The user experience (UX) and customer journey put the needs of the customer above all other priorities. Delivering superior experiences in today’s customer-centric environment can create competitive advantages for companies. However, many marketers encounter problems delivering real-time, personalized experiences to customers across mobile apps, websites, retail stores, and other venues.
Example; Molly gets a coupon in the mail, addressed to “current resident”, for a 15 percent discount on online or an in-store purchase. On her next visit to the store, she carries the coupon and pays in cash for the blouse. Molly is a loyal customer at this store, and just last month she spent over $700 on clothing. However, as the coupon is not tagged to Molly, the cashier fails to recognize her as a valuable customer and doesn’t ask her about any of her previous purchases or any product preferences. Now, when Molly gets home and opens the retailer’s website to add a review, she is shown an ad for the same blouse she just bought from the store, based on her recent browsing history.
The following are some practical takeaways to help to start thinking about the needs of your customer first using data and content.
A survey from Adobe found the following result;
The very first step is to fully understand your customer’s journey and your UX. Get inside your customer’s mind and start thinking about what you can do to deliver a better experience to your customers. Data, content, journey maps, personas, user research, empathy maps- they all are useful tools for understanding your customers better.
The next step is to start defining your role via the lens of fulfilling your customer need.
Example; if your Email Marketing specialist, how does email marketing help the customers? It’s not quite that simple. You have to be prepared to use data to prove what really works and what doesn’t.
Collecting and leveraging data to fuel UX and the entire customer journey
When we asked the marketers about their experience of using data and content to improve their UX, not a single marketer complained about having too much data.
The reason for this is quite simple that when trying to solve a problem as improving UX and customer journey, marketers need as much data as they can possibly get in order to understand what’s happening during the customer journey. Data is also very helpful when trying to solve problems and measure whether or not the changes truly made a difference.
UX principles play an instrumental role in this process as well, but as one marketer put it “data informs you about how good really is your UX”.
Additionally, marketers noted that management needs to be on board in order to get data. And with the top-level support, teams tend to silo data and frustrate UX improvement initiatives.
Data collection can be as easy as following up with the attendees after key interactions with a short survey. Ask your customer to rate their experience! Avoid asking biased or leading questions- just get the data to finds useful actionable insights.
Data can also be collected using costly techniques like focus groups or usability testing. These tactics are usually implemented for big decisions, such as rolling out a major marketing campaign or a new brand identity campaign but should also be considered for more routine tasks like testing small improvements to a product or service.
There are many UX tactics that can be used to collect qualitative and quantitative data. If you have access to UX professionals, you can easily leverage their research across the entire organization to make data-driven decisions. And if you don’t have access to a UX professional, then it may be a good time to hire one.
When in confusion, turn to your webmaster tools in both Bing and Google. They will send you alerts if your website traffics decreases or increases and your analytics specialist will be able to attribute variations to particular activities.
How Content Fuels UX and the Entire customer Journey
Marketers spend a huge amount of time nurturing and acquiring potential buyers before they’re handed off to the sales team and finally to the customer success team. The lifecycle of a customer can usually be disjointed, but there are easy solutions to circumvent this with content.
Content is the fuel that drives your digital marketing engine- but if the content you are creating is not aligned to address specific questions, needs, pain points, and barriers of the buyers at every stage of their customer journey, you may be spinning your wheels and losing ROI from your content marketing.
Too many brands build and share the content which they think their customer want to read without investing the resources and time to actually understand the varying needs of their targeted audience, how these needs can quickly change throughout their relationship with your organization. Launching a customer journey-centric approach to your existing content strategy simply means engaging the right customers with the right content, at the right time- adding more qualified leads to your sales funnel, and ensuring that your loyal customer advocates come out the bottom.
Leveraging Data and Content to Provide Personalized UX
To fix some of these problems and deliver relevant, consistent, and highly personalized experiences to customers, marketers can consider an always-on experience management approach that includes the following steps:
Create a single view of the customer
Many marketers have a plethora of customer data, including transaction history, personal information, call center interactions, online activity, and other information. Usually, data stays in multiple systems and is not integrated. To deliver relevant, consistent, and personalized experiences to customers, marketers may benefit from deploying a technology platform that can easily integrate their customer data across touch points and channels, and provides a full view of every customer
interaction. This full view may include tweets about a brand, actions taken on a website, products returned and reasons why, chatbot conversations or white papers downloaded. Marketers can easily leverage their customer data to properly manage interactions with customers on a real-time, ongoing basis, drifting away from marketing campaigns and toward the experiences customers have with companies every day across multiple channels.
