Digital Engagement is not just for big companies or tech-savvy marketers but businesses of all sizes that are increasingly reaping the benefits of well-planned and properly executed digital marketing campaigns, which for the most part are relatively easy to initiate.
What makes it more complicated though, is the increasing number of channels (web, email, social, mobile) used by customers and prospects, that are broken down into even smaller communities and sub-channels- e.g., the move from Facebook to smaller and more intimate communities like WhatsApp, Vine, WeChat, SnapChat and many others. In short, the job of the digital marketers is ever challenging, and sometimes the focus is directed too much towards the channels - which channel is trending now and how to make use of it - without any real objectives behind what we are doing and why.
While Digital Marketing can be complicated, it’s not so bad once you have the basics down, like defining the 3 common marketing objectives first:
- Convert leads into buying customers
- Increase the LTV of your customers
- Win-back inactive and lost customers
Then take a look at the customer lifecycle and its journey from a lead to a churning customer. The chart above explains the journey visually, and thus are the following three strategic objectives:
1. Convert leads to customers
Most of the budget we invest in digital is directed towards acquisition strategies - SEO, PPC, Facebook ads, banners, affiliation, and so on. The true objective is to take the leads we invest so much money in and convert them into buying customers.
We need to measure how much money we spend on each channel against the conversions we have. If we do not do that, then our acquisition strategy is merely a hobby. Assigning dollar amounts to each channel and looking into conversions is often called attribution,hence, what we want to do here is measure increase in conversions against our actions while assigning desirable targets, e.g. 20% of my leads are converted into buyers each month.
2. Increase LTV
Given the investment we’ve made in acquiring the customers, every sell we will have from now onwards will yield larger gross margins (the purchase cost doesn’t include the acquisition costs anymore). So, what we want to do here is look into the increase of the spent from our existing clients and make sure they are retained. Therefore, consider the increase in the average purchase from your clients and increase in their engagement metrics (more visits, increased time on site, review of products, etc).
The third and last objective is trying to pull back the customers who churned or are inactive toward the centre of the customer lifecycle, so that the pool of customers we have will churn in a slower pace (any way you twist and turn it, customers will always churn. The best you can do is to delay their churn).
I will not go into the tactics used, but looking at the strategy, you want to measure win-back ratios (churning customers versus churning customers who purchased again) and work towards improving the retention number.
It doesn’t really matter what type of business and industry you’re working in. The job of the digital marketer is sales and by sticking to these objectives and measuring against them we’re ensuring that our efforts are directed towards the bottom line. You can now look at different channels and campaigns, but make sure that everything you do is attributed to one of these goals.
Digital Engagement in a nutshell
Once you’ve defined your goals, you’re going to need a strategy; and for that you need to think like your customer.
There are four different questions that, if understood and answered correctly, will provide your customers with the ultimate brand experience (or customer journey):
- Who is the customer – and where are they along your customer life cycle?
- What content best fits the customer based on past behavior, purchasing patterns and browsing history?
- When should the customer be reached (this depends on their stage in the life cycle – see point 1)?
- How/Where to reach the customer – look at their preferred method of communication
I am talking here about contextualization which is next-gen consumer personalization. Forrester defined contextualization as “a tailored experience that meets the individual user’s needs by combining historical, behavioral, and profile data with real-time situational feedback”. Essentially, it’s the next step in customer experience targeting – going a step beyond normal personalization by adding customer data (who the customer is), historical data (what the customer did in the past) and situational data (what the customer is doing now).
Which brings me to “Digital Hugging,” - a simplified version of contextualization. Digital hugging is essentially the ability to surround the customer or prospect with love and affection across the main digital channels we have, while providing him with an experience relevant in the context and time most relevant.
For a portion of that much wanted love and affection from your current or future customers simply follow the recipe and cooking instructions:
- 1 recommendations engine
- 1 email system
- 1 plug-in from your web analytics to your Database
- 1 ad-exchange
- 1 database
- A lot of customers
- Website with traffic
- 1 plug-in for the purchase history of your clients
- Take the scripts of the recommendation engine and implement on your website.
- Allow the machine learning algorithm 2-4 weeks to learn your users behavior.
- While on medium heat, ensure the plug in from your web analytics/recommendation engine is connected to your customer ID on your database. It means that you will have the possibility to identify the web behavior and email behavior of your clients and prospects.
- Close the lead, and let it work its magic for 2-3 weeks.
- Take the plug in for the historical data, and link historical purchase data to the customer ID (be it an email address, first name/last name, customer #).
- Now your database contains: email behavior, web behavior, and also historical transactions (hint: you can add also social data if you use companies like Gigya for instance).
- While the gourmet dish is cooking, implement the recommendation engine widgets on your staging website, test them against other content you think can do better until the flavor of the algorithm is perfect. Recommended widgets: related (related content to the one your users are browsing on the product level – complements a set of products to the product they view. E.G – related to camera are: memory, cleaning instruments, and a bag), personal (locate it on your main page, so the user receive content relevant to him), also bought (people who bought this product will also buy that product), and cart (allow the user to add recommended products easily o the cart, and by this increasing the cart value).
- Let’s rock n’ roll. When everything works, move the widgets to your working website.
- Engage customers based on their situation: dropped carts? Send an email with recommended products to the one the user wanted to purchase based on his/hers purchase and web behavior. No response to email? Retarget customers with dynamic content recommendation (attention: not static banners, but recommended products based on historical purchase data and browsing history). Customers not visiting the website? Follow them with email recommendations and or retargeting and try to bring them back to the products they like.
10. Identify more situations based on channels, locations and behavior and use data, channels and content to engage your customers.
11. Measure your customer engagement and CLTV. You’re looking for an increase in the metrics.
We hope it helps to simplify the concept “Digital Engagement, Digital Marketing and Contextualization”. It sounds complicated but it’s a lot easier in practice, especially if you know your business and have a basic understanding of your customers. And don’t forget you’re not going at it alone – there are lots of different technologies available in the market and these are becoming more and more accessible to SMB’s to assist or help you get started.