Evergage - Feed https://www.evergage.comf Real-time behavior-based personalization Mon, 15 Jul 2019 18:09:46 +0000 en hourly 1 Evergage Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines, 2019 https://www.evergage.com/blog/evergage-named-a-leader-in-gartners-magic-quadrant-for-personalization-engines-2019/ Mon, 15 Jul 2019 18:00:51 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=51521

Keep on reading: Evergage Named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines, 2019]]>

I’m really excited to announce that Evergage has been named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines, 2019. This is the second Magic Quadrant in the category to be published by Gartner and the second year in a row that Evergage has been named a Leader in the report. This year, Evergage placed in the highest overall position for ability to execute.

Gartner defines personalization engines as “software that applies context about individual users to select, tailor and deliver messaging such as content, offers and other interactions through digital channels in support of three use cases: marketing, digital commerce and customer experience (CX).”

By most accounts, the adoption and prioritization of personalization engines continues to gain significance in today’s marketing departments. According to Gartner, “Marketing leaders are steadily increasing their investment in personalization — it now makes up 14% of marketing spend.”1 Additionally, adoption of personalization engines is up 28 percentage points since 2016.2

We believe this new report is a helpful resource for those businesses currently considering or prioritizing personalization technology investments.

A Leading Platform

This year’s report compares the 14 personalization vendors that met Gartner’s inclusion criteria for the category. As part of the evaluation process, each vendor was required to submit responses to a detailed questionnaire, submit a recorded product demo video, give a live presentation/briefing, and provide numerous reference customers.

Gartner analysts evaluated the vendors based on 15 different criteria across two dimensions: ability to execute and completeness of vision. Based on each vendor’s cumulative scores, they were charted into one of four quadrants: Niche Players, Challengers, Visionaries and Leaders.

According to the report,

Leaders are vendors that demonstrate a solid understanding of the product capabilities and commitment to customer success that buyers demand in the current market. This is coupled with an easily understandable and attractive pricing model that supports proof of value, incremental purchases and enterprise scale. In the modern personalization engine market, purchase decision makers demand easy-to-use and easy-to-buy products. They require that these products deliver clear business value and deliver results with limited technical expertise and without the requirement for upfront involvement from IT. In a rapidly evolving market with constant innovation, a Leader must also demonstrate that it is not focused only on current execution. It must have a robust roadmap for solidifying its position as a future market leader, thus protecting the investment of today’s buyers.

Evergage is the premier personalization platform provider. It includes a customer data platform (CDP) at its core and the platform natively captures and leverages in-depth first-party data that other vendors do not. Our comprehensive platform, in turn, empowers our customers to deploy rule-based and machine-learning-driven personalized experiences that address advanced cross-channel use cases.

Our relentless commitment to building the most comprehensive personalization and CDP solution means that companies can use Evergage to integrate disparate customer data sources, deliver more consistent customer experiences, and achieve greater operational efficiencies than possible with multiple point solutions.

Evaluating Evergage

I encourage readers of this post and prospective customers especially to download the report to read more about Gartner’s findings.

For more perspective on the key vendors competing in the personalization space, we also encourage you to consider additional evaluation resources as well. Evergage was recently named a Leader in the G2 Grid® Report for Personalization Engines, reflecting the voice of unbiased and authenticated user reviews – with Evergage earning the highest customer satisfaction rating of all solutions included. 451 Research has provided a detailed evaluation of Evergage in its own comprehensive report as well.

Thanks & Final Thoughts

I am truly grateful to our clients who challenge and inspire us every day to build and continuously improve our platform. We wouldn’t be where we are today without their trust and commitment. Evergage’s placement in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines this year is great news and something our whole organization is extremely proud of.

To learn more about Gartner’s analysis of the market for personalization engines, download the report. And to learn how Evergage can help improve results for your business, request a demo today!

Gartner, Magic Quadrant for Personalization Engines, Jennifer Polk, Martha Mathers, Jason McNellis, 3 July 2019

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

1 Gartner, Inc., Presentation of CMO Spend Survey 2018-2019: Marketers Proceed Into Uncharted Waters With Confidence, Anna Maria Virzi and Ewan McIntyre, November 13, 2018.
2 Gartner, Inc., Presentation of Marketing Technology Survey 2018: Martech Adoption Surges as Brands PursuePersonalization, Measurement and Advertising Accountability, Anna Maria Virzi and Bryan Yeager, November 2, 2018.

Karl Wirth
Why Is Omnichannel Important: Experts Weigh In https://www.evergage.com/blog/why-is-omnichannel-important-experts-weigh-in/ Wed, 10 Jul 2019 13:00:44 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=51366

Keep on reading: Why Is Omnichannel Important: Experts Weigh In]]>

Have you ever heard someone use so many buzzwords your brain feels like it’s going to explode? “We’ve got to reach our digital native, Gen Z audience with snackable content. And we need to leverage AI across the entire buyer’s journey to deliver sufficient value-add. But we need to be transparent. And data-driven. And customer-centric. Any low-hanging fruit here? Let’s ideate.”

Buzzwords are often so overused they become clichés. Yet most buzzwords became popular terms in the first place because they represent a real trend worth exploring.

Take omnichannel for example. Whenever I hear “omnichannel” in a laundry list of other buzzwords, I can’t help but roll my eyes. But the truth is we live in a world with more communication channels than ever before. Customers and business buyers expect to be able to communicate with everyone in their lives, including the companies they interact with, in any of those channels. In other words, the term is used a lot these days because it is actually important.

But don’t just take my word for it, listen to some of the top thought leaders on the subject. I’ve compiled some key insights from them — with minimal eye-roll-inducing buzzwords!  

Omnichannel means delivering a seamless experience

In traditional marketing-speak, omnichannel means that we seek to give our customers a seamless and unified shopping experience across all channels.

Today omnichannel isn’t just a technology or shopping play. It’s more broadly the brand experience that a customer has with you across various platforms and channels, at every step of the way. It integrates technology, data, content, and communication across an organization in an effort to deliver a seamless experience to the customer or prospects.

In other words: What your customer experiences over here also matches what they experience over there. When all those touch points are aligned… it's a powerful thing. And when they aren’t, your customers and prospects end up feeling uneasy and disappointed at the mismatch. 

—Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs (via her blog)

Omnichannel is about connecting

With so many channels through which customers communicate, it seems like creating a powerful and memorable customer experience is more complicated than ever. Technically, that’s true. But, on the surface, customers want the same things they’ve always wanted, and that is to be taken care of. They may be more demanding. They may want problems resolved faster. But that’s understandable because technology has given us the tools to provide that kind of speed.

And, here is something very important to consider. Customers don’t care if you claim you have omni-channel or multi-channel capabilities. They only care that they can connect with you, the way they want to connect with you, and when they want to connect with you. They go through the channel that’s easiest and most convenient for them. It could be a phone, a desktop computer, a tablet – whatever communication method they are most comfortable with.

