3 Points to Consider Before Integrating Online Data Across Applications
According to a recent poll my firm conducted of more than 300 retailers, site search, search engine optimization and e-mail marketing are the top three technologies of choice for promoting businesses online.
The same survey revealed that e-commerce companies also are looking to social media tools such as blogs, podcasts and user-generated content to build their brands. At a time when many marketers are cutting back on marketing programs that don't yield high ROI, these technologies, if used to their full extents, can be catalysts for prompting consumers to choose your brand in purchase decisions.
Each of the technologies highlighted in the survey is a great tool for discovering and understanding customers' individual brand preferences and purchasing activities. Using data gleaned from these technologies can be incredibly effective for creating more personalized and targeted messages on a Web site or in product promotions. However, while many marketers have ready access to such data, the Holy Grail for marketers is integrating important details across applications to facilitate even more targeted communications that lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
Integrating online data across applications allows marketers to respond quickly and strategically to customer needs, and helps create a compelling, personalized customer experience. If you're interested in putting the information at your fingertips to work in your marketing efforts but aren't sure where to start, here are a few points to consider:
1. Let the data do the talking. The Web enables you to gather data on just about any permutation of online activity while offering a multitude of options for slicing and dicing that data. Using information from sources such as customer reviews, user communities, and search and purchase behavior can help ensure that future communications with your customers are relevant and actionable.
2. Mix the right solutions. To provide customers with the information they need at the time they're making buying decisions, you need the best possible tools in place. For example, does your site search solution enhance the shopping experience by presenting customers with the most popular merchandise? Can your search and navigation solution directly integrate with other applications, such as e-mail? And can you gather information from search and other applications — such as customer reviews — to help make merchandising decisions and assist marketing efforts such as the creation of promotional banner ads, search marketing or e-mail campaigns?
3. Test your theories. Test the offers you promote based on demographic, geographic and other important data you've compiled to determine what's working and what's not. Once you learn which promotions are performing best, you can further refine your strategies to ensure you're implementing the most targeted campaigns.
If you're not sure what your customers are doing when they're visiting your site, you're missing out on opportunities to capture vital information that can help with future marketing efforts. Culling important facts from tools you're probably already using, and sharing the data across applications, can mean the difference between influencing customers to purchase your products or prompting them to evaluate alternatives.