Serving personalized and optimized messages to customers across their journeys is no longer viewed by marketers as a luxury, but rather as a necessity. As a result, marketers are increasingly scoping personalization and optimization capabilities and service providers. In turn, these service providers are becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and the features offered within personalization and optimization suites are becoming more and more robust.
The expansion in capabilities has led many personalization and optimization service providers to offer their services at every “touchpoint” of the customer journey. What this essentially means is the following – monitor the customer’s interactions with the company, isolate these interactions and subject them to optimization manipulations.
What this approach is missing, of course, is the holistic view of the customer’s experience. While it may be tempting to view the customer as merely a source of revenue stream who must receive an ideal series of interactions, marketers would be prudent to remember that their customers are human. These human customers do not analyze their interactions individually and arrive at a satisfaction level as a result of aggregation of secluded interactions. Humans simply remember one thing – was their customer experience pleasant or not and did it meet their requirements?
Below are 3 tactics to employ which will grant marketers a holistic approach of their customers, thus enabling them to serve truly optimized customer experiences rather than manipulating individual interactions:
Rather than bombarding customers with personalized and optimized experiences, endlessly A/B/n testing and analyzing analytics reports, I posit that marketers should engage in a communication tactic rapidly disappearing from this world and which efficacy is beyond question – listening. Customers are not mysterious inaccessible creatures – they are human beings who have needs, hopes, dreams and expectations and are often more than happy to share these with the brands they consume. All marketers have to do in order to better understand their customers – is ask. Marketers should create feedback cycles, get on calls with customers, send out surveys – and truly listen to which part of their process requires improvement. By doing so, marketers can significantly improve customer experience as they will understand what parts of the experience are the most sensitive from the customers’ perspective, and which would render over-focusing on them useless and a waste of resources.
Marketers, as aforesaid, have understood that customers bestow upon them copious amounts of data, and turn to optimization solutions or DMPs (or companies which incorporate both features) to aggregate and execute this data. However, much of this data may be superfluous and distract marketers and cause them to focus on insignificant data while overlooking meaningful data which has the potential to provide actionable insights.
By intelligently collecting and storing meaningful data, marketers are able to better understand what really matters to their customers and how they view their journey, thus providing them with better opportunities to optimize experiences. For example, understanding a customer’s browsing journey can lead to a more complete understanding of what the customer cares about. Collecting this data rather than focusing on other less important data helps marketers zero in on the customer’s experience. Furthermore, understanding that a customer located in Paris is actually a customer whose previous location recordings were in New York may help marketers understand that said customer is on holiday and may be more interested in a souvenir, a tourist attraction, an art gallery visit or a piece of boutique clothing rather than gardening tools or real estate.
Bottom line is – data matters but meaningful data matters more . Marketers should focus on meaningful data to understand what their customer truly expects and works to improve their overall experience (see our very own Yaniv Navot’s insights on structuring the optimization process in Crafting a Successful 4-step Conversion Optimization Plan).
Marketers often get excited by the possibilities personalization offers. How cool would it be if I could offer truly personal recommended content? How awesome would it be to test different headline titles? It would undoubtedly be awesome and cool but if that’s what marketers are focusing on their customers may feel unvalued. Rather than incessantly optimizing – marketers should sit down with various members of their teams and come up with a holistic approach to customer experience. As aforesaid, customer experience is more than the sum of its parts. Marketers should strive to understand their customer experience needs, create a strategy for optimizing and personalizing experiences, test them out, launch and proceed to solicit constant feedback – and repeat.
Optimizing and personalizing touch points is a worthy exercise. However, as the saying goes, “the details of life have a tendency to interfere with the actual living of life”. By focusing on customers’ overall experience, marketers can provide an improved interaction with, and memory of, their brands.