—Shep Hyken, Customer Service and Experience Speaker (via Forbes

Omnichannel and personalization are two sides of the same coin

Today’s organizations are really looking at omnichannel and personalization and saying, “These are the kinds of things we need to be doing for our customers.” Why? They want contextually relevant experiences, they want seamless experiences — which ties nicely to both of these initiatives. What organizations often miss, is the fact that these two initiatives are very much tied together. 

Personalization is not about making product or service recommendations anymore. It’s about creating value-oriented, contextually relevant experiences for customers. Omnichannel is about creating consistent experiences for customers. If you really think about it, those two things are very much tied together. The ability to see the customer across channels is both an initiative for omnichannel and personalization, and required to both. 

In addition, the idea of creating engagement that is seamless across channels must be personalized for the consumer, otherwise they’re not going to see value in the experience. In other words, it won’t really differentiate your brand. 

—Brendan Witcher, Vice President, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research (via Forrester)

Customers have memories, businesses need to have memories too

You can only understand an omnichannel capability by looking at a customer’s interactions through the customer’s own eyes – seeing them and experiencing them as the customer does. And the problem is, customers have memories. Whether you remember them or not, they remember you. They are totally aware of what they said to you or asked of you in one channel, and they carry that awareness with them when they interact with you via any other channel. 

This means a company can only be considered to have “omnichannel” capabilities if the history and context of each customer’s interactions in one channel are flawlessly carried over into the next channel, and the next, and the next.

—Don Peppers, Author, Speaker and CX expert (via LinkedIn) 

Technology is at the core of every omnichannel and personalization strategy

If you struggle with effective cross-channel communication with your customers and prospects, the good news is that you’re not alone. Recognizing and remembering someone across channels isn’t easy.

It starts with the right technology. You need a centralized system that can bring all of your customer data together to create a single picture of each person. Ideally, that same system can act on the data in each channel, or at least enable your other systems to act on it. 

That means that your website and your mobile app can access the data to determine the best experience for each person based on what you know about her needs. Your emails leverage the same data to select content to include in each email to each person. Your call center and in-store/in-branch staff can access the same data to recognize each person they speak with and respond with relevant information. And so on.

It’s certainly a lofty dream, and it will take some time before companies perfect it, but some companies are on their way.

—Karl Wirth, Evergage CEO and Co-Founder (via Entrepreneur)

Final Thoughts

It’s been said before but it deserves to be said again: customers expect to be recognized and remembered from one channel to the next. They view each interaction with you as another chapter in the overall story of your relationship. They don’t view it as a completely new book. 

With the customer data and personalization technology available today, you should be able to not only recognize them across channels, but provide them with a relevant and seamless experience too. 

To learn how Evergage can help your organization with omnichannel and personalized experiences, request a demo today. 

Katie Sweet
Customer Data Platforms: 6 FAQs Answered https://www.evergage.com/blog/customer-data-platforms-6-faqs-answered/ Tue, 02 Jul 2019 13:25:04 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=50989

Keep on reading: Customer Data Platforms: 6 FAQs Answered]]>

There’s been a lot of buzz around customer data platforms (CDPs) in the last few years. As a relatively new martech category, many businesses are still assessing whether they need a CDP to achieve their business goals while thinking through the role it should play within their tech stacks. Meanwhile, the CDP technology landscape continues to evolve — with new entrants joining seemingly every day. Each one has a slightly different take on the category, so it can be tough to get clear answers to questions you may have. 

In this blog post, I answer a few common CDP FAQs we’ve been hearing. 

FAQ #1: To start, what is a CDP exactly?

According to the CDP Institute, a CDP is “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems."

The CDP is the solution where all of your customer and prospect data comes together – including both structured data (e.g. CRM, marketing automation, loyalty, etc.) and unstructured data (e.g. behavioral, contextual, intent, etc.). Many other solutions will collect and store customer data within your organization, but the CDP is meant to be the central system where you create one single and complete picture of every individual. This means that your CDP must be able to take in data from multiple sources (in addition to data it tracks natively), produce insights from all that data, and be able to pass data and insights out to other systems as well. 

For more on the definition and role of a CDP, read our white paper, The Purpose and Value of a Customer Data Platform.

FAQ #2: How is disparate customer data reconciled within a CDP? 

In order to create a single picture of an individual, data within a CDP must be stored at the individual level, with a single profile for each person (and account, in the case of B2B companies). 

The challenge is that customer data enters the CDP from different systems, which all store data in their own ways in their own profiles. Thus, all of the data about a person must be stitched together within the CDP to create comprehensive individual profiles. Most CDPs can do this either through deterministic matching — stitching profiles together based on a clear, common identifier (such as email address, user ID, loyalty program number, etc.) — or probabilistic/heuristic matching — making an educated guess about which profiles represent the same person based on behaviors, location, similar data, etc. 

In short, the CDP is responsible for storing individual-level data that represents a single individual’s identity. If a system isn’t storing customer data at the individual level, it isn’t a CDP.    

For more on identity matching and stitching, read our blog post, “The Role of Identity Resolution in the Customer Data Platform.

FAQ #3: How is a CDP different from a CRM?

For a long time, the CRM system was hailed as the single source for all customer data. However, while CRMs are adept at handling well-structured attribute data, they were not built to ingest and interpret complex behavioral and other unstructured data. There’s so much you can learn about an individual from her behavior across channels. CRMs cannot take in all the data that each website visit, app session, email open, digital ad clickthrough, etc. generates about an individual and then infer what it says about her interests. 

Additionally, CDPs can store data for anonymous visitors, not just known individuals. CRMs can only store data if the person has some kind of identifying information like a name, email address or customer number. 

Therefore, while a CRM can certainly be valuable, particularly in B2B sales and customer success efforts, it’s not suited for handling and making sense of large volumes of “big data” in our digital age. 

For more on the differences between a CDP and CRM, check out Evergage CEO Karl Wirth’s article on Entrepreneur.com, “A Customer Data Platform Picks Up Where CRM Leaves Off.” 

FAQ #4: How is a CDP different from a DMP?

There can be overlap between CDPs and DMPs depending on the specific system, but there are some clear differences. Typically, a DMP collects data from second- or third-party sources and contains only non-personally identifying (non-PII) information such as cookies, IP addresses and device IDs. Leveraging DMP data, businesses can segment website visitors or app users based on information gleaned about them from other parts of the internet such as their demographic information or in-market intent — primarily to use for paid media efforts. 

A CDP, on the other hand, brings all customer data together in one place no matter whether that data is first, second or third party. CDP data can be used for targeted advertising as well, but it goes much further; it can also be used in analysis to better understand customers, as well as deliver personalized experiences across other channels.

The distinction can get a little hazy because some CDPs and DMPs natively track their own first-party data as well, but the biggest difference is that the DMP is not meant to be a single source of truth for all customer data. And of course, as that single source of truth, CDPs can take in and use DMP data. 

For more on the differences between CDPs and DMPs, read our blog post, “CDP vs. DMP: What’s the Difference and How Do You Use Both?” 

FAQ #5: Are CDPs relevant to B2B companies?

Much of the conversation around CDPs is focused on B2C companies, especially retailers who are frequently turning to CDPs as a solution to their omnichannel challenges. But the goal of fully understanding customers is not unique to retailers. It’s something all companies across industries care about. 

