Digital Customer Engagement Post 3: Fostering Engagement

November 07, 2014 Jeff Small

Digital marketing technology options have multiplied exponentially over the past few years. Navigating the platforms is daunting, but knowing what to do with them can be even more harrowing. Jeff Small, One North’s Director of Technology Solutions, will give tips and techniques to build a solid digital marketing foundation to connect you with clients and prospects, enabling a seamless customer experience across channels.

Imagine you are shopping for a new toaster on your favorite e-commerce site. You visit the site’s home page and are presented with promotions for blenders. Interesting, but you really need a toaster. Though a new blender for margaritas sounds good, you need to stay focused. You browse around the site, check out some toasters, but keep getting promos for those blenders. Annoyed, you browse on, but continue to get pushed by more deals for blenders. Frustrated, you close your browser, vowing to look elsewhere.

Though professional services firms aren't selling blenders or toasters, they have traditionally had similar one-sided conversations, telling the visitor what they offer but not listening to what the visitor really wants.

In my last post on digital engagement, I talked about measuring that engagement, understanding what value users are getting from your content. Obviously, in my blender example, engagement would be low. Increasing engagement is a matter worth having a conversation. Your visitor, through various means, tells you what they are looking for. You listen and present information to them. They respond. You adjust.

Maturity Phase of Customer Experience Maturity ModelThere are the three primary tasks that make up the Convert phase of the maturity model I’ve been referencing throughout this series. Moving from the Attract phase of the Customer Experience Maturity Model to the Convert phase is a shift from just listening and watching to optimizing content and influencing visitors’ actions.

Let’s Get Personal
The first step in optimizing is to begin listening to your site visitors. They are already telling you – or, at least, trying to tell you – a lot through your site. At a basic level, they are providing technical information in their digital fingerprint. The digital fingerprint is data that provides individual characteristics of every site user. Information such as geolocation, device type and IP address are well known, but other information such as referring site, search keywords and even marketing campaign IDs can be used to glean information about the user.

The digital fingerprint leads to conditional personalization. Think of this as “if, then” personalization. For example, if a user is visiting from Germany, then show the site in German.

Another form of customization, predictive personalization, uses on-site behavior to target content to the user. Looking at things such as types of content viewed and site search history, we understand the user’s intent and can begin to anticipate what they may be interested in. I outlined this approach in a previous blog post on Legal IT Professionals. Predictive personalization is done in four steps:

  • Content is profiled and classified.
  • User profiles are developed for the site’s target audience.
  • A user’s activity on the site is monitored to match them to a user profile.
  • Using that user profile, content is targeted to the user.

Digital Goals
Personalization creates fertile ground for users to deepen their interaction with your firm.

I discussed goals a bit in my last post on engagement value. Goals are digital activities that customers take part in that help you achieve your strategic goals. Examples could be having a user register for an e-newsletter, sign up for an event or read a key piece of content. Each goal is measured with engagement value points with the goal of getting users to participate in high-value activities.

As users become more engaged, interacting with higher-value content, higher-value goals would encourage a site visitor to interact more deeply. This allows you to bubble up content that the user may not have otherwise found as well. For instance, a mergers and acquisition event one month from now may be listed on the site but lower in the listing page than other events. A user that has been viewing high-value mergers and acquisition content could be shown a link or promotion for this event, increasing the likelihood they will sign up.

Testing
While you are optimizing your site, not everything is going to work. That’s okay! You have a lot of options to test different approaches to make sure you get it right and are having the right conversation with your customers.

A/B testing is a way to test two different versions of a page to see which elicits the stated goal more often. Let’s use the M&A event registration goal. You might have two different site promotions with different wording and maybe unique calls-to-action for each. Using A/B testing, your digital marketing platform would randomly serve the ad to different users and track which one resulted in more clicks to the event page. Using that data, you would know which was more effective in communicating with your customers.

A/B testing

There are other ways to test as well, but the core point is that you have the ability try out a hypothesis to ensure that you are communicating in the most effective way with customers on your site. The input from this feeds right back into your personalization planning and goal setting, enabling richer digital conversations.

To read all the posts in the Digital Customer Engagement Series, click here.

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Jeff Small

At the time of publishing, Jeff Small was One North's Director of Technology Solutions.

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