analytics and process reengineering, she is a digital marketing pioneer who leverages analytics and design thinking to create new products and curate engaging customer experiences.



compare-25-top-customer-data-platforms

Learn about benefits of using a customer data platform and find out which one is right for your company.

  • More
Enterprise Customer Data Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide” examines the current market for enterprise customer data platforms (CDPs) and the considerations involved in implementing the software. This report answers the following questions:

  • What features do CDPs provide?
  • What trends are driving the adoption of CDPs?
  • Does my company need a CDP?

Also included in the report are profiles of 25 CDP vendors, pricing information, capabilities comparisons and recommended steps for evaluating and purchasing. Visit Digital Marketing Depot to get your copy.



About The Author

Digital Marketing Depot is a resource center for digital marketing strategies and tactics. We feature hosted white papers and E-Books, original research, and webcasts on digital marketing topics — from advertising to analytics, SEO and PPC campaign management tools to social media management software, e-commerce to e-mail marketing, and much more about internet marketing. Digital Marketing Depot is a division of Third Door Media, publisher of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and producer of the conference series Search Marketing Expo and MarTech. Visit us at http://digitalmarketingdepot.com.





adobe-adds-customer-journey-analytics,-designed-to-be-accessible-to-all-marketers

Adobe has released Customer Journey Analytics as part of its Adobe Analytics platform. The new analytics offering is powered by Adobe Experience Platform and is touted as an easy-to-use, interactive analytics interface that enables “anyone in an organization” to work with data, not just data scientists.

“From the start, the team developed the Customer Journey Analytics interface with cues taken from Photoshop,” writes Adobe Analytics Product Marketing Manager Nate Smith, “Both are rooted in the concept of layers…In Customer Journey Analytics, the layers are data sets.”

According to Smith, brands can pull together metrics around orders, conversions, visits and more across different channels using a drag-and-drop model. With Customer Journey Analytics, teams can bring in data sets from point-of-sale systems and call centers, for example, to gain product insights that are better aligned with how consumers interact.

Why we should care

Getting as comprehensive view of the customer journey across online and offline campaigns and channels as possible is a key challenge for marketers. With more avenues for customers to engage with companies than ever and data sets in far-flung systems, the amount of data to wrangle and make sense of is overwhelming. Adobe is attempting to make both the stitching together of disparate data and the analysis much more user-friendly for the average marketer.

Further, it aims to help marketers act by giving them recommendations derived from predictive modeling.

More on the news

  • The Customer Journey Analytics platform includes pre-built AI and ML models from the Adobe Experience Platform that offers predictive analytics attached to the customer journey and suggest recommendations on best next steps.
  • Adobe Analytics also released Cross-Device Analytics as part of the Journey IQ. The technology leverages private device graph and data from Adobe Experience Platform to analyze behavior from different devices and merge into a “single stream” of information.
  • In May, Adobe Experience Platform announced an integration with Qualtrics to help customers identify gaps in their consumer-facing digital experience.


About The Author

improve-customer-experience-with-scenario-analysis

Imagine this situation. Your company has asked you to investigate and recommend a new marketing technology. For the sake of conversation, let’s say a podcast hosting platform that will integrate with your website. You complete some initial research, talk with some colleagues, reach out to your LinkedIn network and identify a list of potential providers and some basic cost information. You make your recommendations and your leadership team gives you the green light to complete the due diligence and make a final recommendation. 

After the initial review, you narrow the list down to a select group you want to learn more about. You go to each provider’s website but there’s no real way to interact with your shortlist of providers. You send a few email messages to general mailboxes but the response is slow or not at all. There are no phone numbers on the sites or any chat options for the providers on your short list. Eventually, after more searching, you finally find some phone numbers. You call up the providers, but you cannot reach a person. In one case, there is voicemail and you leave a message. In the other, the message tells you the representative is away and will not be responding to voice mail for at least a week. You call back and are informed there’s no one else to talk with. 

In the age of the customer and the engagement economy, successful companies are customer-centric and proactive in how they address the customer experience. Today customer experience is a competitive differentiator for every company. A Gartner Customer Experience (CX) study declares: “Customer experience is the new marketing battlefront. More than two-thirds of marketers responding in the study indicated that their companies compete mostly on the basis of CX. And in two years’ time, 81% say they expect to be competing mostly or completely on the basis of CX.”  A study by VisionCritical claims that by 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product quality as the key brand differentiator. 

Think about the above situation: The prospective buyer is frustrated. The prospective provider has potentially lost a long-term customer. Most people once they select a platform and complete the integration are unlikely to switch. As a potential provider, had you employed scenario analysis you might have been able to anticipate these types of experiences and put processes in place to avoid them. 

Are you ready for customer experience to be your differentiator? If so, then one valuable step is to tap the power of scenario analysis. 

Scenarios describe a set of possible events. They are powerful tools for understanding potential business situations, such as customer experience, and then developing appropriate strategies for each of them. The value of scenario creation is that it allows you to consider a range of possible outcomes and drivers of change. This is extremely helpful for improving customer experience. If you can anticipate a potential customer experience problem, you can modify your business process before the problem occurs and costs you a customer.

Scenario analysis focuses on analyzing possible future events. The use of scenarios by companies is not new. Companies have been employing the concept of scenario analysis since the 1970s, and it is an essential capability for any company invested in and aspiring to achieve agility. 

The fundamental ingredient for scenario analysis – whether to anticipate, plan and improve customer experience or some other aspect of the organization – is developing the scenarios. Creating scenarios is both art and science. The science side of the process requires data and timing information. Scenarios to support real-time marketing and customer experience can be created based on the answers to the following types of questions. 

