Digital experience optimization (DXO) is a requirement if you want to survive in today’s hyper-competitive, customer-driven marketplace.
That’s why BlastX is so exciting. This evolving, experience-focused solution from Blast is a bold move that can help you unify your data, understand your customers better, and deliver highly personalized digital experiences in real-time — experiences that, in turn, build customer engagement and long-term loyalty.
Customers Rule (and They Crave Experience)
In accelerated fashion, customer experience has taken center stage, and if your business strategy hasn’t kept pace, you’re at risk of losing out — and losing customers.
Your customers aren’t losing, though, because they’ve moved on to competitors who are providing a better experience.
Sound too strong? It’s not. Consider that 84% of customers say customer experience is as important to them as the products they’re purchasing, according to Salesforce. If you don’t meet their expectations, they have other options.
But if you do, you create engagement and loyalty* that keeps customers coming back — and telling other people about their great experience. They’re more likely to keep purchasing from you, and more likely to consider your new products and services.
If you take one thing away from this article, it’s this: Digital experience is no longer transactional, or about the immediate conversion; it’s about the ongoing customer relationship, with loyalty being the valuable metric.
Customers will often even pay a higher price than your competitors are charging, just for the optimal experience of doing business with you. That means the real competition isn’t about products; it’s about the quality of the experience you provide.
The bar is set high for customer experience in the increasingly competitive digital era. Customers are comparing the experience you offer to every experience of great service they’ve ever had, even across industries or marketplaces.
So what do they want out of their digital experience?
- They want you to understand their needs and show them products and services that are relevant to those needs.
- They want to feel safe, knowing you won’t misuse their private data.
- They want great deals, or great value.
- They want you to help them make smart choices.
- And most of all, above all else, customers want you to solve their problems as quickly and simply as possible.
Your brand is sacred, and you must ensure the beholders of your brand — your customers — receive nothing less than a personalized, optimized experience at every touchpoint.
Digital Transformation Is Happening — Whether You’re on the Ride or Not
2020 and 2021 have been game-changers, accelerating what many executives already knew: digital transformation is happening, and it’s happening fast. This has sparked an increase in focus and investment on enterprise-wide digital transformation — one that’s more customer-centric than ever. Because today, customers demand relevant experiences in real time on any device, and digital transformation isn’t waiting. You need to update your approach, your processes, and your technology to be able to deliver seamless digital experiences in the moment.
What are the digital marketing trends that are changing the playing field in 2021? John Copeland, VP of marketing and customer insights at Adobe, and Jason Heller, president of Persado, have outlined them clearly as follows.
A Direct-to-Consumer Model That Embraces Personalization at Scale
The events of 2020 drove many customers to embrace the direct-to-consumer (DTC) model that thrives online. As a result, many businesses raced to catch up with where their consumers were already headed, resulting in some hastily contrived digital experiences that were less than terrific. Even companies in industries that one wouldn’t expect to do well in an online DTC model, such as financial services, found they had to make it work.
The demand for a DTC experience isn’t dropping in 2021, which means companies must find a way to make their online presence known and appreciated. That requires personalization at scale. Going forward, companies must deliver excellent content, driven by customer data and smart choices, to offer customers the need-based journeys they require.
First-Party Data Strategies (and an End to Cookies)
The drive online has made customers extra sensitive to how their data is being used, with many feeling increasingly uncomfortable about third-party cookies tracking them across the internet — something changing and being addressed by the industry. Customers want transparency regarding how their data is used and stored, and they want to know they can trust the companies they’re dealing with. As Winterberry Group predicts, 2021 should bring a 60.4% increase in spending on first-party data, with companies using their own servers to collect customer data rather than relying on cookies.
The shift to first- and now zero-party data feeds right into DXO and personalization. Businesses will have to understand deeply how customers feel about the content they’re interacting with and how they reached that content. In turn, that “voice of customer” data provides just what’s needed for deep personalization and targeting.
Therefore, activation is key. Building and maintaining customer trust hinges on you doing something meaningful — and customer experience-focused — with the data you’re collecting.
People-Centered Digital Transformation
Digital transformation has kicked into high gear because businesses had no real choice. Now it’s time for marketers to deliver value in the digital arena.
Going forward, Copeland and Heller feel the centering of the customer will only increase, which means marketers must be able to deliver high-end experience by harnessing the needed skills and technology. Using data to make accurate forecasts about digital experience trends will become even more vital when deciding where to direct marketing dollars. The combination of data and creativity creates a marketing powerhouse, especially when companies use analytics tools to measure the effects of content delivery and to hold creatives accountable to the organization’s marketing agenda.
A Digital Customer Journey That Demands Marketing Agility
The world can change overnight. That’s one of the key lessons of the past couple years. And while the pandemic may have been a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, the takeaway should be a lesson that keeps marketers on their toes.
Content agility has proved crucial. The ability to deliver highly personalized content to customers requires an organization framework that provides the ability to test, optimize and adapt, as well as the well-designed technology to track and organize customer experiences at multiple levels. The McKinsey & Company 4D model provides an organizational framework to handle content smartly at the four key levels of data, decisioning, design, and distribution.
Keeping these four components in balance enables the creation of customer-centric content and digital experiences. And as content leads the way for marketers, investing in content marketing talent will be vital to success.
