Tag Archives: Cross Channel Marketing

Have Consumers Bought Into Bots? A Look At The Current State Of Chatbots

Remember when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously proclaimed back in early 2016 that “bots are the new apps”? Well, it looks like that prediction is finally starting to come true. In mid-2016, there were approximately 11,000 Facebook Messenger bots. A year later, there were approximately 100,000 bots. If that’s not exponential growth, then what is?

The Problem of Too Many Bots

There’s just one problem, however, and it has to do with discoverability. How, exactly, are you supposed to find and use those 100,000 bots? For example, did you know that Starbucks has a Facebook Messenger bot to make the coffee-buying experience even more enjoyable? Oh, you did? Well, then, did you know that upscale fashion brand Burberry has a bot? Or that Sephora has a bot for makeup tutorials? Or that there’s even something called the “Insomnobot”? (Forget counting sheep to get to sleep at night, use the Insomnobot instead!)

Cross-Platform Integration for Bots is Still a Mess

Another problem involves cross-platform integration. This is a common problem in the tech world, and it’s no different in the bot world. For example, a bot created for the Facebook Messenger platform won’t work on the Kik platform. And now all the major tech companies – such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung are trying to create their own industry standard for bots. That means even more integration nightmares, and probably a lot of long nights for mobile developers. Imagine being told that a bot has to work for 3, 4, or 5 different platforms? This comes at a time when simply launching an app that works for both iOS and Android can seem like a chore at times!

But it’s clear that all the big tech giants are coming up with innovative new ideas for bots. Amazon has even gone so far as to launch Lex (a variant of Alexa, as you might have guessed by the name), an AI-powered bot. Samsung has Viv, a Siri clone. And Google is working on something called Chatbase (when it comes to social, we never really know what Google is doing, but you can guess that Chatbase will be built on top of its search platform).

Are Chatbots a Trend … or a Fad?

Not surprisingly, VC investors have been dipping into the space, looking for the first great chatbot company. Things might get a little frothy, though. Investing in a chatbot company sounds a lot like some other hot VC trends in past years, like investing in social gaming companies that make cute little games for your phone.

Ultimately, the question that brands have to ask themselves is, “If we build it, will they come?” In other words, if you sink time and money into creating and marketing a chatbot solution, are customers really going to notice or care?

For many people, these bots are the equivalent of the cool app that everyone downloads, uses once, and promptly ignores forever after. It may be cool that Starbucks can program a pumpkin spice latte chat bot, but are you really going to put up with that Starbucks bot if it keeps trying to pop up on your screen when you don’t want it to?

So it might be too early to proclaim the rise of the global chatbot economy, as some tech media publications have done. For now, that seems like a bit of hype and wishful thinking. However, big things could be coming over the next 24 months. That’s because, back in December 2016, 80 percent of marketers said they had plans to launch a chatbot by 2020. That sounds about right – it may be too early now, but with more cross-platform integration, bots could really catch on as something that you’d use every day in just two more years.

*This post originally appeared on socialmedia hq.

Why Inconsistent Messaging is Undermining Customer Experience

This article is part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Silo Busting is Essential to Delivering Personalized Experiences.

Delivering exceptional customer experiences has quickly become table stakes for marketers. Too often, though, these experiences are undermined by inconsistent messaging and opportunities go begging.

Repeated or irrelevant messages breed consumer intolerance and annoyance, which they are not afraid to shout about to the hilltops.

Inconsistent messaging can also be a lost opportunity. For instance, when a customer expects to be informed, but there is silence. Such as when a customer signs up to a new program and reasonably expects to receive a welcome email. When they receive nothing, that can create confusion and concern — which can be just as damaging as a sending a poor message.

In markets like China, where social and ecommerce platforms are dominated by a few large players, the risk and reward of consistent messaging increases, particularly for B2C companies.

For example, WeChat and Alibaba both have an incredible reach. And, given their prominence, consumers often use both platforms. So, any inconsistent message on WeChat can quickly undermine strong messaging on Alibaba, and vice-versa.

Compounding this problem, marketers sometimes focus too intently on WeChat and Alibaba and neglect their owned channels of email, SMS, and website. The messaging in all channels must be relevant and consistent.

Why It’s Happening

This isn’t rocket science, but it still trips up many marketers. The reason? The ubiquitous problems that arise from disconnected data systems and data access – marketers and systems in silos. Marketers simply do not have a single view of the customer, much less an accurate idea of what messaging has already been delivered.

