1knowConsumers are very well versed in online shopping and make use of digital tools and technologies before buying products or services. A good piece of advice for vendors is therefore to look at the shopping world from a customer perspective to manage providing a contextually relevant web experience.

Dynamic personalized content is required and has to be communicated via all channels, since consumers are increasingly searching online from all kind of devices before they buy and search for recommendations - especially on social media, like Facebook or YouTube forums and blogs, where a plethora of opinions, comments, reviews and videos is posted. Once equipped with reviews, the prospective buyers then visit the vendor’s website and kick-start their Customer Journey.

For marketers, the Customer Journey starts when prospective customers notice the brand consciously for the first time, which means the term encompasses all measurable touchpoints of a potential customer from the first perception of a brand, through the purchase of a product or service, to the entire spectrum of after sales services and customer loyalty.

Keep in mind that tweets, comments, posts and likes on social media platforms, that provide information on the opinions, desires and needs of potential customers, are as important as recording the click behavior of visitors on the website of a shop owner. But only through analysis and preparation of these data, the prerequisite for a personalized approach of the potential customers is given. No supplier of products or services can rely on old customer loyalties when selling online, and even regular customers are on a perpetual journey, where they can constantly choose between an array of brands and products and buy from competitors.

Change the perspective

Vendors, who want to be successful in this highly complex environment, must constantly adapt and change their strategy. It is no longer about making offers as attractive as possible and waiting for someone to buy, rather vendors must reverse the perspective and see the world from the customer's point of view. The basic prerequisite for this is to be aware of potential and actual customers, and know where they are getting informed about products and services.

Moreover, the importance of anonymous, unknown customers can not be emphasized enough, since the vast majority of interactions on the web come from anonymous users, who must be considered without fail. The continuous evaluation and preparation of the data from the different touchpoints provides the basis. The aim is to better understand the preferences of customers and to analyze their behavior to derive from it concrete situational and personalized recommendations.

Collecting interaction data - of known and unknown customers

First, it is important to get consolidated knowledge about the unknown and well-known customers. The good news is, that tracking today is far more than counting clicks, so it can be achieved.

The goal is being able to predict what the users are doing next, before they are doing it - even for the unknown or anonymous customers. Predictive and prescriptive analytics provide a good solution by analyzing the navigation behavior of users in the past and construe user profiles from this.

So far, however, the data required for this purpose, such as Click Through Rates (CTR), information from various CRM systems, as well as social media and website monitoring, are stored in isolated applications. To use this data, all must be merged into a central and reliable repository, from all available systems that contain customer data across all channels.

By using predictive analytics techniques, market experts can foresee with a high statistical probability what unknown and known customers will be doing next on their customer journey. Based on these forecasts, recommendations for action are developed to offer customers the appropriate and personalized content they appreciate.

Redefining methods and procedures gradually

Online shops should continuously measure the results of their methods and procedures to tap the full potential regarding the allocation of personalized content. It is not only through permanent adaptation and further development that it is possible to achieve high efficiency. Since the customers change their attitudes, opinions and behavior patterns quite frequently, the tools for analyzing the interactions must also be highly flexible.

Web content management and analytics solutions provide predictive analytics for a 360-degree approach to manage the Customer Journey. They use findings from the analysis of customer interactions and develop the next best suggestions for the visitors of the website based on machine learning. Thus, marketers can define online and offline conversion goals, review their target delivery, and adapt their strategies accordingly.

Obviously, today’s marketers need a holistic view of the entire lifecycle of the Customer Journey to locate an unknown or known customer, irrespective of customer data being scattered across many isolated applications, to ensure having a good start. Getting an overall view of the data is not only crucial for the development of their sales and marketing strategy but their current activities as well. Simply because it is giving them the opportunity to engage in the Customer Journey and allows to accompany the known and unknown customers on their way to purchase.

By Daniela La Marca