Big Data and Your Website: Personalizing the Customer Experience

Data is the new natural resource. What steam and oil did during the industrial revolution data is doing for us now. Today, we are competing on a whole different scale and the company that is able to collect the most relevant data will win. IBM CEO, Ginny Rometty, was recently quoted as saying that “Data will be the death of the average.”

According to Forrester Research, Inc.’s Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer (June 6, 2011),

The winners of tomorrow will be organizations that adapt to their customers’ needs – organizations that are relevant across all the channels their customers use. Focusing on understanding, delighting, engaging, and serving customers will be the chief source of competitive advantage.

Gone are the days that a well-designed website solely wins the new client. Today it’s about how relevant your website is to answering a visitor’s questions while collecting as much data on them as possible. It’s about the dialog your website can deliver to an engaged prospect and then anticipating their needs so you are able to keep them engaged with your brand. Ultimately, you want to give specific visitors a personalized experience with your website so they are able to not only engage with your company and brand but convert into a paying client.

The Problem with Many Websites
Many websites provide static content which essentially shows the same content to everyone who visits the website. As a result, you spend time and money on various organic, paid or earned media that drive people to your website only to realize they are leaving and potentially never coming back. The reason is that the content doesn’t resonate with what they are looking for. You mislead them somewhere they don’t want to be. You have effectively lost this individual as they move onto another website.

The Solution: Personalization
The solution is to adjust your website experience by integrating personalized and dynamic content. Essentially, this is a strategy in which the website content is dynamic enough to recognize the visitor and present them with content they are most interested in obtaining. Take for instance a website of an accounting business. This accounting business offers many different types of professional accounting services to companies. But when a website visitor searches for “small business tax accountants” and arrives at their company website then the website will dynamically show content front and center that promotes their small business tax services. Another visitor may search on “company evaluations” and again arrive at this company site. But now, the content changes to a call-to-action to a downloadable whitepaper on the topic of company evaluations.

What is Personalization? With the right software and technology website personalization allows you to adjust your website content to profiles of your visitors thus achieving higher conversions and an improved customer experience.

But personalization utilizing keywords from search engines is just one example. When a visitor comes to your website, they bring a whole set of data that you are able to capture and utilize to your benefit. Your goal is to capture this individual with a clear and attractive call-to-action with the hopes of capturing more information about them and directing them down a path that gets them engaged with your company. As visitors continue to interact more and more with your website they will begin interacting with your other digital channels and the more engaged they are with your brand the more data points you have on them which ultimately allows you to provide relevant content they need.

I recently came across this fact from Aberdeen Research,

In a recent Aberdeen Group study, Best-in-Class companies were 3.8 times more likely to change content based upon visitor behavior. The result? They were superior to their peer companies by having a 148% return on marketing investments, 63% current growth in revenues, and 13% increase in year-over-year customer profitability.*

It seems obvious – give people what they are looking for and they will continue to be engaged.

Predictive Analysis for Your Website
No longer do we need to approach our web strategies with a “gut feel” but rather we are now able to use large amounts of data that allows us to perform predictive analysis which allows us to match an individual’s behaviors on your website with predefined patterns. Now, as the visitor interacts with your website you are able to profile them and ultimately present them with content they are most interested in.

You are now leading the online dialog with your visitor as they engage with your website. Essentially, you are guiding them to various calls-to-action that best help you convert that individual.

Consider this: In its Conversion Rate Optimization Report 2012, eConsultancy shared,

Companies spend nearly 100 times more money on acquiring website visitors than on converting visitors once they reach the website. By focusing on getting a large quantity of people to your website you will lose. But by getting the right people to your website so you can engage them in an ongoing dialog you are using big data to win the game.

Although personalization on websites enhances a visitor’s engagement with your website and brand the other nice benefit it provides is it allows you to interweave your website into your sales and marketing initiatives. In my previous example about the accounting company capturing a visitor looking for “small business tax accountants” that company can now capture that individual’s email address via a whitepaper download or email subscription and then send them targeted email marketing campaigns with content specifically for small business accounting. In the meantime, the sales person at the accounting practice has insights which allow for better discussions on topics that is important to them. In addition, other campaigns can be sent out to this visitor encouraging them to follow their small business accounting Twitter account which leads to their small business accounting blog.

The ultimate goal you are trying to accomplish is to attract, convert and retain a customer for life. You no longer want to just meet their needs but understand them, anticipate their needs and provide them with an experience that makes your company relevant and top of mind. This is what Galvin Technologies calls the Customer Experience Management, or CXM, model. By incorporating a CXM strategy companies are able to drive revenue by providing a 360-degree view of the customer.

*Next Generation Web Content Management: A Comprehensive Assessment of Current Challenges & The Future of WCM, Ian Michiels. October 2009.

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Gary Galvin is the president and founder of Galvin Technologies. Gary Galvin started Galvin Technologies in 2003 and has grown the company from a one-person company to one of the largest web development companies in Indianapolis. He started the company with the vision of having a web and software development company that set the standard for how projects are to be properly run. By focusing heavily on building robust software project processes and ensuring on-time and in-budget delivery, Galvin Technologies has been able to become a leader in the industry by building client services that continue to grow revenue and a senior level team.

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