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The first time I saw a recommendation for a movie on Netflix, or a product on Amazon, I was impressed. These companies could figure out from what I watched or browsed or bought, what I was interested in and suggest something I didn’t know I wanted. They were, and are, truly pioneers in understanding the customer journey from casual browser to long term, repeat customer. But, they didn’t stop there. Netflix knows that 75% of view activity is based on the suggestions their algorithms provide. Amazon recently obtained a patent on a system designed to ship goods before they are even purchased.
These companies are doing amazing things. But, there is more that can be done.
The strength of these online retailers, and Netflix is at its heart an online retailer, is that they are for all intents and purposes 100% online. Granted, Amazon has physical locations for product warehousing and shipping, but there are no corner Amazon stores to run down to and purchase a book, shirt or computer cable. These companies have access to constant customer feedback from their online presence. They know if someone has casually browsed a product, or spent seven hours binge watching House of Cards.
But, while eBay can tell that on average a shopper uses three to five devices for each purchase, Netflix knows if a viewer watches the credits after a movie, and Amazon will suggest adding a HDMI cable for a newly purchased TV, there are two issues that face many organizations.
The first is that most companies don’t have the resources or knowledge to gather, analyze and adjust their strategies and technologies like these industry giants. For every Amazon, eBay and Netflix there are thousands of companies that want to achieve the level of customer awareness and agility to customize the content, messages and products that they are offering their clients, but they don’t know how to get to that point. There are CEOs, CMOs and other senior executives at these thousands of companies that know where they want to go, but they don’t know how to get there. They are looking for experts to lead them.
Secondly, many companies have interactions with customers that are outside of their web presence. Sales reps capture meeting notes in a CRM. Marketing automation systems run email campaigns. Leads from local events are captured. Registrations are submitted to qualify for warrantees. All these interactions and more are part of the customer journey and affect where a client is in their customer journey with a company and its brand.
Agencies must be there and be ready.
Agencies have always provided guidance, but the difference is that in this (r)evolution of brand/customer interaction the approaches need to evolve as well. Agencies need to provide insight into how the Big Data of marketing can come together to provide insight into the entire customer journey and how organizations can best leverage that insight to drive business goals. Is that goal to drive increase customer satisfaction? Revenue? Retention? All of the above? Regardless of the primary area of focus, organizations are dealing with the fastest moving, multi-channel environment in history. Companies are looking for the strategies that are right for their market.
Technology is both the friend and the enemy. There are systems that are both on premise and in the cloud that are more powerful and far reaching than ever before. The problems organizations face include scattered online and offline customer data, disconnected business systems, inability to analyze the data and act on it. This data must be integrated to get a full picture of how customers interact with a brand. These are not just technical challenges, but pose key strategy and core business questions that must be answered. Companies don’t just not know the answers, they're looking for help asking the questions.
The technology is available to make even small to mid-sized companies into the next mini-Amazon, but the knowledge and strategy is often lacking. The challenge for each digital agency is to fully embrace the new way that customers are interacting with vendors and distributors and lead providers of products and services towards the most effective path to achieving their marketing and corporate goals. The competitive advantages are the same for any size business, as the benefits of a 360-degree view of each customer is vital regardless of company size, industry or global reach.
Like any relationship the deeper it goes, the more information shared, the greater the risk. But, the greater the risk the greater the potential reward. For an agency to provide strategy and insight, it must have access to day-to-day activity data, such as ecommerce information and marketing program results. This kind of data intimacy is vital if the agency is going to provide not just strategy advice, but guide a client to tactics that achieve results.
Data Scientist? Data Savvy Marketer? Growth Hacker? The people that fill these jobs are the ones that every agency needs to help clients really connect this new level of big customer data to business results. These are the people that understand all the systems that hold customer data, marketing programs results and can connect one to the other. If you don’t have one on staff, get one quickly.
But, just getting the right person won’t work if they don’t have the right marketing tools. Each client an agency is guiding down this new road needs to have a data collection and analytics platform, like the Telerik Sitefinity Digital Experience Cloud (DEC), that brings together the data that tracks a customer’s journey from anonymous site browser to long term customer. With these tools and expertise an agency can provide the insights necessary to drive a winning pure digital or hybrid strategy.
Just like any good racing team it takes more than a fast car and a talented driver. It takes a crew and a crew chief that knows the strengths of the driver, the technology of the car and the best strategy to race on a given track. It’s no different in this new world that merges digital and traditional marketing. Organizations are desperately searching for experts that know how to both devise a comprehensive marketing strategy, and drive tactics leveraging all the data from a variety of systems that define the entire customer journey. It’s a big job, but for the agencies and experts that can combine market savvy with the technical ability to understand all the aspects of customer interactions and how to improve them? Those experts are going to be as successful as they make their clients.
Are you ready?
To learn more about the Telerik Sitefinity Platform, click here.
View all posts from Robert Mattson on the Progress blog. Connect with us about all things application development and deployment, data integration and digital business.
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