  • What data can change regarding customers, the market, and the competition? By how much?
  • What data are predictive of a key prospect or customer behavior?
  • What data are essential for effectively engaging with customers and prospects?
  • What data are required to support a consistent cross-channel customer experience?

Imagination is all you really need to use scenario analysis. The goal is to create as many different combinations of potential events as you can conceive. Then, by analyzing each potential scenario, you can assess its likeliness to occur and decide what, if any, proactive action is necessary. Join my upcoming session at MarTech East in Boston to learn more about the principles of and process for creating and analyzing your scenarios, with a focus on using this approach to make the customer experience one of your competitive differentiators. 

More about the MarTech Conference


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

VisionEdge Marketing, founded in 1999, and is recognized as one of the pioneers and authorities in the Marketing Performance Management (MPM) discipline. The company specializes in helping companies apply data, metrics and proven best-in-class practices to accelerate growth, create customer value and improve performance.
Laura and VisionEdge Marketing are all about making marketing an engine of growth for organizations. Martechexec selected Laura as one of the top 50 women in marketing technology. Laura is honored to be among the Top 20 Women in Business according to the Sales Lead Management Association. Engagio identified Laura among the top marketing operations leaders to know. Laura has served on the University of Texas McCombs School of Business Masters of Marketing Science Advisory Board.




re-thinking-customer-acquisition:-what-you-cannot-measure-sometimes-matters-most

We recently signed a major tech player as a client – a brand we were proud to add to our portfolio. As a marketer, I wondered what drove them to sign: was it our recent email marketing campaign? A new whitepaper? The 1:1 advertisement that made them take a demo?

It was none of the above. One of their employees saw us at a trade show six months ago and loved our presentation. It stuck with her half a year later when her colleagues were evaluating new webinar solutions. This is pretty typical human behavior: we have a thought, file it away and don’t revisit it until the topic is raised again.

But this is maddening to marketers, who expect things to unfold sequentially. We’ll contact a prospect, usher them through each stage of the funnel, nurturing at every turn, and they’ll become a customer. Then we can see what converted them – which marketing tactic we can “attribute” to the sale, so we can invest more in what’s working. The rise of data-driven marketing has made us want to attribute marketing tactics to sales. But that doesn’t account for what you can’t measure. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should pour all your resources into a few tactics.

Imagine going to a symphony. You’re enthralled with a trumpet solo and spend the rest of the evening listening specifically to the brass section. But would you leave the performance wanting to hear an orchestra of just horn instruments, without the strings, percussion, woodwinds and keyboards? I doubt it.

Marketers too often double down on one section of the orchestra, one segment of their marketing strategy. We forget that converting a prospect at your user conference disregards the long email nurture campaign that got them there in the first place. The article your PR agency secured drove people to your website, but it was the download of a customer case study that got you their contact information.

Fifty-six percent of marketers say attribution is important; another 33% say it’s nothing short of critical. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The problem is not that you shouldn’t look at attribution, but you shouldn’t have the mindset that you are in control as a marketer. The trend toward attribution creates a mindset that marketers simply need to develop a formula and they’ll reap the benefits.

I just don’t think our prospects are so simple that we can accurately credit one touchpoint for triggering a complex buying decision. We create these internal formulas for multi-touch attribution, claiming they’re nuanced. But these formulas tend to illustrate what we are prioritizing rather than what’s influencing our customers – marketers weigh these formulas according to what’s most important to us.

Marketers should use attribution reports to assess trends and relative impact, absolutely. But it’s a slippery slope to draw big conclusions from absolute numbers. For example, comparing the win rate of deals that include one type of touch versus another is reasonable. But concluding that one specific touch-type drove a certain amount of pipeline – solely on its own – is not. Some channels may see less conversion simply because there is more competition on that platform from your peers. Or the problem could be your execution rather than the channel itself. An attribution report can’t tell you why a tactic is underperforming, so that’s where marketers come in. It’s on us to be able to analyze and to optimize our efforts, place multiple bets on different channels, and trust that what we cannot measure will pay long-term dividends.

For my company, that meant taking some resources away from digital programs and putting them toward human-based evangelism. We launched a global event series, created dedicated customer workshops, live events and internal marketing programs aimed at key strategic accounts. These are bets we place trusting they will work out – even if it’s difficult to measure. We’ve hosted dinners so customers can network with their peers and learn new ways to leverage our solution. We’ve worked to “pay it forward” by doing testimonials and case studies for solutions we use in the marketing world. We try to cultivate true relationships with advocates and turn them into lifelong ambassadors.

Don’t get me wrong: I love data as much as the next marketer. But its seductive power is in making us think it can measure and control everything. It simply can’t. And if it did, why would we even need marketers? You could just automate the campaigns that work best for your company and get the results.

It’s not that attribution doesn’t add value. It’s that we marketers add a whole lot more. That conversation over dinner in which you truly connect with a customer and understand their distinct needs – the value of that can’t be entered into Salesforce. You can’t measure how quality customer service or personalized marketing content creates a brand ambassador who spreads the virtues of your solution to their peers through word of mouth.

Data can only measure the quantitative, but the qualitative marketing and real connection is so much more important than an open or click-thru rate. And the qualitative cannot be measured. So the next time you’re looking for a magical recipe or algorithm to measure your marketing efforts, just remember: the only formula for good marketing is that there is no formula.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.



About The Author

ON24, where he is responsible for the company’s global marketing, communication and brand strategy. He has over a decade of experience creating and marketing innovative products in the enterprise and SaaS software markets. Before joining ON24, Hyland was the CMO at Taulia, the SaaS market-leading financial supply chain company. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.