That problem snowballs when channels are managed by different teams — such as a media agency for acquisition and remarketing, another agency for social marketing, while a company’s own marketing team manages email and mobile channels.

When this happens, even a central marketing plan can’t connect the data and creative for individual customer experiences.

Many organizations still lack the skills and tools necessary to unearth customer insights from first-party data. Those insights are needed to improve customer experience and deliver consistent, relevant messages through all channels automatically.

How to Fix It

A great place to start is to build consistency on the areas over which you have control and where you are comfortable.

For example, implementing automation and template programs for email and mobile channels will improve consistency in message cadence and content. At Oracle, we recommend leveraging existing data and using dynamic content to personalize your messages while maintaining a consistent message.

Next, build a data strategy to inform segmentation and start to weave that in other channels. It’s likely that your first major roadblock will be addressing how customer data is managed and accessed. Therefore, when getting data architecture in order, the focus should be on creating a core customer view in a secure, transparent and privacy-compliant way. All other data — such as sales, product, and policies — can then be attached to the core customer data, creating the fabled 360 degree view of the customer.

It is no small feat to upgrade data architecture and automate marketing. However, the benefits that accrue will quickly justify the undertaking.

Want to learn more? Get the Cross-Channel Orchestration Fundamentals Guide to learn how you can give consumers the personalized, relevant, and consistent experiences they want.  

4 Ways Chatbots Can Increase Engagement and Improve the Customer Experience

Most likely you have already interacted with an online chatbot or automated phone system for getting product information or resolving a support issue. The majority of these systems use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to understand your questions and predict what you are looking for to provide you with accurate and useful information in a user-friendly way.

Busy consumers are now becoming more comfortable using these automated systems as the systems are becoming smarter, friendlier, and faster. So how could a marketing platform use chatbots to get consumers more engaged with relevant and personalized marketing messages? We believe these four opportunities are quite attractive to consider.

Start Chatbot Conversations at the Right Time

Consumers are very familiar with initiating online chats from a web page. But what if a consumer wanted to initiate a chat conversation directly from an email, SMS, or a push message? It’s possible.

In the message, include a personalized link that passes information about the message context and the consumer to a chatbot running in a messaging application, like Facebook Messenger. Once the consumer clicks the link, the chatbot can start a relevant conversation.

For example, a consumer may ask the chatbot about the shipping cost for a sale item that she saw in an email message. Based on her preferences, the chatbot would send an email, SMS, or push message with shipping cost options. This provides a fast and efficient way for getting information that leads to greater customer experience.

Initiate or Influence an Orchestrated Marketing Program

Multi-stage marketing programs are a great way of delivering relevant, timely messages throughout a consumer’s journey (e.g., purchasing a car or refinancing a loan). Interactions with a chatbot can initiate or influence these programs.

For example, when a consumer expresses interest in a fixed rate mortgage in a conversation with a chatbot, she can be entered into an orchestration program that first sends an email with an online mortgage application form followed by a series of other personalized messages based on her subsequent actions. Similarly, if the consumer is already in a journey and has reached a specific stage (e.g., waiting for income verification), she can start another conversation with a chatbot that can influence her subsequent paths in the orchestrated program.

Deliver Relevant Promotional Messages

While a consumer is conversing with a chatbot, there is an opportunity to directly or indirectly present promotional information that is relevant to the conversation. For example, the chatbot could recommend an add-on product or service (e.g., extended warranty), or a relevant advertisement could be displayed on the messaging application.

Learn From Your Chatbot Conversations

A chatbot platform can analyze various consumer conversations to determine specific behavior, intent, and sentiment for that consumer. For example, the chatbot may learn that the consumer is interested in a fixed 30-year mortgage from various lenders but is concerned about high closing costs. This information, along with other interactions that the consumer may have had with various messages or conversations about different real estate properties, could determine certain profile (e.g., income level, interest in type of house) and intent (e.g., how soon ready to borrow), and sentiment (e.g., favored lenders). This additional information could improve targeting and personalization of the subsequent marketing messages and chatbot conversations.

Marketing technologies are constantly changing – improving the way you communicate with consumers. AI-powered bots will transform every facet of every industry – including marketing – and dramatically improve the customer experience. Want to learn more? Listen to this recent podcast, AI Can Be Harnessed To Change World of Marketing, and visit Oracle Intelligent Bot Solution.

