Our marketing budgets are precious. It seems like most initiatives we marketers take are on expensive, scrutinized and sometimes, even tough to prove immediate ROI. But they are necessary to growing businesses, market share and brand awareness, and for most of us, our website, online e-commerce efforts sit at the heart of our marketing performance.
The truth is we could spend all day working on traffic acquisition strategies, spend thousands (even millions) of dollars on PPC, SEO and ad targeting, and launch the most advanced email marketing system fully integrated with our POS systems to drive people back to our website. Heck, some of us are still throwing a lot of budget and resources into direct mail and couponing. But, while all of these strategies may work, the puck does not stop there. Your marketing dollars must reach far beyond “more eyes on your website” and ensure conversion rates that turn those browsers into buyers, and turn your marketing dollars into revenue. And it starts with CXO.
Customer Experience Optimization (CXO) is about making every experience with your brand matter. (Yes, I definitely want to do that!) CXO is dynamic, adaptive and specific to each customer’s interaction with your brand, while optimizing for your business goals. (Right, sounds good to me). CXO is about using multivariate testing, personalization and multichannel marketing to gain real time feedback from customers on which content works, and which doesn’t to increase conversion rates; it's about allowing marketers to tailor website experiences on a personalized level to improve average order values and repeat buyers; and it's about filtering these insights into all marketing channels for maximum ROI and brand consistency. (OK, how do I get started?)
Online Testing + Internal Culture Shift
A/B and Multivariate have indeed become more mainstream, so it’s safe to assume that most companies have attempted some form of testing. But launching a test a month, or employing a testing program with a solution provider doesn’t mean you are nailing CXO 100%. The notion of internal cultural shift that centers around CXO is must. In other words, brands who have a testing program in place need to swear by it: testing any and all changes that happen on the site first, before making any permanent changes. By letting live visitors and customers tell marketers what they like through their clicks, conversions and purchases, the evolution of providing exception online customer experience can fully begin. 100% optimized, 100% of the time.
Level Up: Personalization
Thanks to mobile apps, site aggregators and even Google, all consumers can easily comparison shop and search. You may have even found yourself throwing more money to stay in the mix at search, PPC and affiliate marketing. But those strategies, while they may help in the short-term, they aren’t going to change the fact that consumers are more fickle than ever and cultivating loyalty is a real challenge. Fortunately, the personalization component of CXO means marketers can meet this challenge head-on.
Segmentation and product recommendations are great ways to get started with personalization, though technically there is no order to which you can start providing better customer experiences. With segmentation, you can create user profiles that allow you to segment visitors into basic groups, which will dictate visitors’ experience the moment they land on your site. Even the simplest categorizations allow for better customer engagement with content and offers that are more relevant.
Or you can apply meaningful product recommendations that help you sell, cross-sell and up-sell: “viewers who bought that, also bought this”, for example. You can even segment and apply multivariate testing directly to those recommendations. Or you can get even more sophisticated, with automated behavioral targeting, by modeling what is the next best content to show an individual in real time. (Wait, tell me more!)
The Holy Grail: Automated Behavioral Targeting
Real-time personalized marketing is now a reality. And if you want to achieve the CXO trinity, it’s a must-do. But, you will need the help of technology here, since it would take way more than the likes of Rain Man to come up with a set of rules that could effectively, and precisely, target your visitors with the right content.
Using sophisticated mathematical modeling, automated behavioral targeting empowers you to present highly personalized offers, products and experiences to each individual website visitor. This type of behavioral targeting takes into account everything you know about your customer, including existing customer data, such as current products owned or a propensity score, it uses all this complex data to identify the best offer for each customer, and then adjusts over time to dynamically optimize visitor experiences with content that yields the highest conversion rate.
In other words, you are spending your marketing dollars to get people to the site, and personalize it, then letting the technology take over to learn, adjust, segment, promote and improve the site experience over time. All this equals more conversions, more loyalty, more revenue, and more marketing ROI.