Thursday Oct 31, 2013

Web Experience Management: Segmentation & Targeting - Chalk Talk with John

Today's post comes from our WebCenter friend, John Brunswick. 

Having trouble getting your arms around the differences between Web Content Management (WCM) and Web Experience Management (WEM)?  Told through story, the video below outlines the differences in an easy to understand manner.

By following the journey of Mr. and Mrs. Smith on their adventure to find the best amusement park in two neighboring towns, we can clearly see what an impact context and relevancy play in our decision making within online channels.  Just as when we search to connect with the best products and services for our needs, the Smiths have their grandchildren coming to visit next week and finding the best park is essential to guarantee a great family vacation.  One town effectively Segments and Targets visitors to enhance their experience, reducing the effort needed to learn about their park.

Have a look below to join the Smiths in their search.

 

 Learn MORE about how you might measure up:

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Thursday Dec 20, 2012

Optimizing the Online Experience with Oracle WebCenter & Oracle Real-Time Decisions

Earlier in the week, we took a closer look at two different approaches to segmentation and targeting, manual and automated. While manual segmentation and targeting gives marketers a great deal of control, this approach can become time consuming and complicated when dealing with high volumes of segments and content. In these situations, automated segmentation, which relies on predictive intelligence, may be an appropriate choice for optimizing your online customer experience.

Oracle’s web experience management solution, WebCenter Sites, already includes robust capabilities for marketer managed segmentation and targeting, however, a whole new level of optimization can be achieved by combining WebCenter Sites with Oracle’s decision management solution, Real-Time Decisions. Using the power of statistical data models and historical and real-time analytics, Real-Time Decisions automates what would otherwise be the manual task of sifting through volumes of customer data, determining likely and potential customer segments, and determining the best content to present to a given site visitor. As customer interactions take place, Real-Time Decisions continuously refines its data models, automatically adjusting and learning over time to achieve the optimal content selection for each site visitor.

Marketers have multiple levels of control when using Real-Time Decisions. They can opt for full automation and let Real-Time Decisions handle all of the decision making. In this case, Real-Time Decisions infers segmentation and uses automation to make decisions about what content to display to the site visitor. Or, marketers can opt for a more controlled approach and specify performance goals that will help steer the Real-Time Decisions model in the direction of desired business objectives such as maximizing revenue or maximizing conversions.

Together, Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions provide marketers with the ability to determine the best approach for realizing their segmentation and targeting objectives, whether that means managing the process manually or by instituting some level of automation. Download this white paper to learn more about how WebCenter Sites and Real-Time Decisions combine to create a truly powerful solution for optimizing the online customer experience to meet your business objectives.

Wednesday Dec 19, 2012

Defining Your Online Segmentation and Targeting Strategy

A lot of times, companies will put online segmentation and targeting on the back burner because they don’t know where to start. Often, I’ve heard web managers say that their segments aren’t well understood yet, so they can’t really deliver personalized online experiences that are meaningful. This lack of complete understanding means that they don't really bother to try. But, I don’t think you necessarily need to have an elaborate segmentation and targeting strategy already in place to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience. Sometimes it helps to think of how segmentation and targeting might solve some of the challenges your sites visitors are currently experiencing on your web presence, rather than doing nothing and waiting until a fully baked segmentation strategy lands in your inbox. 

For example, perhaps you have a broad and varied service offering that makes it difficult for site visitors to easily find the solutions that are most relevant for them.  How can segmentation and targeting help solve this problem?  Or maybe it’s like the airline I described in Monday’s post where the special deals featured on the home page are only relevant to site visitors from a couple of cities.  Couldn’t segmentation and targeting help them to highlight offers on their home page that are relevant to a larger share of their site visitors?


Your early segmentation and targeting efforts do not need to be complicated.  There are simple ways to start delivering a more relevant online customer experience, even if you’re dealing with anonymous site visitors.  These include targeting content to site visitors based on:

  • Referral: Deliver targeted content to your site visitors that is based on where they came from or the search term they used to find your site
  • Behavior:  Deliver content to your site visitors that is related or similar to content they’ve clicked on already
  • Location:  Deliver content your site visitors that is most relevant for their geographic location (this would solve that pesky airline home page problem described above)

So as you can see, there really are some very simple ways in which you can start improving your online customer experience using very basic segmentation and targeting methods. 