Experience, Not Conversion, is the Key to the Switching Economy

In a world increasingly defined by instant-gratification, the demand for positive and direct shopping experiences has risen exponentially. Today’s always-on customers are drawn to the most convenient products and services available. As a result, we are witnessing higher customer switching rates, with consumers focusing more on convenience than on branding, reputation, or even on price.  

In this switching economy – where information and services are always just a click away –  we tend to reach for what suits our needs in the shortest amount of time. This shift in decision making has made it harder than ever for businesses to build loyalty among their customers and to guarantee repeat purchases. According to recent research, only 1 in 5 consumers now consider it a hassle to switch between brands, while a third would rather shop for better deals than stay loyal to a single organization. 

What's Changed? 

The consumer mindset for one. And the switching tools available to customers have also changed. Customers now have the ability to research extensively before they purchase, with access to reviews and price comparison sites often meaning that consumers don’t even make it to a your website before being captured by a competitor. 

This poses a serious concern for those brands that have devoted their time – and marketing budgets – to building great customer experiences across their websites. 

Clearly this is not to say that on-site experiences aren’t important, but rather that they are only one part of the wider customer journey. In an environment as complex and fast moving as the switching economy, you must look to take a more omnichannel approach to experience, examining how your websites, mobile apps, customer service teams, external reviews and in-store experiences are all shaping the customers’ perceptions of your brand. 

What Still Needs to Change?

Only by getting to know your customers across all of these different channels can you future-proof your brand in the switching economy. To achieve this, you must establish a new set of metrics that go beyond website conversion. The days of conversion optimization being viewed as the secret sauce for competitive differentiation are over; now brands must recognize that high conversion rates are not necessarily synonymous with a great customer experience – or lifetime loyalty. 

Today, the real measure of success does not come from conversion, but from building a true understanding of your customers – across every touchpoint in the omnichannel journey. Through the rise of experience analytics, you finally have the tools and technologies needed to understand customers in this way, and to tailor all aspects of your brand to maximize convenience, encourage positive mindsets and pre-empt when your customers are planning to switch to a different brand. 

It is only through this additional layer of insight that businesses and brands will rebuild the notion of customer loyalty, and ultimately, overcome the challenges of the switching economy. 

Want to learn more about simplifying and improving the customer experience? Read Customer Experience Simplified: Deliver The Experience Your Customers Want to discover how to provide customer experiences that are managed as carefully as the product, the price, and the promotion of the marketing mix.

Customer Experience Simplified

Whatever Happened to Copyright Laws in Social Media?

In the analog era, it was so much easier to apply and enforce copyright law. You could tell if someone else was copying your work, and you could have immediate remedy (i.e. a lawsuit). That’s because, in the analog era, the platforms for content creation were limited to only the biggest media companies and the biggest publishers.

But think about the digital era – there is so much content being created out there from literally millions of social media accounts that it’s almost impossible to know if someone is copying your work. And, here’s the really important point – the sharing and re-mixing mentality of social media means that it has become socially acceptable to use someone else’s work any way that you want.

Twitter and Copyright Laws

Think about Twitter, for example. If someone you follow on Twitter posts a really funny comment or a hilarious new meme, you have several options. You could re-tweet the comment without any unique commentary of your own, but still have the content appear under your own Twitter handle. That’s perfectly OK and even encouraged. It’s also fully acceptable under “Fair Use” guidelines designed to enforce copyright because you are not causing economic harm to the original person (if anything, you’re helping them, by bringing them more followers).

But what if you decide to use that content posted on Twitter for your own personal use? Think about what happened in 2010, when an independent photographer in Haiti captured some amazing photos of the Haiti earthquake disaster and immediately posted them to Twitter, with the expectation that these photos would only be used to encourage people to donate to the earthquake relief effort.

However, something very interesting happened here – the world-renowned news agency AFP (Agence France Press) came across the photo on Twitter, downloaded it, and then distributed it worldwide under its own name. AFP claimed that it was protected by the Twitter terms of service, but the unlucky photographer was not so happy about this. He promptly filed a lawsuit against AFP, alleging copyright violation. (And for good reason!)

Instagram and Copyright Laws

Or how about Instagram? It’s all too common on this social network for people to appropriate the work of others as their own. Who’s really going to know if your beautifully photographed cup of coffee in the morning was your own work or someone else’s? Here, too, there is definitely a grey area in terms of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Most people instinctively know that, at the very least, they need to credit the original photographer.

