Understanding customer behavior — truly
understanding it — has never been more
important for businesses and their marketing
teams than it is today.
The economic downturn has
forced companies to use their resources
more efficiently and become much more
targeted and timely with their efforts to connect
with customers. Adding to the challenge,
customers have become even more discerning about
how and where they spend their time and money.
To create positive and meaningful connections with
customers and earn their repeat business, today’s businesses
need deep insight into customer attitudes. To
gain this knowledge, leading organizations are harnessing
the power of the Web and turning their websites
into customer intelligence tools. This critical transformation
involves the following phased approach:
Creating different types of Web experiences: This
means keeping your website fresh and engaging at all
times, by experimenting with Web page designs,
product offers and descriptions, dynamic features, and
content order and flow. In short, give people a reason
to visit your site, stay and explore, act on something
(make a purchase, register for your site, or engage in
your community) and then come back again later to
see what’s new.
Leveraging information about different target
customer groups: Doing business successfully on
the Web requires an increasingly personal website
experience for your customers. That is, when they are engaging with your site, they should feel like it’s all
about them, not about you or what your business can
sell them. Customer groups are defined by profiles,
geographic location or other target segments.
Tracking and measuring impact: Constantly track
what happens with your website and the content you
deliver, then compare the results against alternative
options. Your website is a critical tool that can help
connect the underlying dots with customer behavior;
how a visitor first arrived at your site, what content he
or she browsed (and in which order), and what difference
a new or changed piece of content made.
By transforming your website into a customer intelligence
tool, you can tap into your customers’ attitudes
and gain a 360-degree view of who they are,
what they like, what they need and why they came to
you. This knowledge is what will truly allow you to
deliver a meaningful online experience to your customers
and earn their loyalty.
The following are four essential tips for learning
more about your customers’ behavior to fulfill the previously
described phases of customer intelligence:
1.Identify customer pain points
The way people behave in the Web world generally
mirrors how they behave in the physical world.
When shopping online for clothes, for example, they
stop to browse items just as they would in a traditional
retail store. As they browse, a great deal can be learned
about their interests and preferences — from the colors
they like to the styles that grab their attention.
When visitors come to your website, you need to be
able to respond to their individual “pain points.” These
are the problems they must solve or the need they must
fill, and to do so with the same degree of sensitivity and
accuracy as you would in the physical world.
2. Understand when a prospect is ready
It is likely that visitors to your website are already very
knowledgeable about your business and brand, as
well as the available alternatives, because they took
time to carry out initial research on the Internet and
maybe offline, too. They’re smart, which means you
need to be smarter — as well as relevant — and
quickly establish yourself as an authority in their area
The website has become the first step in the customer
engagement process. It can tell you what your
customers want, and it also serves as a platform for
you to interact with them intelligently. If a customer
looks at the price of an item, for instance, this may be
a buying signal and it shows that the individual is trying
to qualify you in or out of their selection process.
3. Weigh and score your leads
Every piece of content on your website can reveal
something about your customer; from what they care
about to where they are in the buying process. To gain
this level of insight, all of your content needs to be
allocated a score or weight. This enables “lead scoring”
— the process of calculating a visitor’s propensity
and readiness to buy based on the total score
produced by his or her behavior while spending time
on your website.
Each time a customer reads a piece of content, or
views a particular image, you are able to build a more
complete picture of that individual’s attitudes and interests.
By tracking the user back to a Web forum, or
using their Internet address to determine their location
or their organization, you may be able to work
out even more detail. And by tying all of this information
together, you get a lead score that measures
the level of the user’s intent to purchase.
Another key benefit to tracking lead scores: It increases
the possibility of creating agreement between
marketing and sales teams about what constitutes a
qualified lead. Not only will this help to smooth —
and hopefully, strengthen — the relationship between
marketing and sales, it will make a big impression on
your customers. You can also provide your sales team
with reams of valuable and timely data about customer
interests and concerns.
4. Harness attitudinal data and track success
How visitors interact with your website — especially
if they begin making repeat visits or take time to complete
a profile form — can provide a wealth of knowledge
about attitudes and behavior that must be shared
with other databases, including customer relationship
management (CRM) systems. Associating real-time
customer interactions with other management data,
such as call center data and other offline interactions
typically held in your customer relationship databases,
is also vital. By connecting Web insights with
your other customer management systems, you can
track lead-to-win-ratios, analyze interactions with
successful outcomes and replicate that success.
Harvesting attitudinal data also allows you to start
personalizing interactive experiences that build on the
insights gained from customers’ responses to Web
content to deliver optimal business results. You
should be able to fine-tune messages and content on
your website for different customer groups, so you
continually improve their online experience. And
once you are armed with the information provided by
what may evolve into your most important customer
intelligence tool — your website — your organization
can build more effective marketing campaigns and
stronger customer relationships.
About the Author: Darren Guarnaccia is the vice president of marketing
for Sitecore. Sitecore provides Web content management
software (CMS) and portal software for organizations to
create compelling website experiences.