One thing to keep in mind as you start to define you segmentation and targeting strategy is that there are many different types of attributes or combinations of attributes upon which you can base your segmentation and targeting strategy.  In addition to referral, behavior and location, other attributes that you should consider are:

  • Profile Information:  What profile information do you know about this customer already?  Perhaps they provided some information on their interests and preferences when they first registered with your site.
  • Time:  What time is it and how does that impact what my site visitors are looking for or trying to do?
  • Demographics: What are my site visitors’ ages, incomes or ethnicities?

Which attributes you select to include in your segmentation strategy will depend on your unique business needs and objectives.  Attributes such as behavior or referral may not be the most important targeting criteria depending on your situation. For example, if you’re a newspaper you might know that certain visitors are sports fans based on their profile information.  You can create a segment for sports fans and target sports related content to that segment of your readership online.  Or perhaps, a reader is browsing stories that are related to politics; you can use that visitor’s behavior to assign him or her to a segment for those interested in politics. From there you can recommend more stories to that visitor based on their interest in politics. For an airline, the visitor’s location may be a more important attribute. By detecting the visitor’s location, you can assign them to an appropriate segment and then target special flights and offers to them based on their likely departure airport.

As you can see, there are many practical ways that you can start improving the experience your customers receive on your web presence using fairly basic segmentation and targeting techniques. If you want to learn more about segmentation and targeting using Oracle’s web experience management solution, check out this helpful video that demonstrates these powerful capabilities in Oracle WebCenter Sites.

*****

On Demand Webcast Featuring Brian Solis of Altimeter Group

Trends such as the mobile web, social media, gamification and real-time are changing customer behavior and expectations. In this new environment, many businesses will struggle. Some will fall by the wayside, while others learn to adapt and thrive. Watch this on demand webcast with Altimeter Group digital analyst and author, Brian Solis, and discover what your organization needs to know about how to compete in the new era of Digital Darwinism. View now.

Tuesday Dec 18, 2012

Segmentation and Targeting: Your Tools for Personalizing the Online Customer Experience

In order to deliver the kind of personalized and engaging online experiences that customers expect today, look to segmentation and targeting.  Segmentation is the practice of dividing your site visitors into distinct groups based on shared characteristics or behavior – for example, a segment may consist of site visitors who have visited pages related to certain product type, or they may consist of visitors within the same age group or geographic area.  The idea is that those within a segment are more likely to have common needs, problems or interests that can be served by your business. Targeting is the process by which the most relevant content, whether an article promotion or other piece of content, is delivered to your visitors based on their segment membership.

Segmentation and targeting are used to drive greater engagement on your web presence by delivering content to your site visitors that is tailored to their interests, behavior or other attributes.  You may have a number of different goals for your segmentation and targeting efforts:

  • Up-sell or cross-sell to your customers
  • Conduct A/B testing on your offers and creative
  • Offer discounts, promotions or other incentives for the time and duration that you specify
  • Make is easier to find relevant information about products and services
  • Create premium content model
There are two different approaches you can take toward segmentation and targeting for you online customer experience initiatives.

The first is more of a manual process, in which marketers manage the process of determining which segments to create and which content to target to those segments. The benefit of this approach is that it gives marketers a high level of control over the whole process which works well when you have a thorough understanding of your segments and which content is most likely to serve their needs.  Tools for marketer managed segmentation and targeting are often built right in to your WEM platform, as they are with Oracle WebCenter Sites. The downside is that the more segments and content that you have, the more time consuming and complicated in can be to manage manually.

The second approach relies on predictive intelligence to automate the segmentation and targeting process.  This allows optimization of the process to occur in real time. This approach helps reduce the burden of manual segmentation and targeting and can result in new insights into segments that you may never have thought of on your own.  It also provides you with the capability to quickly test new offers and promotions on your site.  Predictive segmentation and targeting can be achieved by using Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions together.