But some people have apparently not gotten the message. Take the example of the artist Richard Prince, who hunted around for great photos on Instagram, downloaded them, and then turned them into amazing pieces of gallery-quality art in 2014. He then displayed them at a New York art gallery and sold them at a price point of $100,000 each.

His defense? Prince claimed that he was protected by “Fair Use” guidelines. Yes, he completely, 100% copied the photo itself – but he changed the frame and he also added his own clever Instagram-style comments and captions to accompany the photo. Thereby, he claimed that he had substantially transformed the nature of the original work enough so that he was protected by “Fair Use.”

Common Sense and Copyright

But let’s face facts here – it’s completely unacceptable to rip off someone else’s Instagram photo and sell it for $100,000. That’s even more egregious than AFP ripping off the earthquake photo. At least AFP could claim that it was doing so in the name of news, not to make a quick buck!

Right now, it’s only these major examples of copyright enforcement that are being enforced by the courts. But, everyday, there are probably millions of examples of small-scale copyright violations on social media – and there’s absolutely no way to stop them unless you have a legal team at your disposal, ready to send out a cease and desist letter any time someone posts content that they really shouldn’t.

*This article originally appeared on Social Media HQ.

Plug Social Media into Your Modern Marketing Machine

Silo Busting is Essential to Delivering Personalized Experiences

This article part of our series on customer experience where we focus on topics relating to connecting data, intelligence and experiences. Further reading: Segmentation Must Be Connected to the Data and Technology Stack.

Digital technologies have dramatically improved the experiences of consumers, making it much easier for them to find what they want and to be provided with the service levels they expect. Their product and channel choices are greatly improved, which allows them to act at their own convenience.

Yet, rather than this satisfying the contemporary consumer, the opposite has happened. Customers’ expectations have accelerated, fueled by the very improvements in customer experience that digital technologies provide.

Is it any wonder then that so many companies are failing to deliver the seamless, excellent experiences customers demand as their basic expectation?

Data Silos Breed Chaos

The culprits, in many instances, are the brands themselves and their unwillingness or inability to break down organizational and technological silos within their own companies.

Data silos occur because businesses grow and change over time without a plan on how to manage their data and because separate teams inside or outside of a business don’t always work in a consistent way.

In a report called Culture for a Digital Age, authored by Julie Goran, Ramesh Srinivasan, and Laura LaBerge, McKinsey & Company identified functional and departmental silos as one of the most crucial digital culture deficiencies companies face.

“Each obstacle is a long-standing difficulty that has become more costly in the digital age,” wrote the authors. “The narrow, parochial mentality of workers who hesitate to share information or collaborate across functions and departments can be corrosive to organizational culture.”

It is just as damaging and corrosive to the relationships brands have with customers.

No wonder analysts like Gartner say the majority of companies are diverting money into data programs this year.

Oracle digital CX evangelist Mark de Groot says, “In our research, Next Generation Customer Experience: The Death of the Digital Divide, we found that a significant number of customers aren't impressed with the digital experiences brands offer.”

The authors of the report, which surveyed 7000 people in seven countries, were blunt in their conclusions, “The cost of failing – being slow, unresponsive, unavailable or incapable of adaptation – is brutal. Customers today have higher expectations. And when disappointed or frustrated, they leave. (In the case of the millennials, they don’t even bother to say goodbye.)”

The only way to overcome the problem of fragmented experiences is to take control of data.

Cross-Channel Challenges

Marketers understand that one of the biggest problems they face with cross-channel marketing is understanding customer interactions across those channels.

But often they lack access to cross-channel analytics making it hard for them to improve performance. They also find it difficult to track KPIs across channels.

Ultimately, though, until silos are tamed, it is almost impossible to build a usable unified view of the customer’s complete relationship with the brand.

Take the healthcare sector as an example.

Gartner Research Director Mike Jones said that one of the most common objectives of the healthcare sector is delivering a birth-to-death digital health record for patients.

While that may sound simple, the reality involves very serious complexity. “Bringing information from many different healthcare systems [that have] different structures, different data formats, different approaches to sharing and governance is extremely problematic to deliver. But without that the rest of the objectives almost become unachievable.”

