This week, I had the good fortune to attend Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum at the Marriott Marquis in New York. (For you Broadway fans out there, currently playing in the Marquis theater is ‘Evita’ with Ricky Martin.)
The theme of this event was “Outside In”, as reflected by the event’s Twitter hashtag, #outsidein. A theme which, frankly, upon casual examination left me confused. It requires additional context…and a colon. The full title is “Outside In: The Power of Putting Customers At The Center of Your Business”. Ah, there we go. That makes more sense.
Customers, as might be expected at a customer experience conference, were the star of the show. However, a close second was context. On Tuesday, analysts Stephen Powers and Ron Rogowski co-hosted a presentation entitled, “The Future of Personalization Is…Context!”
Ron Rogowski noted that personalization is “…about understanding what someone needs and presenting it to them in a non-creepy way.” In her presentation on “The Future of Mobile”, Julie Ask also noted, “The line between creepy and helpful is thin…”, so the jury may still be out on that one. However, the sentiment is clear – you want to know everything you need to know about your customers, but not necessarily let them know that.
That’s a cynical way of looking at personalization and contextual marketing, of course. The less cynical view is focusing on the recommendations that Rogowski offered, which include “right-sizing” content, making content geo-specific to a user’s location and immediate needs and, more than anything, being relevant and doing so in real-time.
At Webtrends we, obviously, talk a lot about real-time relevance. We think it’s the future, if not the present, of digital marketing and digital marketing optimization. Stephen Powers agrees.
Powers noted that analytics-based contextualization is “a really exciting area” and that he “could talk for an hour about it.” Both Powers and Rogowski noted that, overall, the key to personalization is to be subtle and not to over-contextualize (as anybody familiar with the famous case of Target and the pregnant teen knows). No matter the route to personalization, the vehicles are the same – and happen to be things that Webtrends does best – that’s analytics and constantly testing, targeting and optimizing your content.
I also sat in on Jonathan Browne‘s session “How Does Social Media Change Customer Experience?” The answer: as long as you’re engaged and helpful, it vastly improves it.
Again, context and relevance were key themes. Browne gave the example of Sephora, which integrated a customer community into its site, called Beautytalk, where customers can get useful tips and information about, well, you guessed it, how to be beautiful. And who wouldn’t want that? Of course everybody would want it, as long as the content is great and customers are receiving relevant, timely information.
At Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum, the themes that we at Webtrends are focusing on were repeatedly reinforced: relevance in real-time, successful personalization through analytics, testing, targeting & segmentation and, of course, on-going campaign optimization.
To find out how we do all of those things to help you fuel superior customer experiences, check out this video.