Engage customers with web marketing

Marketing used to be a lot simpler. In today’s highly connected society, creating and measuring customer engagement online is key.

Growing | Marketing

By Conrad Bennett

Customer retention
Retention of customers, especially online, is more than simply sending out e-coupons at certain times of the year. It is about understanding the behaviour and interests of your consumers to create an ongoing dialogue, one that is beneficial to the consumer and on their terms.

How do you get the kind of insight that you need to Reveal, Reward, Respect and Retain your own customers? What are some of the solutions you need to consider to establish this type of relationship with your customers and ultimately measure success in enabling this?

Most web analytics solutions can offer some insight, but it often requires time and resources to piece it all together. You have to sift through online interactions, page views and visits to pull together a complete view. In today’s mature marketplace, this approach is not enough for most organisations.

You need to be able to respond quickly when your customers interact with you and measure engagement on an ongoing basis.

Customers come first
By putting the customer at the centre of your universe, WebTrends gives you the ability to listen, learn and take action on the insights you have so you can understand the people behind your website visits:

  • Listen: You can gain an understanding of how individuals interact with your business over the lifetime of that relationship.
  • Learn: Score the potential value of each visitor based on the actions they take online and integrate that with information from offline data sources.
  • Act: Ongoing marketing communications and online interactions are based on recent activity relevant to the activity.

The result puts the individual at the centre of your marketing to build engagement and drive targeted actions that maximise business results. When you consider the amount of time consumers spend online, this gives you an opportunity to know your audience like never before. There are many traits that you can uncover about the customer based on their online actions, even if they are just browsing, as well as from offline consumer data such as demographics or CRM data.

You can use this information to develop a complete, 360-degree view of your customers.  Activities are combined into an interest profile that builds over time, giving you insight into how the customer speaks, thinks and acts. This interest profile starts building the minute someone comes to your website, regardless of when they identify themselves though registration ID or some other conversion event.

Combining online with offline
You can certainly learn a lot by combining offline information, such as demographic or geographical location, with CRM data such as loyalty programme memberships or purchasing history, with attitudinal data such as surveys. The big opportunity is to bring online behaviour into the picture. This is where consumers are telling you, minute by minute, what they are interested in. Now real drivers of intent such as recency and frequency can be used to drive targeted marketing.

Once these profiles are analysed it is easy to look at visitors with similar interests and create highly targeted segments based on their interest profiles. For example, if you were a motor vehicle company, you could find everyone who is exploring SUVs and everyone who is exploring sedans. You can send the SUV segment an email encouraging them to watch a video about the recent model changes and you can send the sedan shoppers an email about performance and innovation.

But the dialogue doesn’t stop there. When you see the response from a customer, you can build out the profile even more. For example, if you see that a customer clicked on the promotion for a new product safety video and then went online to watch it, this can be added into that customers profile and combined with other elements to reveal a measure of engagement. If a lot of other very valuable customers did the same thing then you now have a very desirable audience with a high degree of interest in your product. You can see how this reveals, micro-targeted, actionable segments and sets the stage for the next interactions.

Now you can be confident to invest $16 in a glossy brochure based on what you revealed, knowing this will go into the hands of people who have clearly indicated they are interested. And this is a timely and a welcome reward for someone that is getting excited about the prospect of owning a new SUV. You can also find their local automotive dealer based on their CRM data and have the dealer contact these customers and ask them to take a test drive of the new SUV on the market, one with the highest safety index. This is a much more respectful way of engaging with a prospective customer based on the interests they have already expressed to you.

A new level of insight
Now imagine that you can set your own scores on what is a valuable interaction and use those scores to assign levels of interest. In the motor vehicle company example, we can look at how measurement of visitor engagement provides a whole new level of insight to influence decisions you make around campaign performance as well as the actions you take to more effectively target your marketing. Although a campaign might not result in immediate conversion or revenue, wouldn’t it be great to get the additional insight to answer these questions: which customers should I continue to invest in and which investments lead to the highest conversion?

WebTrends believes it is this level of insight that provides an absolutely critical competitive advantage in today’s difficult business environment. It allows businesses to move away from straight push marketing to the more subtle, consumer-driven communications. It is the future of consumer understanding and allows you to plug into the rich interactions occurring online every minute.

Utilising the four R’s of web marketing – Reveal, Reward, Respect and Retain will enable you to interact with your online consumers on a deeper level.

-Conrad Bennett is technical services director for Webtrends (www.webtrends.com), the worldwide leader in web analytics.

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