Increased Digital Ad Spends
Looking at 2021, eMarketer predicts a 10% increase in digital ad spending, with concomitant increases in video advertising. The priority focus on video advertising is driven by the binge watching that consumers have flocked to, which helped lead them to treat ads as a personalized, relational experience rather than just a business transaction.
The increased ad spends also come with a change in strategy driven by customers’ desire to engage with brands that share their values. Corporate responsibility is coming to the forefront as a marketing consideration, along with issues that encompass sustainability, diversity, and accessibility. These areas of focus allow companies to create awareness at the brand level, in turn helping customers to create relational bonds with the brands they trust.
What’s at the core of all these anticipated developments highlighted by Copeland and Heller? What do the points above all share in common? People. Customers. Which brings us back to the heart of digital experience optimization (DXO).
Your Brand is More than Sacred
Your business lives or dies based on how customers perceive your brand. At every touchpoint, every interaction with a customer, you have the opportunity to create a positive result — or to end a customer relationship forever.
That’s why digital experience optimization must be at the heart of your business strategy. As customers’ expectations continue to rise, with the bar set higher and higher, the personalized digital experiences that your enterprise delivers make all the difference. DXO shifts your customers’ online experience and relationship with your brand in a way that shows up in your return on investment (ROI).
Forrester research makes the numbers clear. Digital experience optimization delivers an astonishing 242% ROI, with a 1.9x return on ad spending, a healthy 1.7x customer retention rate, and a revenue growth rate of 35%. No wonder smart companies are leaning into DXO to harness the power of unified customer data and marketing tech in building transformative digital experiences for customers and future customers alike.
People Are People
Here’s something that’s worth saying repeatedly: Customers are the heart of your business, and they must be at the heart of your business strategy, including your digital strategy.
It’d be nice to believe that customers make rational decisions based purely on predictable, carefully considered parameters, but that would be false. As human beings, customers are driven by their emotions when they make decisions, including deciding whether to bond with your brand or not. Customers’ feelings also predominate when they take actions, including purchasing from your brand, or not.
That’s where DXO comes in.
Bring Them In
Because customers are driven by all-too-human emotions, your company must treat them as the individual people they are. To connect with customers, you must bring them into the conversation to provide their unique insight, not just “think” that you understand them based on limited data. (The latter approach is what causes an empathy gap, as talked about further down.)
Success occurs when you deliver the personalized experiences your customers not only expect, but that they’ve directly communicated to you. DXO is the link between these two sides of emotion-driven customer experience that builds brand loyalty.
When you know your customer well enough to deliver truly personalized experiences, you can take them on a journey that consumers appreciate.
How to Make DXO Part of Your Marketing Strategy
Digital experience optimization doesn’t have to remain a mystery. You can optimize your customers’ digital experience to build relationships of trust by leveraging the key elements of DXO: data unification, customer segmentation, experience personalization, and marketing tech.
Standardizing the data that you collect from customers is the first step in leveraging that information to inform their digital experience. By gathering demographic, behavioral, contextual, and psychographic data, you gain the ability to build accurate, useful customer profiles, giving you the insights you need to drive your personalization efforts.
But it’s deeper than that. Brands that try to optimize the digital experience without truly listening to customers creates an empathy gap, where brands think they’re delivering on customer needs, but customers feel otherwise. That’s where voice of customer and zero-party data come in, complementing first-party data to gain true customer insights for personalization at scale.
Listening (Zero-Party Data)
A customer-centric marketing strategy goes beyond standard data and incorporates zero-party data — information intentionally and proactively shared with your brand through Voice of Customer, preference quizzes, loyalty programs, and other feedback mechanisms. Optimizing your digital experience without listening to your customers perpetuates the empathy gap, where brands believe they’re meeting customer expectations, but customers feel differently. True optimization occurs by marrying existing data collection with zero-party data to understand — and then delivering on — what customers want.
Customers overwhelmingly expect brands to know what they need, and that kind of mind-reading comes from the personalization available with granular customer segmentation. DXO helps you understand your customers’ needs, intentions, and pain points while still protecting their privacy. Through excellent customer segmentation and creation of customer profiles, you can deliver the personalized experiences customers increasingly demand.
Customer-centric experiences and strategies are the heart of digital experience optimization (DXO). With the unified data and customer segmentation you’ve created, you can deliver true personalization at every stage of your customers’ journeys and across all channels your customers use. By meeting consumers at every touchpoint, you help your brand stand out from your competitors, and you build the relationships and loyalty that result when customers feel that you know them.
Marketing Technology (MarTech)
You have amazing marketing tech at your disposal, and DXO helps you harness its power to get everything from your MarTech that you need. Your digital marketing tools can streamline your workflow in real time so your customers see exactly the content you want them to see at every touchpoint. AI uses predictive analytics to automate personalization, and analytics tools help you reach new insights you might not have generated any other way. Today’s MarTech frees up your marketing department to focus on content rather than dealing with technology issues, so they can create a story that’s consistent across all channels, meeting your customers’ needs in the moment.
How Are You Optimizing Your Digital Experience?
BlastX offers the digital experience optimization (DXO) expertise you need to take your enterprise to the next level, harnessing data science, analytics, marketing strategy, and technology to deliver optimal digital experiences for your customers. We’d love to know what’s working for you, as well as your specific challenges. Connect with us to start the conversation. You can also download our white paper on Digital Experience Optimization.