Mar 13

Data drives our shopping experience

Digital is gaining ground – we use it to enhance our buying experience both for online shopping and with traditional retail. And as the presentation below indicates: When sellers leverage more data from more digital touch points to create insights and act on these, the personalized shopping experience will finally become an achievable goal.

The channels that lead us from awareness at the top of the funnel (if that term is still allowed in these times of the loyalty loop), to the purchase and after sales satisfaction, is not an easy task to manage. Digital channels are increasing in numbers, as is the number of channels being used per purchase.

I may begin my customer journey on a search engine, triggered by a brand mention on one of my social networks. I could use my smartphone for the search, move to the tablet, laptop or smart TV to do a thorough product investigation, use the phone to call a shop nearby and hear if they stock the product, visit the shop to see, touch and evaluate the product, do a price comparison right there in the shop, go home, do an online chat with a competitor and purchase the product at a competitor right there, and go home to wait for the delivery. God knows how many of those interactions in different channels go to the same brand?

Digital channels are becoming more and more important when we buy – especially for our decision process. According to a Valtech white paper, almost 1 in 4 uses three different channels along the customer journey towards a purchase. That’s the reason we see the customer’s experience receiving so much attention from companies seeking to sell online: The experience must be consistent and measured for all channels and touch points – from the first search to after the sales. That’s also why “multi-channel” is rapidly being replaced by “omni-channel”: It’s not about a multitude of channels, but about creating a pervasive experience across these.

Holistic experience, not channels
Digital consumers expect an integrated and consistant experience across channels, but more often than not, they just don’t get that. Many companies prioritize to be present in the digital channels, but are more reluctant when it comes to investment in the digital customer experience.

The infamous ‘seamless’ integration is proving a challenge. It demands a fundamental shift in perspective – from internal product focus, to customer-centricity across all channels. An approach seeking to integrate processes such as merchandising, order fulfillment and inventory management at a category level, rather than for individual channels.

Customers’ loyalty is not directed towards any single channel, but depends on the experience they get across the channels. And a bad experience in one channel, infects the experience with the others. Your customers just see your brand – not all your marketing channels.

Data is raw oil
People say data is the new oil. And just like oil, data must also be refined. There is a flood of data from digital touch points – and the tendency is that more is coming, it will be more varied, and it’s all moving towards real time. It is big data, and big data can be big business, e.g. if leveraged to provide extraordinary, personal experiences.

Personalised content is a fundamental element in the digital strategy of many companies, yet according to a conversion rate optimization report by Econsultancy, only 1 in 4 is actually employing website personalisation!

The most effective (i.e. ROI creating) is to use explicit preferences from users (e.g. interests), transaction history and the social graph. 2 in 3 consumers (shoppers) are interested in personalised purchasing experiences, but they expect to remain in control (opt-in/opt-out), and they don’t want personalisation based on social data and mobile use, states a study by Cisco. Users prefer personalisation based on transaction-type data (recency, frequency, spend).

Segmented experience
In order to provide personalized content, the stream of data coming in from every touchpoint must be transformed into insights – and a good starting point is segmentation. The most used segmentation parameters are geography, demography, behavior, and transaction history (when?, how often?, how much?).


Segmentation is one of the most effective means to increase conversion rate, but more parameters give better results. And when segmentation is combined with life cycle mapping and content marketing, we’ll have a frame for providing the personal experience across channels that is the answer to the customers’ intent.

Feb 13

Do you (really) know your customers?

Market communication is typically done through traditional channels like print, tv, and websites. These channels are often referred to as Paid media (e.g. print, outdoor, tv) and Owned media (e.g. shops, publications, websites, apps). But with the increasing saturation and use of social media, the uncontrollable communication that goes on in these channels (blogs, Facebook, word-of-mouth) become more and more of a sanity check for businesses. That’s the reason they’re dubbed Earned media – here, you get what you deserve and you earn your reputation.

Customer experience
So, the most important marketing question is not what half of your marketing budget that’s wasted, but how all your marketing efforts influence the communication you can only earn? Or in other words: How good are you at fulfilling your customers’ needs? And are you sufficiently market- and customer oriented? Because the earned communication is the communication you deserve. It is rooted in those actual experiences we have with the brand’s paid and owned media. Just like our expectations to the brands we interact with is increasingly influenced by the earned communication.


That’s why it’s crucial to meet your customers’ expectations whenever they choose to interact with you through paid and owned channels. This requires investigations into what those customers actually want. Demand. Need. And when you consistently meet expectations, you can – and should – begin to work on how to exceed those expectations.

New marketing disciplines aiming to create strong and fulfilling customer experience, are surfacing. Customer Experience Management secures that the brand consistently provides extraordinary positive customer experiences – i.e. gives the customer experiences that differentiates in the market, secures that he receives a positive, holistic experience throughout all touch points – rationally as well as emotionally.

On the return side, the long term results of such dedicated work with customer experience are increased differentiation and organic growth. Growth is based on increased profitable customer behavior – typically through higher customer loyalty, increased sales, and an expanding customer base due to positive mentions (i.e. earned media!), reduced price sensitivity and transaction cost (cf. CEM Index 2012).

Not surprising, earned media are social media, and we see a lot of initiatives with social media amongst the dominating communication trends, e.g. social media as a driver for ecommerce, social customer service, social banking. Other trends also point to the fulfillment of the personal experience, e.g. by real-time personalisation (“personal shopper”), the mobile channel, location-based commerce, user-driven product development, and commerce-through-content (see this Economist article for an elaboration on this trend).

Knowledge about customers, their wants and needs, are key marketing insights. But these insights should not be limited to the yearly satisfaction survey or irregular customer interviews. Instead, they  should be driven by a structured data collection effort that can inform the marketing decisions.

Cross-data marketing
When consumers make a purchase decision today, it’s an informed decision based on often multiple interactions with the lucky company through various (digital) channels at different times. In a multi-channel world the aim should be consistent engagement with costumers, made possible by the regular collection and analysis of the increasing volume and types of data, available from more and more touch points.


Data is coming at us with more variety, more volume, and at higher speed.

Your customers don’t see different channels, they simply interact with your brand. And they have clear expectations of the experience of it, that allows them to buy what they want – where, when and how they want it!

A fragmented insight into the various marketing channels will be a barrier for creating the wanted customer experience. It will also make it impossible to measure the aggregated ROI. Data must be collected across channels and touch points, to feed into the foundation for making marketing decisions.

At Valtech, we call this Cross-Data Marketing, because it makes it possible to identify the very click that leads to conversion in a multi-channel digital marketing system.

Because it makes it possible to set goals for every touch point and benchmark the users on-site behavior against these. Because it makes it possible to investigate which channels contribute with new members and customers. Because it makes it possible to combine analysis of customer journeys with transaction history, and thus reach a deeper understanding of your customers’ journey through channels and touch points, and their actions through all steps that leads to a purchase.

Cross-data marketing provides the proverbial 360° customer view, establishes a foundation for data-driven decisions, and provides the means for individual real-time marketing messages across channels. Get your own copy of Valtech’s Cross-Data Marketing white paper to dig deeper.