Define the end-to-end UX
First, marketers can map out every potential interaction customers may have with the company along their journey, starting from the initial awareness through post-purchase. This can be a valuable element of brand strategy, and also aligns with the idea that almost everything is branding. What do the marketers want customers to experience when they interact with their organization at every touch point- from social media platforms to the company’s website, to its call center and even the music that customers hear when they are on hold? All the interactions- across every touch point- create the overall customer experience. When considered thoughtfully and in a well-orchestrated manner, the entire customer journey can yield an engaging, consistent, and positive customer experience.
Use machine learning to create micro-segmentation
When marketers have consolidated their customer data, they can start to identify the variables that have the most impact on buying behavior. Some organizations may consider thousands of variables to make decisions about how to market to customers, including household income, age, preferred brands, and hobbies. And with the advances in cognitive computing, organizations can now leverage machine learning to decrease the total number of variables and implement micro-segmentation- giving the most relevant information to audience segments based on the factors that most affect their decision making.
In retail, three valuable variables may be how recently customers last made a purchase, how often they purchase, and how much they spend on average. Using micro-segmentation, marketers can now deliver more personalized experiences based on where customers are in their customer journey, what matters most to them, and which customers are most loyal and valuable.
Deliver real-time experiences
Technologies can help enable content delivery and also improve human interactions with customers. In some scenarios, the interaction may be automated, like in Molly’s case, when she access the retailer’s website to add a review, a live chatbot may pop-up, asking Molly to rate her in-store experience. But in other scenarios, marketers can use data and analytics to help improve employee engagement with customers. If Molly’s coupon is sent to her mobile, the clerk could easily scan it, view her transaction history, and maybe receive a prompt suggesting she asks Molly about her previous purchases. Marketers may also consider implementing a UX value model where they identify the most valuable customers and determine how to maximize that value through personalized, dynamic treatment.
Example, the store may offer Molly a small bottle of her perfume at the point of sale.
Monitor and optimize
To continually improve UX, companies can measure and track their performance through unsolicited feedback like social media posts or solicited customer feedback like surveys. While the CMOs may want to build UX dashboards that show the value created for the company and for the customers. Marketers can use this data to optimize their marketing campaigns and messages and also determine whether they are delivering on their brand promise. The feedback from employees can also be valuable in helping companies gauge how well they deliver effective UX. The employees may be able to give feedback on how data can help them interact with customers, and also what can be improved.
How to deliver better UX throughout the entire customer journey
The customers now expect more from companies at every stage of the customer journey. And the need to create personalized and unique customer journeys is increasingly becoming more important.
By the end of 2020, customer experience is projected to take priority over cost and the product or service as the key differentiator between brands: 86% of buyers will spend more for customer experience, according to a recent Walker research study.
While the customer experience has become more valuable, it has also become one of the top challenges facing marketers. No longer is it enough to effectively implement strategies that are based on basic analytics and a gut check about your customer’s needs and pain points.
With the growing demand for seamless customer experience, marketers are looking at AI like natural language processing and topological data analysis combined with machine learning to guide them in developing a more effective content strategy- the one that is based on more informed insights about their customers.
1. Deliver actionable insights based on customer data
To create more effective content strategies that help you better engage with your customers, you need to have better insights. Leveraging AI provides marketers with the ability to pull in more sources of customer data that provide your company with actionable insights to fuel content strategy.
Some marketer may even think that the analytic tool set they use now is giving this information. However, these tools have their own limitations and are unable to provide a comprehensive analysis of what customers are responding to, whether negatively or positively. Additionally, the majority of the analytic tools now are not able to provide you with actionable insight on how to create a marketing strategy that is designed to enhance engagement at different stages of the customer’s journey.
AI can give you more precise, data-driven customer insights to help create a more effective marketing strategy.
2. Create highly personalized content for the buyer’s journey
Actionable insights result in a higher ability to write content that will boost customer engagement and also encourage conversions at different stages of the customer’s journey.
Leveraging content intelligence platforms can inform you about the types of content channels that are moving your customers and prospects to conversion, at different stages. With this information, you can focus your efforts on creating more of that type of content for each of your audience segments.
Additionally, AI can give actionable insights about what you are missing as part of that formula, whether it’s a combination of tutorials, videos, e-books, social media posts, webinars, or other content.
And by having this knowledge you can easily remove wasted efforts on content that was created based on your gut instincts. It can help you set the right themes for every stage of the customer’s journey.
3. Maximize reach through the right channels at the right times
Trying to figure out where and when to share, place, and promote your content can be another challenging area you face as a marketer. Placements and timing can create the difference between a stagnant campaign and a successful one.
Content marketing through the lens of AI can check the performance of your content based on the channels that you are using currently and the timing of our delivery. This information will help you be more confident that you are reaching your audience at the right time on the right channels.
To stand out clearly in today’s competitive market; companies can leverage data and content to deliver personalized, engaging experiences to customers throughout their entire customer journey. Doing so may help companies acquire new customers, retain existing customers, increase revenue, build loyalty with existing customers, and boost profitability.