Forrester Research recently published a report analyzing CDP vendors, specifically covering the B2B market, called The Forrester New WaveTM: B2B Customer Data Platforms, Q2 2019 (Forrester login required for download or for purchase). In the report, Forrester referred to the B2B CDP landscape as a “classic emerging market.” It’s in its early stages, but there’s rapidly developing interest there. It’s clear that CDPs aren’t just for B2C companies.

For more insight on B2B CDPs, check out our blog post about the Forrester report

FAQ #6: What do I do with the data in my CDP?

A CDP should be able to make the data it aggregates available for analysis purposes and to take action on (often referred to as “activation”).

For analysis, once you have all customer data together in one place, you can dive into it to uncover key differences in customer segments, learn more about how customers respond to different promotions, and much more to answer any questions about your customers and prospects that you may have.

Activation can take many different forms. Generally speaking, though, it’s about acting on the data and insights in the CDP to improve customer experiences or marketing effectiveness. Personalization, the act of tailoring an experience based on what you’ve learned about an individual, is one of the most common forms of activation. Our perspective is that if you’ve gone through the trouble of bringing in and interpreting all your customer data in a CDP, you should be able to use that information to execute highly effective activation campaigns — whether the CDP executes such campaigns itself, or triggers actions in other systems. 

For more information on the role of the CDP in activation, read our blog post, “The Importance of Data Activation in Your CDP Strategy.” 

FAQ #6: Should my CDP be able to personalize? 

If your goal is to deliver more relevant and effective customer and prospect experiences, you need both insights and engagement. In this context, a system of insight aggregates customer/prospect data and enables analysis of that data (i.e., a CDP), while a system of engagement delivers experiences to customers/prospects in one or more channels and enables measurement of the outcomes.

Some businesses split this functionality across two or more solutions: they’ll purchase a CDP as a system of insight first and a separate system of engagement like a personalization solution later on. But in order to select the most relevant experience at the individual level and do it in real time, the system of engagement needs access to all of the customer data in the system of insight. That’s why we believe your CDP should be both a system of insight and a system of engagement. 

At Evergage, we’ve been working with clients on their personalization initiatives since the platform’s launch in 2012, and we have found that the only way to deliver maximally relevant, personalized experiences at the individual level, in real time, is by also serving as the system of insight. That’s why Evergage has been a unified personalization and customer data platform since inception.

For a deeper explanation of the value of a unified solution (including a helpful, illustrative example), read our blog post, “When One > Two: Why Choose a CDP that’s a System of Insight and Engagement.” 

Final Thoughts

As you conduct your search for a CDP and go through the set-up process, always keep your ultimate goal in mind. More often than not, the goal is activation and personalization, not just analysis and insights. 

CDPs are getting a lot of press right now, but it’s never a good idea to invest in technology just because it’s trendy. Be sure you know what you want to accomplish with a CDP and then pick and implement one that will best serve your needs. 

To learn more about the Evergage platform and how it may be able to address your organization’s CDP needs, request a demo today.

Andy Zimmerman
How to Create an Effective Pop-Up Message https://www.evergage.com/blog/create-effective-pop-message/ Fri, 28 Jun 2019 14:10:42 +0000 http://evergage.com/?p=7386

Keep on reading: How to Create an Effective Pop-Up Message]]>

When I hear the term “pop-up message,” I’m immediately brought back my early days using the internet where ubiquitous pop-up ads were a constant nuisance. It was only a matter of time before pop-up blockers became must-haves to save us from the clutter.

I think we can all agree that (thankfully) the internet has come a long way since then. Pop-ups may occasionally carry a negative connotation, but marketers continue to use them to convey messages and drive action on their websites. When done well, a pop-up message can be an effective way to catch someone’s attention. But proceed with caution — because when done poorly, a pop-up can create a bad experience that annoys visitors and drives them away.   

In this post, I’ll get into the tactics of building a successful pop-up message that informs rather than annoys. This is a continuation of a previous blog post, “The Secret to Pleasant Pop-Ups.” Read that one for a more high-level discussion of how to think about pop-up messages on your website. In this one, I get into more specific details and provide tactical advice. 

Figure out your goals and draft a succinct message

As with everything you add to your site, you should have a reason for doing it. A pop-up message disrupts the visitor’s experience, so you don’t want to use one without good reason. Think through your goals in advance. Are you hoping to drive newsletter sign-ups? Reduce cart abandonment? Raise awareness for a new product? 

Then ask yourself: is this message ideally suited to a pop-up, or would a different tactic or format work best? 

Once you’ve decided that a situation calls for a pop-up, draft your message. Focus on keeping the copy brief — everything you add should be in service of driving visitors to complete the goal you identified. Think through the various elements that will need to be included in the pop-up message. Will you need a short form? A CTA button? What will the CTA button say? This process will help you make decisions later on. 

pop-up message

In this pop-up message, the copy is brief and every element serves to drive visitors to enter the giveaway.

Nail the design

Once you have firmed up your copy and made decisions on forms, buttons, etc., you can turn your attention to the design. In an ideal situation, you’d use your template library to find the template that best suits your needs. If you don’t have a template library, now’s a good time to start thinking about one. You don’t want to start from scratch each time you build a pop-up, and you want all your messages to look consistent with each other and match your company’s branding.

To start, consider the grid system of your website and use that system to come up with a few sizes that will fit your needs going forward. If you’re not sure how to do that, “3 Steps to Design Consistency for Your Personalized Experiences” provides a good foundation.  

pop-up sizes

A 3:2 aspect ratio may work for large pop-ups, while a medium pop-up might work better at a 3:1 aspect ratio. Try various content layouts to find what works best.

Next, design a few templates leveraging your brand guidelines (colors, fonts, imagery, etc.) in a few different sizes so you’ll have a good library to pull from in the future. Think about your needs surrounding images, shorter copy, longer copy, forms, etc. 

Here are a few examples:

pop-up templates

Templates can help you establish design consistency and work more efficiently.

If you already have some templates to pull from, pick the one that best suits your current needs. Work within the template to create something eye-catching that’s consistent with your site’s overall look and feel. 

Leverage relevant, personalized content

One of the best ways you can minimize the disruption of a pop-up is to deliver a message that’s relevant to your visitors — one they won’t mind being interrupted for. This means tailoring the content of your pop-up to each person — either by including relevant information or removing the pop-up completely if the CTA is irrelevant to the individual. 

For example, you could use a pop-up message to:

  • Recommend a blog post that a reader should view after her first one to drive her further into your blog catalog
  • Encourage visitors who are about to leave your site to return to a product they liked during their session
  • Ask visitors to sign up for your newsletter after they have engaged with a certain number of pages or spent a certain amount of time on your site
  • Ask visitors who haven’t already downloaded your mobile app to do so

You can use rules or algorithms to accomplish such personalization. With rules, you manually select a message, product, content asset, etc. to display to anyone that meets some predetermined criteria. For example, if you wanted to use a pop-up to encourage visitors to sign up for your loyalty program, you would set a rule to show the message only to visitors who aren’t already members. 

