This sponsored post is produced by Michael Wilson, Senior Director of Product Strategy for Webtrends.
Most brands know that to increase conversion rates and build a base of loyal customers, they have to provide the best, most relevant online customer experience.
However, almost all brands struggle with determining the right mix of products and services to achieve that. In order to assess the tools needed to provide the right customer insight, brands must be acutely aware of where on the digital marketing maturity spectrum they lie.
The 5 stages of digital strategy maturity
Your company has a website, and you recognize the importance of understanding who goes to your site. Now you need to determine what it all means. Many brands understand this as being imperative to developing strategies but aren’t sure how to take that first step.
You need analytics to start identifying trends, patterns, and statistics in your data. Once you start to see who is visiting your site, where they are coming from, and what their behavior patterns are, you’ll start to see a big-picture snapshot of your consumer base.
Your company analyzes data to evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing programs. Keywords, referrers, and other in-session information provide you the feedback you need to segment audiences and adjust spend accordingly. At this point, you are identifying trends but are looking to more deeply understand what motivates the consumer behavior driving these trends.
Digital measurement is not simply a product-driven task. Brands must work with experts to help interpret the results so you can continue to refine and, ultimately, transform your measurement strategy.
Acquisition & retention strategies
Your company differentiates how to interact with visitors based on the goals of the marketing program. This moves beyond simply driving the right traffic to focusing on content development and its ability to drive purchasing decisions. You are measuring how variations of content affect visitor decisions and are using that information for future campaigns. At this stage, your focus is not only on conversion but on delivering experiences that will make your customers return in the future.
To understand what compels a consumer to act, optimization and testing are crucial. Whether it’s a slight change in language or a new visual, the only way to get to the heart of what drives behavior is to test.
At this stage, many brands choose to partner with a team of optimization experts. This outside expertise will help you develop long-term plans to improve performance. A successful plan blends both data and expertise to create a custom-tailored plan for your brand.
Cross-channel optimization and targeting
Your company engages consumers across multiple channels, including site, mobile, social, partners, and offline. Measurement allows you to track visitors as they move within and across digital channels and you combine this with offline data to complete the picture. You also maintain historical data about visitors so that you have context for the next time the visitor engages with your brand.
To date, simple strategies for measurement and optimization have worked to increase conversion on your site. However, at this level of maturity, you recognize that customers engage with your brand differently within each channel. They may develop opinions through social channels, learn about products and services via mobile channels or partner sites, and ultimately make purchase decisions on-site or offline.
Understanding the customer journey and improving each step in the path to purchase requires an ongoing program to identify where each customer is in the purchase process and to move them across channels when appropriate.
As important as technology is, expertise in this stage is paramount. Interpretations of measurement and optimization reveal the meaning underlying the results and allow you to fine-tune targeting. Simply relying on data without expert analysis yields short-term gains but lacks long-term value.
Real-time, automated content delivery
Your company successfully combines historical and in-session behavior to understand consumer contexts and uses data mining and statistics to move beyond analysis to prediction. Visitors show buying signals throughout their journey; automation recognizes changes in visitor behavior and adjusts in real-time to make sure they stay on the path to purchase. Your optimization strategies tell you how to engage and you trust predictive modeling to determine when to engage and with what content.
Your brand optimizes every channel, and clear pictures of your customers are emerging. The last step is determining what kind of action to take and how to do it. This might sound simple, but it is a complex process: You need to see what customers are doing in real-time — on an individual level — and understand the data and make a decision on how to engage based on current session and historical data.
You need to have the right technology in place to see the data in a digestible way and, more importantly, do something about it. This requires technology that not only combines the real-time data with historical information; it requires the ability to integrate with action systems such as email, display ad networks, SMS messaging, CRM, mobile marketing, search engine marketing, and marketing.
This also involves choosing the right partner. A real-time, automated program should be a collaborative process between your brand and the right provider.
Where do you go from here?
Brands, regardless of where they are on the maturity curve, should always be looking to deepen their digital marketing efforts. In order to move to the next stage, there must be a fundamental understanding of where your brand is on the curve to develop strategies that lay groundwork for advancement. Once this has been determined, companies can solicit the right product and services mix to help them realize their strategy and pave the way for advancement.
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