Intelligent Customer Engagement and the “Always Addressable” Customer


customer-engagement-data-girlThe marketing tech business wants you to believe that putting in the right software will solve all of your problems. Need to increase engagement? Want to break through in a new channel? Are you battling against identical-sounding messages? No problem! Just install the right software and it’s all done for you.

But here’s the truth: all the technology in the world doesn’t replace the importance of strategy. The technology just enables the strategy.

It’s not that the strategy alone will do the work, you still need the right technology to make it happen. The key to success is defining your strategy based on customer needs and while that’s easy to say, it’s much more difficult to do.

In a recent webinar on destinationCRM that I participated in along with Rusty Warner, principal analyst of Forrester Research, we discussed these issues with a focus on how to think differently about your marketing programs.

As Warner pointed out, technology, when it’s applied at scale, enables marketers to put their messages in context in real time. Before taking context into account marketers talked in traditional terms, using phrases like: segmentation & targeting, media schedules, messages & transactions and even GRPs and CPMs. Once they start thinking on context, that all shifts and marketers begin thinking more about the customer’s experience with the brand than just with executing programs.

It’s then that they build strategies around interactions, recognition & engagement, customer moments and minutes of engagement.

So what does it truly take to engage? According to research done by Forrester it boils down to five key points:

1. Personalization

You don’t need to be known to receive a personalized experience. If the same individual has multiple interactions with an entity, then they should receive an individualized experience, regardless of whether they are “known.”

2. History combined with insight

The data that leads to a personalized interaction isn’t limited to what’s in the corporate database. The day of the week, time of day, weather, news events, etc. all play a role.

3. Analytics to determine action

In each marketing interaction, what is the right call to action? To answer that question you need solid analytics.

4. Orchestration

A key issue for 46 percent of marketers surveyed by Forrester is coordinating across online and offline channels. This requires an orchestration platform that can deliver at the right touchpoint at the right time, thereby sparking a true dialogue.

5. Insights for ongoing interactions

Optimization is key for this point in the engagement cycle. You need to understand how the interaction contributes to the journey and put that in context so you can use this information to optimize the overall marketing strategy.

Putting all this into practice means having the ability to quickly understand the customer and provide them with the information they need when they need it. Take our client Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which manages vacation properties including places like the Grand Canyon and Vermont Bike Tours.

Their strategy is to understand their visitors and provide them with vacation experiences based on past experiences across all their brands. So if a customer goes to the Grand Canyon and then on a Vermont Bike Tour through California, they can use that information to help them plan their next vacation. It also means that customers planning a vacation will start receiving notifications leading up to their week of recreation providing tips and planning recommendations within the time of their trip, making it a more engaging and memorable brand experience.

This isn’t just across one channel, but it’s about recognizing an individual across every domain of data, whether that’s the physical, mobile, ecommerce, social or even IoT. It not only increases customer loyalty, but also helps visitors repeat at multiple properties or even extend vacation times.

The results from Xanterra alone are pretty amazing, with huge increases in terms of revenue per email sent. Individual brands within the Xanterra umbrella saw increases of more than 500%, delivering better results while reducing the number of times they contacted individual prospects. In addition, it’s resulted in increased resale opportunities across properties, and the results keep getting better.

The bottom line is that thinking just in terms of technology isn’t enough, it must go hand-in-hand with a complete strategy that takes data, puts it in context and results in an action. Only then can you truly engage your customers.

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