Machine-learning algorithms can sift through all the information you have about a person to pick the most relevant experience for her. For example, if you wanted to feature a content asset or product she is most likely to be interested in, an algorithm could pick it for you in real time based on all you know about her interests and preferences. 

When you use information you know about each person (either known or anonymous), you can assure visitors feel your pop-up message is worth the disruption. 

Find your placement

Once your pop-up is ready to go, think about where on the page your message should appear. Think back to your goals. 

Do you want to completely restrict a visitor’s access to the rest of your site and focus all of their attention on the pop-up? Then you’ll want to center the pop-up and even gray out the rest of the page with a lightbox effect. Zumiez did just that to focus people’s attention on its pop-up message to drive sign-ups to its loyalty program.

pop-up message

This large pop-up features a lightbox effect to focus the visitor’s attention on the pop-up. The message contains a background image likely to appeal to the Zumiez target audience, while the main elements appear contrasted against in the dark background in a bright color.

If you don’t want to take over the entire page, you could consider displaying the pop-up just in the corner of the screen.

For example, at Evergage we provide a pop-up that slides in to recommend blog posts to blog readers. The slide-in message suggests the most recent blog post in the category the person has spent the most time viewing, but that they haven’t already read. Note that this one is much smaller than the Zumiez pop-up, as we don’t want to stop the visitor from reading the article behind it. We just want to encourage her to continue reading more articles when she’s done. 

pop-up message

This small pop-up message recommends a relevant blog article to Evergage blog readers. The message features minimal copy and a small image to minimize disruption.

Ultimately, the level of disruption you incorporate into pop-up experiences depends on your goals and the type of experience you’d like to deliver.

Pick your moment

Finally, you need to consider your timing. The moment your message appears will have a huge impact on how well (or how poorly) the message is received. Many websites deliver a pop-up message the second a visitor lands on the site. That may be effective at catching attention, but does it really provide a good experience? It probably doesn’t.

When it comes to pop-up message timing, there is no easy answer. Your timing should depend on what you’re promoting or what action you’re trying to drive. For example, it doesn’t make sense to ask visitors if they want a demo of your SaaS product the very first second they visit your site. They’ll likely be more receptive after they have read through a few pages first. But if you offer content behind a paywall and a visitor lands on a page they are not allowed to access, a pop-up that immediately appears to explain the situation will make sense.

You can choose to serve pop-up messages based on a number of different criteria, including: 

  • The amount of time a person has spent on a specific page or in total on the site
  • The number of pages she has explored
  • Whether she has taken or not taken a certain action
  • How far down a page she has scrolled (for example, that Evergage blog message I described in the previous section displays based on scrolling) 

When you pick your moment based on time spent or behaviors demonstrated, you’ll be more likely to catch your visitor at the right moment. 

Final thoughts

A pop-up message is just one type of experience you can serve your website visitors. There are many different ways to communicate across a website with both generic and personalized experiences. And while pop-ups can certainly be effective, they should never be overused. Consider whether your message truly calls for a pop-up, or if another type of experience may serve you better.

To learn more about how Evergage can help you deliver personalized content in your pop-up messages and through many other experiences across channels, request a demo today. 

Katie Sweet
Innovations in B2B Marketing: Demand Generation Trends to Watch https://www.evergage.com/blog/innovations-in-b2b-marketing-demand-generation-trends-to-watch/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 13:40:27 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=50705

Keep on reading: Innovations in B2B Marketing: Demand Generation Trends to Watch]]>

Think for a second about how you conduct research as a business buyer. Would you say it’s dramatically different from the way you conduct research as a consumer? If I were shopping for a new martech solution for the Evergage marketing team to use, for example, I’ll probably either start with a Google search, or I’d go directly to a few vendor sites that were already top-of-mind for me. And if I were shopping for a new ceiling fan for my living room, I’d either start with a Google search or go directly to the Home Depot or Lowes website. In other words, I’d approach my research in a very similar way. Of course, there will be a few key differences in how I think about making a business vs. personal purchase, but I don’t fundamentally change who I am as a person when I shop for things in my business life. 

While B2B marketing may get a bad rap as “boring” sometimes, the truth is that any B2B marketing program that’s boring is behind the times. B2B marketers have had to keep evolving and innovating just as their B2C counterparts have — because business buyers are consumers too.

To help B2B marketers identify areas for innovation, we recently hosted a webinar titled “Innovations in B2B Marketing: 5 Demand Generation Trends to Watch.” In it, Jessie Johnson, Research Director, Demand Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions, and Dave Parsons, Senior Customer Success Director at Evergage, walked through five key trends: buyer enablement, interconnected tactic mix, media optimization, artificial intelligence (AI) and experimentation culture. 

I’ll briefly describe two of those trends in this blog post, but check out the webinar replay for all of the details!

Media Optimization

Digital advertising plays an important role in marketing programs across industries. It’s one of the key tactics marketers use to stay top-of-mind for their audiences.

According to SiriusDecisions: “Innovation in digital media requires a content strategy and audience journey activated through multiple channels and access to first- and third-party data sources to tailor messaging at scale.”

Put in simpler terms, with the targeting technology available today, the quantity of ad impressions no longer matters. It’s the quality of impressions that counts. In the B2B world, that means hitting the right industries, accounts, personas or in-market buyers.

At Evergage, we use segment-based advertising to reach our audience with a relevant message. In one example, we created a segment of visitors who have demonstrated interest in Evergage (as indicated by their past browsing behavior on our website), but have not spoken to a salesperson. We target them on LinkedIn with an ad asking them to “get a demo.” 

demand generation trends

Digital ads targeted to past website visitors who have demonstrated an interest in Evergage but have not requested a demo.

This innovation in targeting is essential to optimize media spend for B2B marketers. Better ad targeting allows them to reach prospects with relevant content, as well as optimize media spend.

Artificial Intelligence

“Artificial intelligence” (AI) has been a major buzzword in the marketing world for the past few years. But it’s not just buzz, SiriusDecisions’ 2018 Global CMO Study found that nearly a third (31%) of organizations are prioritizing AI implementation in the next two years.

According to SiriusDecisions: “Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible to know the b-to-b buyer like never before and to answer critical questions about who the buyer is and what attracts and engages that buyer.” 

With that in mind, one of the easiest ways to leverage AI in your marketing efforts is through machine learning-driven recommendations. There’s a lot of information you’re collecting about your prospects all the time including how they interact with your website, how they engage with your emails, etc. Machine learning can synthesize all of that information to select the most relevant piece of content for an individual. 

In other words, machine learning can take all you know about a person and use it to deliver a better experience.

Nuxeo is a good example of this. Its machine learning-driven content recommendations have led to a 34% lift in blog engagement among visitors — defined as reading two or more blog posts after seeing the recommendations.

demand generation trends

Machine learning-driven recommendations featured at the bottom of each blog post have led to a 34% lift in blog engagement for Nuxeo.

Most B2B marketers have particular blog posts or other content they want to be seen by certain prospects. Innovations in AI and machine learning can make this possible. 

Final Thoughts

Every marketer must be constantly innovating to keep up with changing buyer expectations and evolving technology capabilities. 

