Marketers Strive For A Holistic View Of Buyers

customer relationship shutterstock 113068783It is clear that marketers can no longer treat all prospects alike, as sending out the same email to everyone no matter who they are or where they are in the buying cycle is not likely to yield stellar results. While the ultimate goal is to make a sale, it is becoming more important to develop a rapport with buyers and understand what drives their purchasing decisions. That was the message of several speakers at the recent Digital Marketing University event in Philadelphia held by Silverpop.

“You have to own the whole relationship with the customer,” said Ellen Valentine, Product Evangelist for Silverpop. “It seems like a bit of an oxymoron, but as we have more channels and more ways to communicate with the customer, the buyer expects a more personalized experience.”

To reach that goal, Valentine explained that there has to be a “holistic leverage” of email, analytics, web site and content, which requires involvement from the IT, product development, finance and support teams. Operational silos such as email, web site, data warehouse and content have to come together.

“The best actionable database will win the hearts and minds” of prospects and current customers, Valentine said. The best way to personalize the experience is to manage everything you know about each customer, but do it at scale.

Valentine said that while segmentation is an important part of the process, marketers need to instead focus on everyone as an individual. “The richer your master database is, the more powerful, personal and relevant you will be.” She used the example of a boating web site. The database captured information such as the type of boat and other boating-related products a customer owns, the boat shows they have visited, the age of their boat and even their favorite sports team. This helps to tailor the message based on actions, intent and interests.

There is an increasing need to associate web visitors with multiple touch points, including smartphones and tablets. “You need a database that goes beyond email,” Valentine noted. “And you need a way to associate all of a customer’s visits with a single identity, because we all start out as anonymous visitors to web sites.”

Another factor in being able to build customer relationships is the ability to adapt the web site to a specific user.

‘You can use data such as referring site, device type, IP address and cookie as a way to start personalizing the experience,” said Bob Egner, VP of Product Management for EPiServer, a provider of digital marketing and e-Commerce solutions. Customers can then be segmented by location, channel, content, history and forms. In addition, the customer data can be enriched by their social and CRM profile, he noted.

Egner outlined how Silverpop has leveraged the data in Salesforce to personalize the customer experience on its web site. By integrating the web and CRM, current users are presented with different than those who are at the start of the buying cycle. In addition, the content is tailored to their location and industry, among other factors.

“Great experiences are a differentiator,” Egner said. “Synchronizing systems gives you a clear view of visitors. Also, you have to think bigger than one channel because that is what your visitors do.”

Getting The Message Through

To ensure that marketing messages make it to the recipient’s inbox, marketers should play close attention to the positioning of their opt-in buttons for e-mail sign-ups. It is particularly important to have prominent op-in placement in the wake of changes to Gmail and increased popularity of add-ons. She noted that some marketers are even providing a button for users to click to move their messages to the “Priority” tab from the “Promotions” tab.  

“We found that 56% had the email opt-in at the bottom of their page and 7% go for the mid-page opt-in and 36% highlight opt-in at the top,” said Jodi Wearn, Segment Marketing Director for Silverpop. She shared some sample results from reworking opt-in placement: A 516% lift from putting it at the top of the home page and every page; a 100% lift from moving it to the top of the home page from the bottom; and a 50% lift moving to the top of the home page from the bottom.

When users do opt in, Wearn said it is important to provide them with options for managing their subscriptions. “Give them the chance to determine how often they want to receive information. Or maybe they want to take a break from your content, so a ‘snooze’ button could be an option so that you don’t lose them completely.”

Another strategy for optimizing email click-through rates is using automation to learn recipient behavior, Wearn said. “Algorithms can learn the times that each individual is likely to open their email so that you are at the top of their inbox.”