- Why focus on understanding customer centric ecommerce
Ever wondered what personalization really means? Or the difference between omnichannel and cross-channel? At BD4, we’ve produced a guide to help marketing, ecommerce and sales professionals stay on top of the industry’s latest buzzwords, and help you focus on understanding customer centric ecommerce.
Our list is based on industry trends and popular conversation topics our customer service and sales teams encounter. So read on to brush up on the jargon to help you place the user at the center of your digital personalization efforts.
The User Experience is the overall experience someone has when using any of your digital touch points – how easy it is to navigate and find what they’re looking for; how happy they feel when using it and how easy they were able to achieve what they intended to when entering that digital touchpoint. User Experience differs from the User Journey; the latter is more about the mechanics of where an online visitor goes (for example, from home page to product description to FAQs).
Think of User Experience as a novel, complete with emotions, and a User Journey as a map, pointing a visitor from A to B. Your digital touch points should focus on experience optimization – after all, a happy customer is more likely to spend more. A satisfied customer who feels valued will pay up to 16% more for products and services, as well as drive longer term loyalty.
Top tip: Move your discussion on from user experience. To grow your business and be more effective in converting users into customers, you need to consider all users as if they already are customers – not just those who actually buy from you. Shifting the view of a user from that as simply a ‘Looker’ to one of a ‘Likely Customer’ will reframe the online experience and is likely to improve your conversion rate.
As mentioned above, your audience is not only customers, but anyone engaging with your digital touch points. By knowing more about who each individual is, you can boost engagement with a personalized experience, and guide them through their journey from looker to booker to customer. To create a smooth experience and constructive user journey, you need to be able to harness data to create holistic user profiles – and act on them in real-time!
A customer is someone who has purchased a product or service. Each business will define who is a current or a historic customer based on their own company policies – current customers may be people with a live purchase (pending delivery) or those who are within their return or refund policy. People like to feel valued, so think about how your marketing strategy acknowledges and rewards customers. Building brand loyalty with your audience – not only your customers – is a key strategy for many successful companies.
Top tip: Whether through a loyalty programme or value adds, building a relationship with your audience is key. Deloitte’s Tech Trends 2022 report found “cultivating strong relationships starts with building trust and providing helpful data experiences that provide value – and agency – to consumers.”
Profiling in customer centric ecommerce
Most people are familiar with the idea of profiling – even if just from watching too many Scandi crime dramas! In the digital world, building a User Profile enables companies to react in real-time to specific needs of each user. Information can be gathered directly from the user through a customer account, loyalty programme or other log-in, or garnered from their engagement with your digital sales channels.
To effectively match what you’re selling to each user, you also need to have a Product Profile for each of your services or goods. This should include hard facts – for example, baggage allowance for a Business Class airline ticket, or how many people fit in a holiday villa – as well as deeper business insights, such as families traveling during summer are more likely to purchase a hotel and car hire in a bundle than families traveling in winter.
Data can help you predict future outcomes by using Predictive Profiling. By combining information about the User and understanding your Products, AI can crunch the data and generate recommendations that predict what your user is looking for from your portfolio – and ideally action it in real-time.
Top tip: By using AI-driven profiling, your website will be able to intelligently match User Profiles and Product Profiles – which increases your conversion rate and boosts average spend. Find out more about how travel brands use AI to cross-sell online.
Channel strategy of customer centric ecommerce
Consider how you use digital channels. With seamless connection at their fingertips, the 21st century user wants immediacy, interesting content with relevance. Flicking between company websites, comparison and review sites, and social media, travelers visit up to 160 travel sites – and a total of 290 websites – across multiple devices in the 45 days before booking a trip.
Understanding your customer may seem tricky when you consider their activity as they research purchases. This is where you need to broaden the view on your user profiles beyond just activities on your website and take a Cross-channel or Omnichannel approach. At bd4travel, we build you a picture of each of your users through analyzing thousands of data points in real-time, and help you tie that data together with that from your alternative channels and domains. You can also connect these to your CRM for a holistic picture of your users’ actions on- and offline.
Cross-channel is an integrated approach, factoring in all touchpoints a user may experience – from paid, owned, earned and shared media, both on- and offline. It assumes a customer will encounter your brand across all channels. Omnichannel develops this even further, accounting for customers who are using different channels simultaneously (for example, they may be chatting to customer service on a live chat on their phone, whilst searching for holidays on their desktop).
Top tip: Consumers are well versed in shopping around, whether it’s for their groceries or a luxury holiday. Think beyond your own channels and take an Omnichannel approach when understanding User Journeys with your brand.
Consumers expect brands to speak to them, service their needs and fulfill their wants. This may seem quite daunting to some companies, but that’s where segmentation comes in – understanding who your users are can help you present distinct messages and products to specific audience groups.
People share some traits with others, but may not behave in exactly the same way as them. By grouping users into segments and cohorts, you gain a better understanding of user behavior.
A Segment is a grouping of users based on their general behavior or characteristics. For example, users who look for a family holiday on their desktop. A Cohort is more specific and dynamic as it is bound by common events and time periods – for example, users searching in February for a family holiday, with travel in August.
When analyzing data, cohorts are typically defined in relation to time or a customer stage in the sales funnel, whereas segments are more about user behavior or characteristics (such as geography, devices, browsers used). Cohort analysis helps you target your sales and marketing efforts – by using contextual targeting which speaks to your users’ situations, you are able to be more relevant in your communication with them. Still, this isn´t enabling you to perform a 1:1 interaction with your customers; to achieve 1:1 communication, you require automated experience personalization, based on real-time user profiles. as described above.
Top tip: According to a report, 71 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. Consider how your digital touchpoints engage with your users. Do you put all visitors into one box? Using technology which can process hundreds of data points and on-site actions can help you tailor interactions in real-time for more meaningful engagement. Being able to personalize 1:1 for each user at scale with AI-driven personalization based on real-time user profiling puts you into the Champions League of ecommerce.
One size really doesn’t fit all. People are different and addressing their uniqueness is key to boosting sales and building customer loyalty. Seventy-nine percent of consumers say they are more loyal based on the personalization tactics of a brand.
The goal of Personalization is to meet someone’s individual requirements. It’s sometimes referred to as Customisation. Personalisation can be done on a basic level (like using a consumer’s name on an email or in a phone call) or on a more sophisticated level (such as presenting different copy, images and products to an online shopper). For personalisation of your digital touchpoints to be effective, you need to use the data you hold about your users in a way that benefits them, making them feel valued.
Optimizing digital experiences by using 1st and 3rd party data sources was the focal point of the early 21st century. With changes to cookie laws coming into effect, 1st party data should be a priority for businesses. Despite the changes, 1:1 real-time personalisation is still possible: it requires speedy data analysis and machine learning to drive immediacy in digital touchpoints.
Top tip: The end of 3rd party cookies is coming but this doesn’t mean the end of effective targeted marketing. It’s an opportunity for a rebirth of customer-centricity within businesses, putting the customer’s interactions and behaviors at the very heart of business decisions.
So why is it important to understand customer centric ecommerce?
By placing the user at the heart of everything you do, you are able to provide them with what they are looking for. This is how you can turn a user into a customer.
Whether you are getting started in thinking about how technology can help your business or refreshing your digital touchpoints, there’s a lot to learn and consider.
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