I’ve outlined two demand generation trends to watch in this blog post, but be sure to watch the full webinar replay for more on these and three more! 

And to discover how Evergage can help you capitalize on these trends, request a demo today.

Katie Sweet
Debunking 2 Common Personalization Misconceptions https://www.evergage.com/blog/debunking-2-common-personalization-misconceptions/ Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:15:30 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=50543

Keep on reading: Debunking 2 Common Personalization Misconceptions]]>

Most marketers believe in the benefits of personalization. They agree that their customers expect personalization and that if they delivered more relevant experiences, they would increase their bottom line.

Yet many people I speak with are still providing static experiences to their prospects and customers. The most common responses I receive when I ask why are: (i) the majority of their traffic is anonymous and therefore personalization won’t be effective and (ii) they do not have the necessary resources to dedicate to personalization. These reasons may have been valid in the past, but they no longer hold up in the age of machine learning.

In this blog post, I will explain how you can use everything you know about each website visitor, even if they are first-time and/or anonymous visitors, to automatically select the optimal experience in the most efficient manner possible.

There is No Such Thing as a “Zero Data” Person

When an anonymous, first-time visitor lands on your website, the welcoming experience can and should be more relevant and effective than the default experience.

A lot can be identified about a person even if you don’t know his identity. Here are a few contextual data points that can be recognized immediately upon a person’s arrival to your site:

  • Browser, device type and operating system
  • Acquisition source and referring domain
  • Geographic location (country, city, state)
    • Weather in that location
    • Time in that location
    • Day of the week
  • (Optional) Third-party data such as demographics, firmographics, in-market shopping behavior, derived affinities/interests, and more that can be provided by a DMP

Wouldn’t this be helpful information for you to use to decide in real time — the second a person arrives to your site — whether to feature sandals or rain gear, vacation or business travel, credit cards or auto insurance?

And that’s just the data you can capture right away. If you’re using Evergage, the moment your visitor starts browsing, more information is being captured, stored and analyzed in real time at the per person level. This data includes things like:

  • Products/pages/content viewed
  • Promotions engaged with or ignored
  • Segment membership
  • Affinity towards your business context (such as product categories, blog topics, etc.)
  • Active time spent browsing in categories, brands, colors, styles, topics, etc.
  • Predictive scores

This type of browsing data is powerful and should factor into which assortment of products, homepage messaging, imagery or content someone should see on your site going forward.

Every piece of real estate on your website holds an opportunity to engage your customers — to help them find exactly what they’re looking for in a sea of options or to discover new and relevant products...all while a person is still anonymous to you.

Thus, even if the majority of your traffic is anonymous, there is still so much that you can know and use about each visitor. If this contextual and browsing behavior is used to help power your welcoming experiences (plus experiences going forward as you learn more), it will lead to a better customer experience and better results.

In order to optimize the effectiveness of this data, you need to have a system that enables you to make real-time decisions at scale that is continuously learning and optimizing.

Time to Shift Your Thinking About the Effort Required

Another common reason companies still aren’t personalizing is because they believe they do not have the necessary resources to dedicate to personalization — even if they believe in the idea.

They may feel this way because when many marketers think about making use of their visitor data for personalization, they only think about rule-based personalization. With this type of personalization, marketers manually select an experience to deliver to a specific group of visitors (such as showing people in New York City urban imagery or urban product trends). This is certainly a valuable way to create relevance. It could be a good way to dip your toes into personalization —  selecting a few predefined segments to speak to. But when you are trying to scale to become individually relevant to each person, there are a few challenges to overcome with a rule-based approach.

First, marketers need to manually create many segments, plus the experiences that correspond to those segments. This process takes up a lot of dedicated resources and can get confusing and hard to manage if you are looking to expand beyond a few core segments.

Second, there’s still a good amount of guesswork involved. How do you know which rules to make? Are you utilizing all the data available most effectively? Which segments do you target? How do you know that the experiences you spent time building actually produce the most optimal experience for each person in that segment?

A rule-based approach is useful, but if you are investing in a solution that only provides this capability or you only use this capability, you aren’t maximizing long-term ROI, because you can’t achieve your dream of offering unique experiences optimized to every individual.

It’s time to shift your thinking away from relying on preset rules and start using machine-learning models. It’s the only way to scale.

Bringing it All Together with Machine Learning

As described above, even if the majority of your website traffic is anonymous, you still know a lot about them. You can certainly leverage rules and segments to act on this data to deliver a more relevant experience to anonymous visitors. But machine learning can make the process more efficient and effective.

Imagine having ten variations of a homepage hero banner (various imagery, promotional content, product promotions, etc). If you wanted to make use of each one using manual segmentation, you would have to define ten or more segments and match up each one with what you think is the most relevant to each segment.

If instead you let an algorithm like Evergage’s Contextual Bandit make the decision for you, all you’d have to do is design the experiences and allow the algorithm to decide which one is optimal for each person based on all the available data — even for a first-time visitor. In addition, Contextual Bandit is always learning to improve its effectiveness — without you needing to take any manual action — and it even factors in the business value of each experience to your company.

Final Thoughts

Personalization doesn’t have to be hard. You want to utilize all the available data, even for anonymous visitors, and make the shift towards machine learning-driven decisioning. It will save you time and resources, eliminate guesswork, help you uncover insights and unlock new opportunities in your mission to provide relevant experiences at the 1-to-1 level while driving more engagement and conversions.

Isaac Brower
Evergage Named a Strong Performer Among B2B Customer Data Platforms https://www.evergage.com/blog/evergage-named-a-strong-performer-among-b2b-customer-data-platforms/ Tue, 18 Jun 2019 13:00:20 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=50267

Keep on reading: Evergage Named a Strong Performer Among B2B Customer Data Platforms]]>

Evergage is excited to announce our inclusion in The Forrester New WaveTM: B2B Customer Data Platforms, Q2 2019 report that was just published today (Forrester login required for download or for purchase). We are particularly pleased to be designated a “Strong Performer” – and were among the 13 top emerging vendors selected for the evaluation. In our opinion, our position is a testament to our overall CDP capabilities and traction with B2B customers.

Here are a few of our takeaways from the report, but I encourage you to download the full report for additional information and context.

The New Wave Focus

Forrester New Wave reports evaluate emerging technologies, based on vendors’ offerings, strategies and market presence, and this latest report is designed to help B2B marketers identify the right CDP vendor for their company. According to Forrester, CDPs “ingest, integrate and store the customer’s first-party data to create rich account and contact profiles that serve as the single source of truth for their marketing technology applications.” The New Wave notes: “Forrester found that the ability to provide third-party data for augmentation and enrichment; develop unified profiles at the account, buying center, and contact levels; and create dynamic segments that trigger automatic activation were the top three differentiators for solutions in this category.”

To effectively cater to each person and organization a company does business with, it needs to aggregate, organize and interpret a wide variety of data. This is one reason why CDPs have become so relevant today. But aggregating customer data is really just the first step in this process. Once the data has been brought together, companies need a way to act on the data in a manner that helps build meaningful relationships with customers and prospects.

