How to effectively engage with online customers

The timeless problem for online marketers has been improving their customer engagement, and interacting with them on a personal level. Breaking it down further, the real issue has been understanding the site visitors’ needs even before they explicitly specify it, and then presenting them with a tailor made solution.

Web and social media have given buyers power

Earlier, buyers were limited in the ways they could gather product information. In those times, you would see a billboard Ad which made you curious, and you then walked up to the shop and asked the sales agent for more information. Coming back to the same place to buy from the same sales agent was the usual practice. After all, you were getting individual attention and all the information was customized as per your preferences/needs. But now, in the digital era, customers frequently move between websites and mobile apps to their eMail inbox, consuming more and more information before their decision is made. Web and social media have enabled the buyers to be in a position of power.

Since most of the buyers’ journeys are taking place online, people are bombarded with digital messages, so much so, that it’s difficult to cut through the digital noise and reach out to them.

Fortunately, customers are willing to share their information with you as a base for more targeted, personal experiences. In fact, a whopping 73% of online visitors are happy to share their demographics with trusted sites. But in turn, online customers are getting more demanding, and marketers have to ensure they use visitor information wisely and effectively. If you get it wrong, your customers will abandon you. A Dynamic Market study found that 84% of consumers will no longer buy from a company that fails to understand them – by not taking into account preference, purchase history and other information provided.

Customers want a personalized buying experience

As humans, we want a relevant and personalized experience – a conversation – and the same is expected in the digital world. Providing information to a user as per individual behavior is not impossible, and is the most efficient way to engage and retain potential customers. According to a survey, 52% of marketers say that Targeted Content is fundamental to their online strategy. What’s more, 82% of prospects have accepted that Targeted Content is more appealing to them. It’s not easy to pull off this kind of alignment. So how do you achieve this?

Well, marketing automation tools have been able to pull this off to some extent, leading to successful, personalized eMail marketing campaigns. However, the biggest concern right now is to present the appropriate content, dynamically on the web.

Pleasing all means impressing none

Different site visitors have different intentions: some are there to buy; others just for research, and some might even be trying to get a job. Then, there are first time visitors and returning ones. Some actually land up on your site by mistake, and don’t know why they’re there!

Despite all of this, most websites and landing pages display exactly the same content for all visitors. These websites try to please all, but unfortunately impress none.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to display different content and CTAs for different types of visitors? Essentially, it means making your visitors feel like that the page speaks their language.

How to personalize customer engagement – ExactTarget & Ektron

To fill in this gap, and in order to truly drive engagement, you need to integrate CMS and marketing automation platforms. Once you get them working together, you can deliver a truly unified experience. This is exactly what the ExactTarget DXH connector has made possible. By integrating Ektron CMS and ExactTarget, via Ektron’s DXH technology, marketers now can take advantage of a single data model to target and track eMails to the customers and prospects within the CMS. Armed with the prospect’s response on eMail campaigns and the explicit data submitted while subscribing to promotion campaigns, marketers can now create a set of rules in Ektron’s ExactTarget content widget. These rules ensure that site visitors will be shown the content relevant to them. As the prospects move along their decision making journey and become repeat visitors, further information can be collected to create a more accurate profile of them.

You will then have the ability to show the content that your customers want to see, rather than what you assume they want to see. This enables you to deliver meaningful content that increases connections with visitors, drives up engagement with prospects, and ultimately results in the acquisition of more customers.

Image Credit: stavos on Flickr

Author : Varun K Nair Date : 30 Jun 2014