Article

Kresten Bergsøe
Kresten Bergsøe 19 June 2018

Personalizing the Customer Experience

It is critical for your organization to deliver high-performing, personalized encounters across the customer lifecycle. According to Gartner the most popular, frequently consulted digital channel for customers — across every stage of the purchase process — is the company website.

But the way we build websites has not changed. Most are still dumb – they treat all visitors the same. The customer experiences we deliver are still static and fragmented.

If you want to fundamentally increase the relevance of your customer experience – you need to adapt your site to the individual customer – one customer at a time.

The customer lifecycle framework

There are many ways you can start your journey toward a more relevant and better customer experience. We have worked with a number of different approaches, but always returned to building strategy and customer experiences on a customer lifecycle stage model. Your business may only have part of these stages or you may have additional stages - but here is the one we typically use as a starting point:

 

Audience

Definition

New

First time visitors to your site

Previous

Site visitors with multiple visits, but who has not registered or converted

Known

Site visitors with multiple visits, who have signed up and are identified

Trialist

Site visitors who have purchased once

Customers

Site visitors who have purchased multiple times

Reactivate

 

Site visitors who have purchased multiple times, but stopped

Select pages

For each audience/stage in the lifecycle you have to identify the pages you want to personalize. Each stage is likely to have different pages that attract the most views. A page may be optimal for one step in the lifecycle and simply not working for another stage.

Identify the top 5-10 pages that is consumed by the audience in each stage. Then look at 5-10 pages with the highest bounce rates in each stage. High bounce rate may a be natural part of the visit flow or it could be a page that unintentionally makes the audience abandon their visit.

When analyzing each lifecycle stage - also check out the average time spent on each page. High averages with low bounce rates suggest good content pages - often good subjects for further improvement by personalizing the content to the visitor.

Select elements

Each of the top pages contains multiple elements. Identify the dominant elements and look for elements that are typically in pane on the page load. Different parts of the page will have different volume of readers. Top pane always gets more reads than further down the page. However some elements like Call To Action buttons could be naturally positioned deeper in the page and could be natural targets for personalization too.

Build the experience grid

For each stage in the customer lifecycle list down the following: Objective, Core messages, Call to action (CTA) and Goal.

You can use a grid like the one below to outline your experiences.

  New Previous Known Trialist Customer Reengage
Objective            
Messages            
Content            
CTA            
Goal            


Build experiences in the customer lifecycle - addressing the core messages that should be delivered for each stage. A targeted customer experience may be as simple as exchanging the primary element on the main page based on the visitors lifecycle stage. It could also be a more complex experience covering multiple elements across multiple pages triggered by multiple conditions. However the most important thing is to get started - rather start out with a simple experience than building a huge complex one and wait months to implement it.

If you should choose to only work with a single target audience - we would recommend to focus on New visitors. For most organizations new visitors will account for the majority of site visits and even a small improvement can make a big change to your business performance.

Create or reuse

Before creating new personalized content, we suggest all clients to review their existing content and map it to one or more stages in the customer lifecycle funnel. Your site will likely have content for different stages mixed together across your pages. Simply by segmenting your content for each stage - you will dramatically improve the relevance of your visitor experience.

You likely also have old case stories, articles and other types of content that has worked great when you dig into your content stats. Now consider where in the customer life cycle each content piece makes the most sense and add it to the experience grid. This way you can design a progressive and more relevant storyline using your existing content.

Transform static content into clever content

Consider reusing existing content - but create variations of them targeting your Lifecycle Audiences. This is a simple exercise where you add or remove messages in existing content based on the visitors profile - we call it Clever content.

Clever content can be built using variations of existing messaging from existing content. Variations that address specific information from the reader. Answers to form questions or behavioral information like previous visits, goals, experiences, interests, purchases, PPC keywords, searches, stages in sales process etc are all part of the scope of parameters your content team can use when writing variations inside the clever content.

Why is that such a great idea?

For starters a single piece of clever content can replace a huge number of traditional static content pieces - resulting in fewer more focused paid campaigns to attract the target audience.

Clever content has a much stronger impact on the audience consuming it compared to static content - simply because it is aligning the messaging directly with the reader's profile. 88% said interactive content is somewhat or very effective at differentiating from competitors, versus just 55% for static content.

Clever content changes the focus of your marketing organization from volume to what questions to ask your target audience or what information to track. Mapping your target audience behavior, needs, value and barriers for conversion to serve the right combination of messages in the content.

Clever content can be consumed on multiple levels - as an example a landing page receiving all traffic from paid advertising could have a short abstract that requires no registration or download. This is a teaser for the real CTA (full article/download/registration).

Visitors who bounce will be added to a nurturing programme retargeting them with a flow of impressions that highlight different parts of the content in order to get the visitor back to full content consumption.

Leads for the sales funnel will also be significantly more qualified based on the self profiling done in the Content Marketing initiatives.

The stories in clever content can evolve in time. When the marketing organization develop new angles on the existing stories - previous readers can be notified with email or browser notifications - creating a continuously progressive evolving customer experience that pops the subject matter top of mind in the target audience.

Clever content can be delivered across most digital channels: web, email, mobile apps and may be the end of Content Marketing as we know it.

When you have utilized your best existing content - then you should consider filling out the gaps that may exist in your experience grid.

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