The Criteria and Evaluation Process

There’s a lot that goes into organizing and orchestrating customer data across a company’s disparate sources and systems – from data integration, identity resolution and security, to segmentation, machine learning and reporting.

For the purposes of this report, Forrester focused on the following 10 criteria: data sources and types, data management, unified profiles, activation, recommendations, analytics, integrations, product vision, product roadmap and market approach. Participating vendors were included in the report only if they had at least $1M in B2B CDP revenue and offered their solution as a standalone platform. Each vendor also needed to present a two-hour briefing and provide several customer references (who were interviewed by Forrester).

Evergage: Forrester’s Take

The Forrester New WaveTM: B2B Customer Data Platforms ranked each vendor across all 10 criteria using a simple scoring method. A vendor’s capability was rated as “Differentiated,” “On Par” or “Needs Improvement.”

Of the criteria evaluated in the New Wave, Evergage received a “Differentiated” rating in three criteria: Recommendations, Analytics and Integrations. There were no criteria where the analyst felt that Evergage needed improvement.

Forrester’s report also states that “customers praise Evergage’s data management and segmentation capabilities…” and that Evergage “enables real-time activation and offers strong GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] functionality.”

The evaluation criteria also emphasized third-party data, and stated that Evergage customers could benefit from “third-party contact and intent data, for profile enrichment and activation.” With our B2B Detect module, we offer valuable firmographic data based on real-time reverse IP address lookup, right within the platform. For additional data, including third-party intent data, Evergage’s approach is to integrate with any third-party data source a customer wants to utilize. Additionally, we natively offer best-in-class behavioral tracking at both the individual and account level to generate valuable first-party intent data. In our experience working with hundreds of customers, this rich data collected by Evergage has proven to be instrumental for delivering relevant experiences designed to achieve an organization’s key business objectives.

Evergage Differentiators

Like other CDP vendors, Evergage can collect, exchange and synthesize data; create a unified customer profile (UCP) for each individual and account; and provide audience segmentation and predictive insights. But Evergage takes things further by:

  • Natively tracking cross-channel, deep behavioral data at both the individual (known and anonymous) and account level.
  • Using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to determine individual interests and intent, and select optimal content, recommendations and experiences.
  • Activating the data to power real-time personalized experiences across websites, email, web and mobile apps, onsite search, online ads, social media, call centers and in physical branches/locations.
  • Enabling in-depth analysis of the data within the platform, in a separate data warehouse or inside a dedicated cluster using out-of-the-box reporting, business intelligence (BI) tools or Evergage’s data science workbench.

Final Thoughts

In the emerging and competitive landscape of CDP vendors – offering solutions for both B2B and B2C companies – we believe that businesses will ultimately seek vendors that can deliver enterprise-class personalization too. In that respect, we believe Evergage is well-positioned as a CDP of the future. For more on how and why you should take action on your customer and prospect data for personalization and more, I encourage you to check out our blog post, “The Importance of Data Activation in Your CDP Strategy."

Karl Wirth
What is Customer Segmentation? https://www.evergage.com/blog/what-is-customer-segmentation/ Fri, 14 Jun 2019 13:45:19 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=50182

Keep on reading: What is Customer Segmentation?]]>

Since I joined the working world years ago, I’ve tailored the way I describe my job to whomever asks me “so what do you do for a living?” If the person asking is in the martech industry, for example, then I get pretty detailed about my role (content marketing) and what Evergage is (a personalization and customer data platform). But if the person asking is an elderly relative at Thanksgiving? Then I keep it simple by saying I work in marketing, and leave it at that.

What I’m essentially doing is organizing the people I interact with into a few broad categories and figuring out which of my basic elevator pitches is best suited for each group. In other words, I’m using segmentation to pick the message I share.

Customer segmentation has been around for a very long time, so the idea shouldn’t be new to anyone, especially marketers. But the way segments are built and used in today’s digital world is constantly evolving. So I want to give an overview of segmentation in this blog post. What is segmentation? How are segments built? What are they used for? I’ll answer those questions here.

Definition of customer segmentation

Businessdictionary.com defines segmentation as “the process of defining and subdividing a large homogenous market into clearly identifiable segments having similar needs, wants, or demand characteristics.”

To make it simpler, I would say that customer segmentation is about grouping people together based on shared traits.

Of course, I’m using the “customer” in “customer segmentation” as sort of a catch-all. You don’t need to create segments of just your customers. You can segment your prospects or target accounts, anyone in your email list, or even anonymous visitors on your site or mobile app.

Why would you want to create segments as part of your marketing strategy? There are two main reasons: analysis and personalization.

Segmentation for analysis

By using segmentation in analysis, you create groups of individuals to uncover any meaningful differences between them.

Are customers who have installed your mobile app more loyal than those who haven’t? Do enterprise customers and small business customers use your SaaS product in different ways? How do website visitors who convert behave differently from those who don’t?

Those questions can all be answered by creating segments of your customers and prospects and analyzing how they differ. You can then use those insights to guide your marketing efforts going forward.

For example, you can prioritize promotions of your mobile app if you find it produces more loyal customers. You can encourage enterprise and small business users to try different features known to deliver more value for those segments. You can produce content similar to the types of content that leads to more conversions.

When you know how certain groups differ from each other, you can use that information to produce more successful, data-driven marketing campaigns targeted to the right groups of people.

Segmentation for personalization

In addition to informing your marketing strategy, you can also create segments to target them with personalized experiences. You do that by setting up rules to deliver a specific message or experience to a specific segment.

For example, if a person falls into the “located in Boston” segment, then display an infobar message inviting her to an event in the area.

If a person falls into the “loyal customer” segment, then send him an email promoting early access to a sale. 

Let’s return to my examples from the analysis section earlier. If you know you want to promote your mobile app, you can send an email or deliver a message on the website only to those customers who have not yet downloaded it. If you find that enterprise and small business users rely on different product features, you could message each group while they are in the product to encourage them to use the features you’ve identified would lead to success. If you find that people who have converted engage with certain content assets, you can recommend that content to visitors who haven’t converted.

There are so many ways to personalize experiences using segments and rules. To learn more, check out the ungated eBook “The Marketer’s Guide to Machine-Learning vs. Rule-Based Personalization.”

Data for segmentation

But where does the data for segmentation come from? Any customer data you collect in any system in your organization can be used for segmentation.

The data types that likely spring to mind are segments created around attribute data. That includes segments like:

  • Visitors from a certain location
  • Prospects with open opportunities
  • Customers in a certain industry
  • Customers in your loyalty program
  • People in certain demographics or lifecycle stages

These are all segments created around shared attributes.

But don’t forget that you can also create groups of people who have demonstrated certain behaviors as well. For example:

  • Website visitors who have spent more than three minutes on your site in the current session
  • Customers who have opened five or more emails in the last six months
  • Customers who have made a purchase in the last month
  • Prospects who have attended a webinar in the last year
  • Visitors who have demonstrated an interest in a specific topic or product category based on their time spent on the site

These are all segments created around shared behaviors.