In more than half the programs Jones studied, organizations were focused on four objectives:

  1. Patient ownership of data
  2. Big data and analytics platforms
  3. Open architectures and open standards for interoperability
  4. Developing new citizen services, which could allow online access to records

Each of these objectives can only be satisfied once organizations have their data stories aligned.

The smart application of technology can unify data silos for the benefit of all teams and partners. Oracle’s strategy is to acquire best-of-breed technology and then use our significant development experience to integrate them.

The win for our customers: rolling upgrades that add features, fix issues and speed tasks up. Then for their customers: seamless personalized experiences that build trust and confidence in the brand.

Two-thirds of Consumers Use More Than One Channel When Shopping

How 1:1 Email Experiences Help Retail Marketers Drive Results

By Kristen Dunleavy, senior content marketing manager at Movable Ink

Email has long been the workhorse of digital marketing. It is the most natural channel to deliver on the promise of personalized digital experiences. Email allows for a direct and intimate 1:1 relationship between a brand and its customer.

In fact, 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement, according to eConsultancy — and a whopping 90% of marketers feel like they’re already doing effective personalization.

So why is it that only 40% of consumers feel like they’ve experienced any personalization?

Achieving next-level personalization is a challenge for most marketers, who have precious little time and resources to spare. Implementing a personalized campaign without the right solutions could take months to get out the door.

Retail marketers in particular face a unique set of challenges. With increased competition (the Amazon effect, anyone?) and the fact that shopping has become an omnichannel experience, the stakes are higher than ever. Retail marketers need to create the personalized experiences their customers crave while avoiding putting a strain on their resources.

Developing a long-term, repeatable strategy is the first step toward achieving these goals. Creating 1:1 experiences in email helps retail marketers do the following:

Drive performance. Help customers make complex purchasing decisions, which often involve complementary products from partners. Emails need to teach customers how and when to use a product to keep them engaged and clicking throughout the customer lifecycle.

Enhance productivity. Quickly react to fast-changing customer demand, which requires email marketers to coordinate email with website content, using live pricing, inventory, and purchasing trends. Emails that show the wrong price or promote out-of-stock items don’t just lose revenue, they hurt the customer experience.

Elevate experiences. Showcase the authentic customer experience found in Instagram photos and Twitter posts of customers and fans. Emails that don’t incorporate curated user generated content (UGC) fail to capitalize on the growing power of social influencers.

So what kinds of personalization tactics work best for retail marketers? Here are just some of the ways that retail marketers are using email to see those incredible results.

Personalized Loyalty Email Campaigns

Loyalty email campaigns are key for long-term customer engagement. Here are a few ways retail marketers can create more personalized experiences in their emails.

• Showcase real-time spend, points, and other program content that is personalized up to the millisecond and changes every time an email is reopened.

• Eliminate confusion from outdated point values from different sources, or stale hard-coded data that can lead to costly customer service inquiries and program attrition.

• Add on-brand data visualization of points accrued and their redemption values mimicking the exact design of your web and mobile experiences.

• Accelerate points burn with 1:1 redemption recommendations that customers qualify for at the moment of open.

1:1 Email Promotions

With email personalization, retail marketers can target the right customers with the right promotions. Here are a few ways to make that happen.

• Drive customers to in-store locations with local maps, geotargeting, weather personalization, and other contextual elements based on their location at the moment of open.

• Target the right customer at open time with customer preference data and website behaviors, such as browsing history and cart activity.

• Display best-selling and recommended products to drive customers to act fast.

Creative Variations With Contextual Elements

For retail marketers with a number of store locations and customers spread throughout the country (or even the world), it’s important to target the right people with the right content. Here’s how using creative variations can help.

• Automatically generate content variations, including language and location-based variations to best serve international customers.

• Create personalized, time-targeted promotions with a single email send to keep customers engaged over time.

• Develop campaigns with a number of variations that are consistently on-brand and render perfectly on any device.


1:1 email experiences help retail marketers create real connections with their customers, keep them engaged over time, and drive powerful results. Oracle Marketing Cloud and Movable Ink work together to help retail marketers create these experiences every day. To learn more about how Oracle Marketing Cloud and Movable Ink partner with leading retail brands, download our ebook: Creating Compelling Retail Experiences with Movable Ink + Oracle Marketing Cloud.

Want more?

Read The Personalization Playbook to learn how you can show customers that your brand understands their wants and needs on any single channel or across multiple channels.

