Malcolm Duckett, VP Marketing & Operations, Speed-Trap, explains how IT can provide answers to those critical customer questions posed by the business.
In the online environment a company not only learns about an individual’s recent purchases, but also about intent, demographics, and current activity.
This information can be used to transform the relevance of customer interaction and support effective cross channel promotion. Yet the majority of organizations are still constrained by poor, irrelevant web analytics and a lack of real-time insight.
With the arrival of online customer data capture (OCDC) solutions, the IT team now has the chance to capture, manage and use online data without compromising the customer’s privacy.
The online channel is a key part of how businesses interact with customers and prospects. As a result, many departments are keen to investigate customers’ behavior, objectives and desires – and are starting to ask IT to deliver the data which answers these questions.
However, the tools the industry has provided to date tend to fall short:. The data provided by web analytics is at best, unreliable, and at worst, completely wrong.
Furthermore, the data is often only available as a download from the service provider’s data centres and hence requires an expensive overnight FTP download processes. As a result the information is typically 24 hours out-of-date, preventing the development of real-time applications.
In addition, the tagging processes used to capture this data are costly to implement and error prone, reinforcing the problems of inaccurate data resources. Organizations typically opt for summarized data, making it impossible to embark upon targeted marketing programmes.
Online Customer Data Capture
There is a growing awareness that web analytics isn’t good enough to meet the growing demand for business-focused online data. Indeed, organizations are now turning towards OCDC systems. These tag-free data capture mechanisms can work with a wide range of online applications, and can be deployed quickly without any back-end integration.
OCDC systems also offer real-time access to customer-structured data to support real-time and cross channel applications; whilst also acting as source data for other in-house systems, enabling the creation of a complete customer view.
This approach transforms the value of online data. Using a web analytics view of customer behaviour, a company knows that a unique visitor visits the site and hits certain pages. The company has evidencethe visitor has looked at three products; added the first two to the basket and then abandoned the purchase. Using traditional analysis techniques, the company would ascertain it had lost the sale of the last purchase – in this case a TV stand at $69.99.
In fact, the out-of-stock product cost a sale nearly 40 times this value – a fact that is discovered using the customer-orientation, analysis and data structures provided by OCDC.
Integrating this data with back-office or customer-history data provides a very different view of this visit, providing better understanding. With this detailed view, the company sees that the visitor – now identified as Simon - was interested in buying a package of items, totalling over $2,700.
He added two high value products to the basket but when he discovered that the final (low value) product to complete his package was out-of-stock, he decided to abandon the sale (and possibly purchase these items from a competitor).
Understanding the impact of the out-of-stock low value item can lead to better stocking policies of critical ‘add-on’ components, to drive business performance.
This ability to analyze online channel processes at the individual’s level increases the value of the warehouse. The even bigger opportunity for the business however, is to take this ‘failure’ and run a re-marketing program to retrieve the lost sale and engender increased customer loyalty.
In this example the business has all the information required to contact Simon directly with a relevant offer. He could be notified when the TV stand comes back into stock and offered a one-click purchase from an e-mail to the package he had selected - perhaps with an extended warranty too.
This way, the online channel drives cross-channel promotions by offering actionable, valuable insight that is driven by the data IT is providing. This data can be exploited to turn this ‘negative’ event into a positive: to generate further business and increased customer loyalty. And this is proven to work, with even the most simple personalization programs driven using OCDC data increasing turnover by 10 or 15 percent.
The online channel is the richest source of data available to a business. But, to date, its business value has been limited. The emergence of OCDC systems is finally making this data accessible for integration into the modern IT infrastructures, and doing this in an affordable and rapidly deployable way.
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