Getting personal: what is Digital Customer Experience Management (CxM)?

4th Aug, 2015
by Richard Wright

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In this article Richard Wright answers, in plain english, what Digital Customer Experience Management is and how it can benefit your organisation.

Digital Customer Experience Management has one aim - to give your customer what they want, when they want it.  Just as Norm in Cheers was always greeted with his favourite frothy topped treat, CxM methodologies and platforms aim to help you be just as personal with your customers.

Digital Customer Experience Management is a term to describe a set of methodologies, strategies and technologies that help marketers to get a deeper understanding of the customer and to ultimately build deeper engagement with and induce action from the customer.  It follows that deeper engagement will lead to a higher propensity for consideration and sales (bit of a generalisation, but digital attribution modelling does support this*).  Digital Customer Experience Management (CxM) is also known as Web Customer Experience Management (WCEM) – there are a number of other terms but fundamentally they mean the same thing.

CxM differs from Web Content Management in that Web Content Management is focused on delivering much the same experience to all visitors to a website, where CxM aims to learn more about a visitor and to actively use this to alter the visitors experience to ensure that they are delivered a personalised experience.  The aim of CxM is to provide the right message to the right person at the right time, this provides value to the customer and ultimately drives sales.

The 3 Pillars of CxM

There are three fundamentals of any CxM system or programme that you must get right to succeed and achieve good ROI.

Pillar 1: Data Collection and Visitor Identification

Core to CxM is collecting data.  From the first visit to your site we create a unique account is created for the visitor and data is recorded of what they do on the website, landing pages, page views, referrers (where they came from i.e. paid advertising clicks, search keywords), form submissions, searches, email opens and clicks, return visits etc etc etc are all recorded against an individual (as opposed to Google Analytics which does not record data at the individual level).  A cookie is set on the visitors’ browser to record data for repeat visits and to identify visitors.  Geolocation is determined by IP address.

By collecting every interaction the visitor makes, over time we build an increasingly rich picture of their preferences, behaviour’s, demographics (if they choose to fill in a form) and environmental attributes such as time of day and device, in some cases reverse IP lookups can also determine company (from the domain name derived from the IP address).

This generates an exceptionally large quantity of data, the digital exhaust of every visitor to your website over what can be a long period of time is substantial.  Note that this is all anonymous data until such time as the user provides email and other personal details via a subscription, competition entry, login or other form submission.

The Data collected can be further augmented from external permission based data sets (e.g. CRM or sales data).

The real trick with data collection is to know what data to collect and to collect the data that is going to provide the most amount of value to the visitor and your marketing goals.  There is no point in asking a bunch of questions in forms that are not going to deliver some value to the business and primarily to the visitor.

Pillar 2: Segmentation and Scoring

As the sheer quantity of data collected is so large it makes sense to break it into chunks to more easily understand and act on it.  For this we use two methodologies: Segmentation and Scoring.

Segmentation

Segmentation can be achieved by slicing and dicing the data in any way possible, it does, however make sense to align your segments with your marketing goals and making sure that the segments help to deliver value to the business and the consumer.

In general your data is segmented on a mix of behavioural, demographic and environmental attributes of the data collected.  Behavioural segmentation could be page views within a certain section of your website – showing a preference for a product or topic, search terms that identify a preference, purchases (if ecommerce) or referrals. Demographics could be age, gender, location. Environmental could be device or time of day.  A typical segment could be “females, 24-34 who have been identified as having purchased a product in the last x days”, but they can be based on any the data collected.

Scoring

Scoring (sometimes called Lead Scoring) allows the digital marketer to attach arbitrary points to certain behaviours, or demographics.  This allows us to score users based on more desirable behaviours and segment users based on their score.  Scoring can also be used to identify hot leads that can be treated differently (e.g. sent to a customer representative for a follow-up).

At Union we will often create a “Web Engagement Pyramid” of scores – measuring general web activity – this allows us to segment visitors into the most engaged to least engaged – if campaigns and marketing activity is effective you should see a shift in this pyramid over time.  Scores can be used to measure campaign effectiveness by measuring shifts in desired behaviours.

Pillar 3: Action

Having large amounts of (quality) data and your segments nailed is only a tiny part of the CxM job, and while useful from an analytics point of view, data and segments are not truly useful unless they are able to be acted upon.

In general terms CxM platforms do two particular Actions well.  Automation and Personalisation.

Marketing Automation

Marketing Automation (drip marketing and lead nurture are other names for this) allow us to run a series of predefined Actions when an automation process is Triggered by a behaviour or attribute of a visitor.  The Trigger could be when a visitor reaches a certain score, fills in a form, makes a purchase or abandons their shopping cart, or changes a demographic attribute e.g. users with an email from Auckland.

The Automation Actions could be sending an email after a certain period of time; sending a lead to a customer services, sales rep or CRM system; sending an SMS, or further segmenting a visitor.

When a visitor is in an automation process the process can change (branch) based on another behaviour the visitor completes when in the Automation process e.g. has the visitor opened or clicked a previous email, returned to the website or purchased something.

Marketing Automation allows marketers to develop complex one to one marketing strategies that evolve based on the needs, attributes and actions of a visitor. 

Personalisation

Another core part of altering the customer experience is to personalise their experience. Content personalisation is the method by which the website serves different content (generally web or email content) to different visitors based on their behavioural, demographic or environmental attributes.

This could be as simple as changing a banner on the home page of a website when a visitor is from a certain location, or has clicked a paid ad, is returning to the site, has a certain score or is in a certain segment.  It can be more complex such as popping up an offer or subscription form on a site when the user has shown more than a passing interest in certain content or products.

Email content can also be personalised based on behavioural, demographic or environmental attributes – such as showing content related to a topic they are interested in or if the user is from a certain location.

Final note – “with great power” …

By leveraging these core principles of CxM Digital Marketers can now really show and improve ROI from their marketing programmes and also provide a greatly improved and personalised experience for their users.

While CxM is very powerful it must be used carefully so as not to compromise the privacy of the visitor.  It should be transparent to the visitor and data security and privacy should be at the core of any CxM programme.

Here at UNION, we use our flagship Kentico EMS platform to deliver a range of CxM options for our clients. For more information and to get started on this exciting new era in Digital Marketing please contact Todd Wackrow (todd@uniondigital.co.nz) or call him on 022 106 4868.  

In the next article Richard will look at more specific elements and examples of leveraging CxM platforms and strategies to make your CxM plaform pay for itself in a shorter period of time.

Marketing Attribution: Valuing the Customer Journey