The Personalization Playbook


Kristen Dunleavy is the head of the content marketing program at Movable Ink, the leading provider of intelligent content for email marketing. When she isn't writing, you can find her training for her next physical challenge or sampling new cuisines (but not at the same time).

Why putting the business focus on experience pays off

Despite numerous articles and opinion pieces promoting the need for brands to adopt customer-centric commerce, the business realities and commercial pressures placed on retailers still mean that many are taking a purely conversion-centric approach.

As more brands make the shift into the digital space, it’s important to prevent tunnel vision when it comes to customer conversion and instead, find a balance between outcomes and customer experiences and help business to recognise that their conversion-centric approach is detrimental to their success.

According to recent research by Aberdeen Group, delivering a good digital experience can result in as much as a 15% uplift in customer retention rates, up to 7x improvement in annual company revenue and 6x improvement in customer satisfaction rates. Such stats have helped to convince marketers that – when used correctly - customer experience can be a powerful marketing tool, both helping to drive growth and bolster customer loyalty. In order to gain these benefits however, brands must first become more self-aware and more willing to embrace digital transformation.

One way to welcome this change and drive success in all areas is to think of experience as a transactional currency, from which both the brand and the customer can benefit. As competition blooms, brands need to understand that user experience is often a more powerful differentiator than price, as consumers gravitate to brands that adapt to their needs  . This loyalty, which in turn drives engagement, can be harnessed – using the right technology - for maximum benefit to both brands and customers.

This will become even more apparent once brands begin to harness their customers’ data, turning gained knowledge into tangible business outcomes. There is never a lack of data to garner; customer experience data is rich and almost limitless – often gaining even more value over long periods of time. Brands can use this information to consistently tweak and improve their path to purchase and move toward their goal of meeting a customer’s needs. By using this data to build personas of their customers, marketers can become experts in the customer groups that frequently interact with their brands.

Many of the brands embarking on the customer experience shift have already started to see positive outcomes. A company that has been successful in getting digital customer experience right, to transform its success, is the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The company set itself the challenging task of trying to redefine its brand in the market, transforming from being a financial services provider to being an ‘experience business’ which works within the financial sector. This change in focus, away from products and towards customer experiences, has helped RBS provide a higher quality of service to its customers, ultimately building trust and loyalty in the long run. In the first week of using this technology, RBS saw a significant increase in click-through rate, and the agreement in principle completion went up by 10%. RBS has since been able to improve over one million journeys.

Success like this is not limited to any particular sector and can be achieved by any brand that is willing to modernise and understand how customers purchase within the digital realm. All businesses – regardless of the products they sell or the services they deliver – ultimately strive to modernise their practices and identify areas that can be optimised and improved. Optimisation allows brands to overcome difficult business challenges that stem from a lack of interaction with customers. This holistic approach takes into account all the aspects of online behaviour that may have previously been missed. Focusing on experience allows brands to gain an edge over their competition, using sophisticated metrics and complex data sets to reach their targets and drive success for many years to come.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018:

Whether you are looking for better ways to manage the full lifecycle of your B2C customers or you want to nurture B2B clients from first impression to customer advocacy, you won’t want to miss what Modern Customer Experience 2018 (ModernCX) has to offer. Join other marketing professionals, industry influencers, product experts and Oracle executives to learn how you can use the entire marketing ecosystem to impact the customer experience. 

Register for the event hereLooking forward 

3 steps to defining customer experience

2017 was the year that brands truly embraced ‘experience’, with Customer Experience, User Experience and even Brand Experience all becoming common terms within both the marketing and tech industries.

With so many different forms of experience, it’s easy to wonder whether marketers and brands really know the difference between them? How can they, when so many of us still struggle to even define ‘experience’ itself?

Officially, experience is defined as “the interaction between a subject and a stimulus that is influenced by personal interpretation.” The key part being ‘personal interpretation’ – the idea that experience is, by nature, a fluid and largely subjective notion, so it is no surprise that marketers struggle to define and perfect their customer experiences. What is considered an exceptional experience by one customer might be seen as average, or even poor, service by another. This is the problem with brands attempting to rigidly define their customer experiences, as the quality of the experience often relies on the mood of the customer, and not just the quality of a particular product or service.

While it seems impossible to predict exactly what a customers’ daily demands are, the development of Experience Analytics tools has made it increasingly possible to predict customer moods, improve their journeys, and ensure that the maximum number of people leave the shopping experience with a positive view that resonates with them.

