by Rick Weithas, Steve Earl
Successful digital marketers know that it takes a lot more than luck to deliver results. Whether your goal is to encourage a product purchase, an ad click or a service subscription, it’s about understanding the customer’s need and responding instantly with an experience that’s relevant.
So, what if there was the ability for marketers to respond immediately to site visitors based upon richer digital intelligence? Is this the game changer that we’ve been waiting for? Can you imagine the impact to online conversions and customer engagement?
Of course, right-now relevance is simple to talk about and much harder to put into practice. But why is that?
A key reason is that there has been no easy way to know what customers are really interested in – in that moment. Marketers have needed to rely on historical data to make decisions around how to engage customers. In fact, data such as gender, geography and past purchases has been the foundation of digital marketing optimization for almost 20 years. This type of data, while rich with detail, comes at a price – it’s typically days old. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much, but to many digital marketers it can be an eternity.
For example, one Webtrends customer is a UK-based online clothing retailer who believes that “fashion is now.” This company wants to know what clothing is trending at any given moment and be able to present the hottest styles to its customers. However, they’re left to rely on data that’s days or weeks old – not data from right now – to track customer purchase preferences, identify trends in shopping behavior and understand which demographic segments provide the highest ROI.
Similarly, another Webtrends customer is a prominent online publisher who knows that news is immediate and readers are impatient. Using historical data to understand readers’ demographic segments and regional preferences can be useful overall, but it does little to meet the challenge of giving readers the most relevant content that will keep them on the site – which, in turn, improves ratings and helps drive advertising revenue.
The promise of today’s real-time analytics delivers visitor data that is hours old. While not truly “as it happens,” this is considered leading-edge by many industry experts and does provide valuable insight for marketers. And, yet, it’s still far from ideal.
Due to the technical limitations of capturing real-time data, this solution typically delivers a reduced amount of information. Want to know the granular details that historical data provides – such as gender, geographic information, behavioral data? Not in today’s real time.
It also isn’t immediate enough to allow marketers to respond to a customer during a “live” site visit. In other words, real-time analytics doesn’t allow marketers to interact with customers and provide the absolute most relevant content for them at just the moment they need it. Instead, marketers must still rely on remarketing or optimizing the customer’s return visit.
We know from speaking extensively with our customers that this type of immediacy, insight, interactivity and relevance is the ultimate goal – the ability to affect behavior while the customer is still on the site.
Looking at the rates for shopping cart abandonment, it’s no wonder online retailers see increasing in-cart conversions as the obvious, though challenging, place to increase sales. Depending on who you ask, online shopping cart abandonment rates are anywhere from 55% (Forrester, 2010) to 72% (Fireclick / DigitalRiver, 2012). Imagine being able to drive truly immediate and relevant content to customers “in-cart” to boost their conversions – and your bottom line – even 10%. Millions of dollars of conversions – and millions of happy customers – are potentially at stake.This would be much like having an in-store salesperson at the ready to assist customers – delivering just the right attention to close the sale, complete the sign-up or get them to click through. This as-it-happens intelligence would be a game-changer that enables a proactive approach to driving customer conversions.
Put into action, this would allow the “fashion is now” online retailer to offer a truly personalized experience, being able to change its featured products on-the-fly based on historical shopper interest and as-it-happens behaviors.
For the online media company, combining as-it-happens intelligence with historical behaviors enables the presentation of TRULY relevant content. Having this information increases the likelihood of customer engagement, which in turn leads to higher sales and advertising revenue. Now that’s relevance.
These few examples only scratch the surface of the business impact of this level of “as-it-happens” intelligence that enables marketers to take immediate action. It gains even more power when combined with “historical” and “real-time” intelligence giving, collectively, infinite depth and perspective.
If you think this is the beginning of a new trend, we do too. Webtrends is innovating, like we have for many years. Our innovations will dramatically change the speed, relevance and effectiveness of online marketing and completely redefine customer engagement and the digital customer experience in the years to come. This is going to be fun…