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This sponsored post is produced by Michael Wilson, Senior Director of Product Strategy at Webtrends.
Digital marketers have one goal in mind: boosting sales and revenue through their company’s online presence. This laser-focused goal creates the temptation to base campaigns on short-sighted information that doesn’t address their bigger picture goals. You should instead be focused on the long-term insights you can gather about your audiences.
Too many campaigns are built on the same assumptions and result in a generated conversion lift, which only survives the duration of that single campaign. By challenging overall assumptions, not merely content, marketers learn something from each campaign, which you can apply to the next. This results in a “cumulative lift” that builds and quickly outpaces short-sighted tactical gains.
This level of measurement and testing requires more than just technology – it involves a higher-level strategy that addresses all of the intricate data details that you collect. These details will be what help you stay in line with broader digital marketing initiatives and build a successful program.
Whether you want to design and execute your programs and campaigns internally or collaborate with an outside party, here are some things to consider prior to implementing a measurement and testing strategy:
Know your digital consumers
If consumers are searching for smartphones or putting items in a cart, you want to meet expectations every step of the way. Yet while the digital-purchase cycle is more sophisticated than ever, the level of complexity facing the consumer remains unchanged and any trace of difficulty creates friction that allows consumers go elsewhere. To combat this, it’s critical to use what you know to create the best, most relevant experience for every individual. Even without collecting personally identifiable information, you can understand what is meaningful for each person and use this knowledge to deliver personal treatments so consumers choose your brand above others. The key is to combine historical and in-session data so you understand what visitors have done in the past as well as what they are doing now.
Understand consumers throughout their journeys and across all channels
You can’t control all the ways consumers interact with your brand, but you can learn from them. Expand your perspective to understand not just the digital channels themselves but the data between all of those channels. For example, a repeat viewer of mortgage rates often returns to the same site to apply for a mortgage loan – a new type of customer journey for the same individual. You need to provide the experience each consumer wants at just the right moment in her journey. And you need to ensure your marketing investment supports your most valuable experiences.
There are often disconnects in the journey. For example, research is often conducted on a mobile device, while purchases are usually made on a website from a tablet or laptop. This means you need to be able to stitch together visitor sessions from apps or mobile sites with sessions on your website. To understand what’s working, you also need to know whether the sessions started from and email campaign, a purchased ad, or an organic search. This complexity requires technology that is designed to focus on visitor-level data and data collection, not merely combined analysis of general activity.
Test everything, everywhere
Set goals and implement a test plan to see how you can reduce incomplete forms or cart abandonment, and even upsell or cross-sell – without jeopardizing trust. Testing helps you improve the experience across every channel, so that even small steps become part of the big picture. This is the best way to drive up your KPIs and get maximum return for every dollar you invest in optimization programs.
Through A/B and multivariate testing, you can optimize your visitor experiences. However, to allow the kind of reach necessary to test all your digital assets, any solution you deploy should support testing and targeting via:
- REST APIs to allow programmatic optimization of mobile apps, games, etc.
- URLs to extend reach to ad networks, social media, affiliate sites, and other places where your content exists but you cannot tag or deploy code.
Take action when it matters the most
When consumers are on your site, they have a purpose – to check their accounts, research, compare, or purchase. Historical data can help give some indication of what a visitor might do again, but it only tells part of the story. The best indicator for a visitor’s current intent is data showing what that person is doing on your site right now. Use those insights to see what consumers search for, browse, and click on – without any gaps or blind spots – and you can provide a relevant experience while an individual is still engaged. The result: happier consumers, more completed applications and purchases, and greater ability to target offers for relevant products.
Solutions enabling in-session targeting should be able to deploy a combination of rules-based and algorithmic engagement. Algorithms do an excellent job of determining when to engage a visitor and with what content. However, merchandising rules are often required to help meet business objectives such as managing inventory, margin, and minimums in sales agreements.
Don’t box yourself in
Your business needs to have the flexibility to adapt and change. If you rely on a complex ecosystem of different technologies to improve your customer experience, make sure they’re all compatible and open. Otherwise, you might have to make compromises and choose subpar technologies in order to conform to closed systems.
Look for solutions that provide quality reporting but also the capability to integrate data directly via APIs or through extracts. This allows you to combine digital data with offline data – or third-party data within an enterprise data warehouse. You want to integrate any decision-making system with your chosen CRMs or DMPs to take action using other segmentation and personalization systems you might have in place. In other words, digital marketing solutions for measurement and optimization should provide additive value and not simply replace existing capabilities.
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