Once you have basic segmentation under your belt, you can create narrower and narrower segments by combining different data types together in one segment, such as:

  • Visitors from Florida who have read two or more articles on your blog in the past month
  • Customers in the loyalty program who have demonstrated that “Office Supplies” is their favorite category to shop
  • Existing auto insurance customers who have browsed information on home insurance in the last week

Of course, this type of manual segmentation I have described relies on your ability to identify the segments that will be important to your business. While there are probably several important segments you can list off the top of your head, with all the customer data you have available, there are likely some big differences between some groups that you don’t have the time or ability to identify yourself. That’s where predictive segmentation comes in. With this type of segmentation, you rely on machine learning to sift through all of your customer data to spot meaningful differences between groups of people you may not think to look for.

You can certainly create a number of useful segments without machine learning, but it can help take the guesswork out of segmentation.

Examples of segment-based personalization

Once you have identified your segments, you can use them to target an experience in-the-moment whenever they are on your website, using your mobile app, or logged into your SaaS product; you could send specific emails to these segments; or, you could simply identify a group of individuals for your sales team to target with personal outreach.

Let’s explore some examples of segment-based personalization in action.

A financial services company that tailors its main homepage experience to both prospective customers and current customers leverages segmentation.

customer segmentationSegment: Prospective customers
Experience: Homepage CTA suggests visitor discovers “How It Works”

customer segmentationSegment: Current customers
Experience: Homepage CTA suggests customer “Manage My Account”

A retailer that tailors its homepage to the favorite category of a visitor can use segmentation to do so.

customer segmentationSegment: Shoppers who have previously demonstrated interest in bowling shoes
Experience: Homepage promotion for bowling shoes

A tech company that displays a message specifically to visitors from Charlotte is leveraging segmentation.

customer segmentationSegment: Visitors located around the Charlotte, NC area
Experience: Message promoting local event

A B2B company can leverage segmentation as part of its account-based marketing (ABM) strategy by selecting specific messages, images, content assets, etc. to target to certain industry segments.

customer segmentationSegment: Insurance industry segment
Experience: Insurance-specific content asset promoted in website navigation

Additionally, a retailer that sends an email to customers in its loyalty program who have shown an interest in a specific category can leverage segmentation. A B2B company that targets different digital ads to prospects in different stages of funnel can use segmentation.

All of these are just a few examples, but there are so many more. If you have a specific message or experience you want to display to individuals that meet some pre-established criteria, you have a situation that calls for segmentation.

Final Thoughts

Segmentation is a powerful tool to help you understand and act on differences between groups of your customers, prospects, visitors, app users, etc.

Of course, you can only build and act on segments using data you can access. That’s why the concept of a customer data platform (CDP) is so important. You have customer data scattered across your organization. You need to bring it into a single location in order to build segments from it. Only then can you take action on that data by analyzing it, personalizing with it, or sending it to another system.

To learn how Evergage can help you bring your customer data together, segment it, and activate it to deliver relevant experiences, request a demo today.

Katie Sweet
AOV vs. LTV: Why Customer Lifetime Value Matters More Than You Think https://www.evergage.com/blog/aov-vs-ltv-why-customer-lifetime-value-matters-more-than-you-think/ Tue, 11 Jun 2019 13:30:51 +0000 https://www.evergage.com/?p=50136

Keep on reading: AOV vs. LTV: Why Customer Lifetime Value Matters More Than You Think]]>

Many marketing techniques are focused on increasing the average order value as customers convert on your e-commerce site.

Bundling? Free shipping? Suggested items? They all work toward the same goal: getting customers to buy more with each visit, increasing the average order value (AOV). But what about increasing the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers?

With modern customers increasingly treating e-commerce as a supplement or alternative to traditional retail, e-commerce owners and marketers need to find ways to turn one-time purchases into long-term relationships. It’s not enough to add $35 to a $100 order. Instead, you need to also encourage the brand loyalty that traditional brands often enjoy and the consistent “foot” traffic that traditional retail has long seen.

AOV is about using real-time sales tactics to increase sales volume. In contrast, LTV is about delivering individualized experiences over the long term to keep customers coming back. Let’s jump into why that matters more than you might think — and how both measures can work together.  

Average Order Value: A Short-Term Boost of Revenue

Average order value as a number is straightforward: total revenue divided by the number of orders.

AOV is a good metric to start with as you begin exploring new routes of acquisition and upselling. After all, the higher your order value, the fewer customers you need to convert to reach your revenue goal.

At the same time, in the short term, it gives you more to work with. Higher revenue means you have more budget available to put toward marketing.

But focusing solely on AOV can be limiting. It not only fails to take into account your cost of goods and other expenses, but AOV also limits your view of month-by-month improvements and doesn’t adequately take long-term growth into account.

Lifetime Customer Value: A Long-Term Boost of Profitability

In contrast to AOV, increasing the lifetime value of a customer takes a much larger and long-term view of profitability.

To accurately calculate LTV for your e-commerce business, you need an accurate view of all costs associated with each order: shipping, cost of goods sold, processing fees and average refund rate.

Take that net revenue and multiply it by the customer’s annual purchase frequency and you have customer value. You can then multiply that customer value by the average customer lifespan.

With this method of calculation, you can see that AOV and LTV are actually closely related; order value affects customer value, which affects lifetime value.

The main difference in increasing LTV versus AOV is that lifetime value efforts are focused on organic changes to your interactions with customers.

7 Ways to Maximize LTV for Your eCommerce Business — While Maintaining AOV

It’s not as if AOV and LTV are mutually exclusive metrics for growing your e-commerce business. Both hold important insight into the effectiveness of your marketing and sales efforts.

But if your current focus is solely on AOV, it’s critical to explore ways in which you can bring an LTV approach to your marketing and sales efforts. And if you have been focused on driving long-term value but struggle with increasing order value in the moment, it’s just as important to look at personalization and landing page conversion strategies that will increase AOV.

These are a few tips that hit all the high points.

  • Make brand loyalty a primary business goal. If you start with the question “How can we keep customers coming back?” the potential answers will span marketing, sales, customer service and everything in between.
  • Make marketing channels more efficient. You don’t want your marketing efforts to feel like marketing to current customers. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t efficiently bring customers further down the funnel. Any marketing efforts should add value to customer interactions with your brand — such as birthday wishes and special targeted offers.
  • Make customer feedback a closed loop. Even negative reviews can lead to better ratings if they are handled correctly. Take the time to respond to reviews, find ways to make it right with dissatisfied customers and incorporate feedback into your processes and products.
  • Make personalization a key part of your marketing approach. Personalization is all about making the customer feel known and understood — by design, this keeps them coming back. Think about how to deliver relevant content and experiences across your site, mobile app and email campaigns to treat each shopper as a unique individual.
  • Make customer transactions easy. An easy checkout process will help increase AOV and an easy account creation process should increase LTV, as it gives you a foot in the door for returning customers. It’s as simple as that.
  • Make use of your customer data. From how far down the funnel they make it, to the products they’re interested in, you have customer data at your fingertips. Bring all of this information together into a customer data platform to realize the benefits of acting on data in real time. You should also be using data analysis to assess how each tweak you make — from paid campaigns to personalization — affects your profitability.

