For the past decade, companies have been increasingly caring about social media. They can after all, be really effective business communication channels. But they do mean real-time decisions for sales and marketing. Are you ready?
Companies use it to increasing their demand generation strategies using Facebook Fan Pages, Corporate Twitter accounts, beautiful Pinterest photographs, and even YouTube channels, just to name a few.
In the “Call Center”, they can monitor what’s being said about your company or your product. You can use simple tools like Desk.com to monitor emails, Twitter and Facebook for positive and negative comments. Or you can use Radian6 for more advanced analytics including what’s being said about your competition.
But once they get to your web page or Blog, I find the traditional methods to improve the customer experience are so dated. They either use a hit-and-miss random approach, or the antiquated A/B split testing.
In this article, I’ll focus on what to do once they land on your site, and I’ll save the different advertising strategies and demand generation for a later post.
As a company, you’ve worked hard to maintain your brand. As well, you spend a lot of money on various ad campaigns and other media outlets to promote your products. But when a user (and future customer!) arrives on your site, you want to provide a targeted experience. Laser targeted.
Once you define your business goals, whether it’s capturing emails to increase newsletter subscribers, or simply increasing conversions (and ultimately sales and profits), you want to move away from segmentation and really narrow down on a one-to-one approach where you feel the company is talking to you. The experience has to be individual. There are competitors out there stalking on your customers.
For example, if you shop at Amazon.com, you will find your choices have been tailored based on your user profile, previous purchases and what others have purchased based on a single item. Of course, this assumes you have logged in and authenticated! Then the customer reviews and 5-star system comes in handy for all the great stories and horror stories. (I personally love travel websites like Expedia and Travelocity when booking hotels for the first time… maybe I spend too much time on this?) But imagine if (and when?) Amazon can connect to Facebook and see what your friends think about that same product? Imagine if there was a Chatter or Yammer feed next to all purchases? Remember, when purchasing an item, you are more likely to be influenced based on a recommendation of a friend, rather than a 30 second TV commercial or Wall Street Journal Page 3 ad.
Speaking of logging in and authenticating, you will see more and more sites, especially in the EU and UK implement loyalty programs. Why? Because you can gather only so much information based on browser, IP address and device. And the standard cookies (we’ll save that argument for another day..). By logging in, you get the rich customer profile and that is gold.
As a long time IT Director, I’ve always felt that technology was the easiest part of any project management. Thus to implement Real-Time Decisions, the most important factors are rules and predictive analytics. You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Oracle’s Real-Time Decisions (RTD) platform combines both rules and predictive analytics to power solutions for real-time enterprise decision management. You will need a high-performance transactional server to deliver real-time decisions and recommendations, but that should be the last of your worries.
Real-Time Decisions doesn’t have to be an offer, recommendation or upsell. It can be a simple welcome message. Or even a “treatment”… how to handle this particular case if you are using this in the Call Center.
Of course, common sense prevails here… if you are promoting an offer, make sure your SKU has the right inventory (in stock!) to match that item. Don’t sell a 13” laptop case when they bought a 15” laptop!!! But do offer USB cables when buying a printer! If you are selling toys, offer them batteries.
Real-Time Decisions for Sales and Marketing – also for Inbound
Finally, Real-Time Decisions doesn’t stop at the shopping cart or conversions. It is also used in the lead maturation phase of inbound marketing, and that includes email newsletters. Yes, email is still one of the most effective ways to communicate your sales and marketing pitches despite the number of users slowing elimination email from their communication base. But it doesn’t have to be a simple segmentation rule. You can narrow and customize the email based on the individual user.
I believe the market in Business Intelligence and Real-Time Decisions is untapped because Marketing & Sales Executive are putting their efforts elsewhere. The rate limiting factor is not server or software performance. RTD implementation has to be part of their overall strategy. Sometimes you only get one chance to make a first impression.