Do You Really Know Your Customer?

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These days, an organization’s “digital storefront” is its primary touchpoint. But just because a business has a centralized omnichannel digital presence on all its websites or apps doesn’t mean it should be serving the same standard content to all of its visitors regardless of interests, demographics, language, location or device. While many businesses acknowledge the goal of a custom tailored digital experience, most struggle to understand their customers and serve content accordingly.

Relevant online content is business crucial
Online content, while central to top of funnel inbound marketing efforts, serves a much more expansive set of business goals which altogether comprise the “digital experience.” From serving as the first touch point for an unknown visitor, to nurturing leads through marketing automation, to supporting customer retention, customer service or community management – relevant, contextually-appropriate content plays a role in a diverse set of business processes and can support diverse business goals.

The customer experience should be invisible
I am a firm believer that some of the best customer experiences are the ones that the customer doesn’t realize they are having. Most of today’s digital content experiences are similar. When strategizing its online presence across multiple touchpoints, the last thing an online business wants is to “snap” the customer out of the experience.

Imagine the following: You’re browsing online content, exploring a blog. You subscribe to a newsletter. Maybe you even register for a webinar. You might be slightly annoyed, as you’re filling out similar information twice. But then, you go to download a white paper, and yet another registration form comes up and asks you for the same information. Then, abruptly, you start getting a barrage of heavily personalized emails focusing on the one thing you signed up for. It’s the big sales pitch. Snap.

The online experience needs to be seamless, consistent and, most importantly: appropriately match the visitor’s context. Too often, digital experiences fall short. So how do we fix this?

Personalized content is crucial…
Ultimately, it’s the right balance of personalization and relevant content that wins the customer experience. Content needs to be appropriate and personable. As Dr. Tim Walters, Senior Analyst with Digital Clarity Group said in his “2015 Prescriptions” post: “personalization isn’t really about the customer, it’s about you. Businesses should focus on being personable, by offering timely, relevant and discreet assistance.” Beyond improving brand relationships, personalization translates into real business value. As a research conducted by Hippo in 2014 found, targeted onsite content can lead to an 8% increase in revenue.

…but without feedback loop on performance, it’s not enough
Implementing personalization as a discipline will not effectively serve customers–or business goals– without the metrics and feedback to continuously optimize content strategy. Businesses need a feedback loop, validating–or questioning–their content strategy. It’s not enough for businesses to run tests, look back and create a best practice. Businesses need to continuously monitor the pulse of their content strategy, with a continuous process of improvement. For content to support business goals, personalization needs to be implemented correctly. Optimization based on Content Performance–measuring content effectiveness, identifying content gaps and trends– should guide content strategy. These insights should make driving ROI central to that content strategy.

Your software should break down silos
Creating personalized digital experiences requires agility, and constant innovation. Unfortunately, too many organizations get themselves stuck in predefined and hard to change marketing suites. Consumers have come to expect data-driven, optimized experiences that are personable and seamless across devices, as well as being relevant to a consumer’s location, interests, and preferences. For this, the customer experience needs software that permits nimble strategy, integrations with other systems, and a 360 degree overview of the customer experience. Interoperability across the marketing technology landscape is crucial, and needs open standards.

A holistic, consistent and relevant digital customer experience should be a shared goal of the modern business– the stakes are just too high to remain siloed. By providing insights and enabling agile response to those insights, the right software can serve as a strategic partner to make that digital experience a reality.

Tjeerd Brenninkmeijer
Tjeerd Brenninkmeijer is CMO and co-founder of Hippo. He looks after the company's strategic alliances and has extensive experience as an international speaker. Before Hippo, Tjeerd worked as a consultant for KPMG. He has a degree in Economics from the University of Amsterdam.

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