Final Thoughts

Increasing both average order value and lifetime customer value requires leveraging one-to-one customer engagement. Personalizing experiences, closing the loop on customer feedback, easing customer transactions — all of these come back to utilizing the customer data you have available.  

While LTV may be the better metric to focus on, AOV is still critically important. And at the heart of incorporating LTV and AOV into your e-commerce marketing and sales efforts is data. You have it at your fingertips, so why not use it?

With the right tools and practices you can use customer data to boost everything from customer engagement to e-commerce profitability.

Brooklin Nash
6 Ways to Create a Great First Touchpoint Experience https://www.evergage.com/blog/six-ways-create-great-first-touchpoint-experience-0/ Thu, 06 Jun 2019 15:00:26 +0000 http://evergage.wpengine.com/?p=5519

Keep on reading: 6 Ways to Create a Great First Touchpoint Experience]]>

We’ve all heard the saying “you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” But how many companies successfully employ this concept when presenting their brand or products to customers for the first time?

Your brand creates expectations for your customer – it defines who you are, how you separate yourself from others, and what value you can offer to your customers. These expectations assure your customers that what they expect will be what they actually experience.

By designing and controlling your first touchpoint experience with customers, you can grab attention and encourage potential customers to keep engaging with you beyond their first interaction.

Here are six ways to ensure your first touchpoint experience with customers is a positive one.

1. Make your message clear

I can’t say how many times I’ve struggled to understand what a company does when reading its website copy or social profiles. I’ve sat there wondering, “Wait, do they sell data? Do they compile data from other sources? Where is the data coming from and what are they doing with it?!” I consider myself a relatively smart individual, so why am I confused? The buzzwords and jargon get in the way.

It can be tempting to rely on buzzwords to make your copy line up with what the industry is talking about, but don’t overdo it. Your audience is human and their attention spans are limited. They’re not going to spend more than a few minutes trying to decipher what you do before they move on.

So be straightforward in your copy and speak using language humans actually want to read. Moz, for example, does a nice job of this.

first touchpoint experience

This advice sounds like it applies only to businesses with a more technical product, but clarity is important in any industry. Pay attention to the words and imagery you use across channels to ensure you’re being clear about your business model, target market, price range, etc. so that prospective customers can quickly identify if they want to keep exploring what your company offers.

2. Share your brand story or unique positioning

Once you’ve nailed the message, you need to get that information in front of your first-time site visitors. Some sites bury their “About Us” information in a menu at the bottom of the page, so there’s no guarantee that people who are new to you — those people that could benefit most from knowing your story — will see it.  

Personalization technology allows you to use rules to deliver any message you’d like to first-time site visitors. Use the opportunity to share what makes you different, in other words, why a person should stay on your site. For example, if you’re a retailer, explain what makes your brand unique and why shoppers should consider making a purchase. If you’re a tech company, explain what you’re an expert in.  

For example, you can display a call-out message indicating your differentiators to new visitors to make sure they don’t miss out.

Your message should be delivered on a visitor’s first page visited, no matter where that is, in a message format that makes sense for your site. Learn more about message formats in “Intro to the 5 Main Types of Personalization Messages and Experiences.”

3. Focus on the user experience, not just the sale

In the last section, I suggested you deliver a potentially interruptive message to a first-time visitor, so now I need to offer some words of caution. How many times have you experienced this situation: You land on a website for the first time. Immediately, you’re greeted with a message to accept the site’s cookies. Once you accept, you face a pop up asking you to join the mailing list. After you decline, you see a second pop up telling you to give feedback, share the article, take a demo, etc. It’s enough to make you forget why you came to the site in the first place!

I won’t call out this company by name, but here’s an example of what not to do.

I’m sure you don’t appreciate experiences like this, so it’s safe to assume your visitors don’t either. As you add different messages and run different campaigns, always keep the end user experience in mind. Read “The Secret to Pleasant Pop Ups” for some guidance on presenting more effective interruptive messages.

Ultimately you need to get your message in front of first-time visitors so you don’t lose them before you impress them, but approach it with caution.

4. Make your homepage personal

Beyond recognizing that someone is a first-time visitor, there are a few other things you may be able to identify. For example, you can immediately recognize her geolocation, referring source, device type or browser type, and with reverse IP lookup, you might be able to identify her firmographic details (if applicable) like company name, industry, company size, and more.

Use this information to deliver a relevant homepage experience — swapping out headlines, images, CTAs, and more — from the very first moment a person arrives at your site.

How you do this will vary dramatically depending on your business and goals. For instance, geolocation can be a powerful data point to use for personalization (as shown in the example below), but it doesn’t make sense for a business without a location-based message to share.

first touchpoint experience

Tailoring your site experience to those pieces of information allows you to show first-time visitors that your website content is relevant to their needs so they continue to explore further.

5. Curate relevant content

Your goal is to help every person on your site find something relevant so they stay longer, dive further into the site, and, ideally, convert (either make a purchase, fill out a form, or whatever way you define conversion). Surfacing helpful content can help you achieve this goal.

Once a person spends time engaging on your site, you should be able to recommend content or products directly related to her interests and in-the-moment intent with machine-learning algorithms. While you don’t have quite enough information about a first-time visitor to do this, you can curate content relevant to some of the data points I referenced in the last section.

One tactic we use at Evergage is aimed at our target accounts as part of our account-based marketing (ABM) program. Whenever a visitor from one of those accounts visits our site, we display an infobar welcoming them to the site and offering them resources we think they would appreciate. If they click it, they’re shown this message with content hand-picked for them.

first touchpoint experience

You can approach your content in a similar way. Figure out what information you can identify immediately. Then think about what content you would like to show those visitors that meet that criteria. If you have a few blog posts or eBooks targeted to different industries, for example, you can display those the second you recognize someone from that industry.

Surfacing relevant content immediately helps you quickly hook a first-time visitor and drive her further into the site.

6. Ask good questions and actually use the answers

You may find occasions when the best way to deliver a good experience is simply to ask someone what they want and actually listen and respond to the answer. In the digital world, survey questions can help with that — when done well, of course.

Think about what information — if you had access to it — would help you provide a better experience to someone interacting with your company for the first time. If you’re a B2C lifestyle brand, maybe it’s a person’s interests or hobbies. If you’re a B2B enterprise technology company, maybe it’s what types of complementary technology a visitor already uses. Figure out one short question you can ask a person that will help you deliver a more relevant experience (we call these your golden questions), and ask it in an unobtrusive way.

Then, most importantly, actually use the response in the moment. Point the visitor to a certain page on your site that can help them with the issue they’re facing, recommend content that addresses their interests, announce a sale in a relevant category, etc.

When done well, like this bank does in the following example, a simple survey question can emulate the human experience of asking for more information about someone and responding in the moment.

Final Thoughts

A good first impression can make the difference between a bounced visitor and a converted customer for life, so don’t neglect this critical component of your marketing strategy. By focusing on your message and user experience, and responding in the moment to inferred and/or explicit data, you can ensure that a person’s first touchpoint experience isn’t their last.

To learn about how Evergage can help you identify first-time visitors and respond to them with relevant messages and experiences, request a demo today.

Katie Sweet