With that in mind, here are three ways brands can begin making an impact and defining their experiences online:

Step #1: Build personas

Brands must start to accept that most of the interactions customers have with them are largely subjective. Both a customer’s fixed personality traits and changing moods can drastically influence the way that they perceive their experiences with a brand.

This means they must do their best to understand what a typical customer looks like, how they shop, and how they think. An understanding of the company’s target audience, converted into a detailed persona, will help tailor experiences to appeal to the majority of a brands’ shoppers. With geographic, demographic and even psychographic data, details as specific as optimum email distribution time, website navigations, and in-store display messages can be fine-tuned to maximise the experience of the end-customer.

Step #2: Think about online customer behaviour

Once an experience strategy has been devised based on the target audience, the next challenge lies in predicting specific shopping moods. Personalisation has previously offered a relatively useful response to fluid behaviours, but a more human approach is still required if brands are to take their experiences to the next level. By collecting real-time data, both on-site and in-store, brands can start to transition away from more traditional ecommerce metrics and begin to understand the more subtle aspects of customers’ online behaviour. These aspects can include everything from subtle cues such as mouse movements right through to eye-tracking and ‘rage clicks’ (frustratedly clicking on content over and over). These ‘Experience Analytics’ metrics are perfect for developing a much more in-depth and human understanding of customers.

Step #3: Develop guidelines

Brands have long-since offered guidelines outlining things like company colour schemes, fonts and logo usage rights. Now however, many customer experience experts have argued that brands must look to develop a new playbook, specifically for defining their brand experiences.

Insights stemming from customer behaviour profiling on websites, and in apps, can be used to create detailed guidelines helping to explain the feelings and behaviours that consumers should walk away with whenever they’ve interacted with a brand. 

By adopting the techniques outlined above, marketers, retailers and brands can ensure that they are providing the best possible customer services and experiences. By understanding the subjective nature of the experiences, they seek to develop, marketers can improve customer relationships, build loyalty, increase sales, and ultimately provide a better experience for both customers and brands.

Register for Modern Customer Experience 2018:

Join other marketing professionals, industry influencers, product experts and Oracle executives to learn how you can use the entire marketing ecosystem to impact customer experience. Ideal customers are still out there—learn how to identify and nurture them in Chicago.

Register for the event hereLooking forward to seeing you in Chicago!

For Cross Channel Marketing Success, Don’t Sit On Data; Act On It

I know, I know you have all the data you could ever need, blah, blah blah. And I know you know that ours is a cross channel world where a whole lot of us use multiple channels as we make our way to the checkout line - be it a real checkout line or of the digital/online variety. 

But for kicks and giggles let's look at how top performing brands handle use data. The chart below shows how top performing businesses use numerous activities to put insights − generated through reporting and analysis of data − into action. For example, they are 38% more likely to utilize the uni ed view of customer data to deliver omni-channel messages.

The finding comes directly from a recently released report from Aberdeen Group, Relationship One and Oracle Marketing Cloud which revealed the business value marketers derive by mastering orchestration of omni-channel marketing campaigns.

Optimize Accordingly 

Enabled with a unified view of customer insights, marketers can then optimize future campaigns accordingly. Specifically, this refers to tailoring the timing and content of each campaign based on insights captured through previous interactions. For example, if a high-tech buyer is more likely to respond to in-depth written content when making a purchase decision, knowing this insight would help the marketer use relevant content. The chart shows that Best-in-Class  firms are 81% more likely to have this capability in place, compared to others.

There is a lot of competition to capture customer attention and wallet share. Marketers who succeed do so by establishing a unique relationship with clients. One of the ways Best-in-Class firms do this is by using customer data to deliver informative, proactive communications (interactions that are initiated by the company, as opposed to the customer).

While facilitating customer spend and retaining clientele are top-of-mind for marketers, it’s important to remember that customer loyalty is closely related to brands becoming a trusted advisor to their buyers.

For example, a retail buyer being notified that an online order has been shipped is more likely to think of the retailer being engaged in addressing their needs, as opposed to another that’s not delivering such proactive notifications.

The Rest of the Story

Data is only part of cross channel marketing success. Download Digital Experience Management Through Marketing: Orchestrating Omni-Channel Conversations to learn other key parts of a successful cross channel marketing strategy.