Smart marketing in the era of agile commerce

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(Editor’s note: David Brussin is the founder and CEO of Monetate. He submitted this story to VentureBeat.)

Today’s consumers possess more digital devices than ever, which feed them more data than ever and, in turn, fuel more informed and nuanced purchasing decisions. As a result, your marketing efforts need to extend to include all of the points your company interacts with current and potential customers. And those efforts must be executed with sufficient speed to keep pace with the connected consumer.

Welcome to what Forrester Research has dubbed “the era of agile commerce.”

In this new era, consumers connect with brands through a growing number of touchpoints, but there is still a heavy reliance on the website to close the deal. This means the website must deliver a compelling experience and become the agile engine of persuasion.

Ironically, one of the best models for agility and persuasion is found offline, in the world of traditional retailing. Merchandisers at brick-and-mortar chains continually experiment with displays and layouts, offers and messaging, in order to find what works best at each store, then share their findings among stores. This is a continuous process of iterative testing which many websites have yet to match.

Before they can match that real-world agility, website marketers and merchandisers need to create systems and processes that enable quick and efficient action. With that in mind, here are four ways companies can inject agility into their eCommerce operations:

Think beyond multichannel – Many consumers are engaging with brands at multiple touchpoints that extend beyond traditional channels. It’s up to the company’s marketing department to make sure that purchase intent is identified early, wherever it’s expressed, then nurture it through to the point of conversion, regardless of the user’s point of entry.

You must find a way to deliver a brand experience that is consistent across mobile applications, social media, location-based- and email marketing, paid search, display advertising, and (if you have them) call centers, brick-and-mortar stores, and direct mail catalogs. When visitors get a site experience that’s consistent with what brought them there, the payoff is lower bounce rates and higher conversion rates.

Act on your analytics – As website testing and conversion rate optimization guru Bryan Eisenberg likes to say, “You can’t make money in web analytics just by looking at reports.”

You have to act on your analytics. Agile commerce means nurturing a culture of testing where people are free to think up new ideas, test them with very little risk, and iterate those tests to find the optimum outcome. By creating an environment where analytics are both easy to understand and instantly actionable, organizations will be able to use evidence-based results to guide every marketing solution.

Make agility and speed a corporate imperative – In order to win in the new era of agile commerce, organizations must overcome the IT bottleneck that comes with making eCommerce changes. It’s essential to be able to inject customized content into customer interactions seamlessly, throughout the sales cycle.

To check if you’re on the right path, count how many tests you’re running on your website each month. If it’s not well into double digits, you probably haven’t struck the right balance between Marketing and IT. Remember, without an aggressive testing schedule, many of the resources you expend on driving traffic to the site may be wasted.

Create a multifaceted/cross-functional team structure – You need to optimize more than your technology. The right people and processes must deliver the same level of continuity, engagement, and relevance across all touchpoints.

No longer can a few members of the organization dictate the impact of digital marketing. Through a cross-pollination of expertise you can leverage the new technologies to create an army of margin makers at all levels of the organization, a business culture where all employees are empowered to influence revenue based on the ability to implement great ideas quickly, with measurable and actionable results.

David Brussin is Founder and CEO of Monetate, the leading provider of testing, targeting, and content optimization solutions for websites.