*****

Get a taste for how Oracle WebCenter Sites and Oracle Real-Time Decisions combine to deliver powerful capabilities for predictive segmentation and targeting by watching this on demand webcast introducing Oracle WebCenter Sites 11g or by reading IDC’s take on the latest release of Oracle’s web experience management solution.  Be sure to return to the Oracle WebCenter blog on Thursday for a closer look at how to optimize the online customer experience using these two products together.

Monday Dec 17, 2012

Why It Is So Important to Know Your Customer

Over the years, I endured enough delayed flights, air turbulence and misadventures in airport security clearance to watch my expectations for the air travel experience fall to abysmally low levels. The extent of my loyalty to any one carrier had more to do with the proximity of the airport parking garage to their particular gate than to any effort on the airline’s part to actually earn and retain my business. That all changed one day when I found myself at the airport hoping to catch a return flight home a few hours earlier than expected, using an airline I had flown with for the first time just that week.  

When you travel regularly for business, being able to catch a return flight home that’s even an hour or two earlier than originally scheduled is a big deal. It can mean the difference between having a normal evening with your family and having to sneak in like a cat burglar after everyone is fast asleep. And so I found myself on this particular day hoping to catch an earlier flight home. I approached the gate agent and was told that I could go on standby for their next flight out. Then I asked how much it was going to cost to change the flight, knowing full well that I wouldn’t get reimbursed by my company for any change fees.

“Oh, there’s no charge to fly on standby,” the gate agent told me.

I made a funny look. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. This airline was going to let my fly on standby, at no additional charge, even though I was a new customer with no status or points. It had been years since I’d seen an airline pass up a short term revenue generating opportunity in favor of a long term loyalty generating one.  At that moment, this particular airline gained my loyal business.


Since then, this airline has had the opportunity to learn a lot about me. They know where I live, where I fly from, where I usually fly to, and where I like to sit on the plane. In general, I’ve found their customer service to be quite good whether at the airport, via call center and even through social channels. They email me occasionally, and when they do, they demonstrate that they know me by promoting deals for flights from where I live to places that I’d be interested in visiting. And that’s part of why I’m always so puzzled when I visit their website.

Does this company with the great service, customer friendly policies, and clean planes demonstrate that they know me at all when I visit their website? The answer is no. Even when I log in using my loyalty program credentials, it’s pretty obvious that they’re presenting the same old home page and same old offers to every single one of their site visitors. I mean, those promotional offers that they’re featuring so prominently  -- they’re for flights that originate thousands of miles from where I live! There’s no way I’d ever book one of those flights and I’m sure I’m not the only one of their customers to feel that way.

My reason for recounting this story is not to pick on the one customer experience flaw I've noticed with this particular airline, in fact, they do so many things right that I’ll continue to fly with them. But I did want to illustrate just how glaringly obvious it is to customers today when a touch point they have with a brand is impersonal, unconnected and out of sync. As someone who’s spent a number of years in the web experience management and online marketing space, it particularly peeves me when that out of sync touch point is a brand’s website, perhaps because I know how important it is to make a customer’s online experience relevant and how many powerful tools are available for making a relevant experience a reality.



The fact is, delivering a one-size-fits-all online customer experience is no longer acceptable or particularly effective in today’s world. Today’s savvy customers expect you to know who they are and to understand their preferences, behavior and relationship with your brand. Not only do they expect you to know about them, but they also expect you to demonstrate this knowledge across all of their touch points with your brand in a consistent and compelling fashion, whether it be on your traditional website, your mobile web presence or through various social channels.

Delivering the kind of personalized online experiences that customers want can have tremendous business benefits. This is not just about generating feelings of goodwill and higher customer satisfaction ratings either. More relevant and personalized online experiences boost the effectiveness of online marketing initiatives and the statistics prove this out. Personalized web experiences can help increase online conversion rates by 70% -- that’s a huge number.1  And more than three quarters of consumers indicate that they’ve made additional online purchases based on personalized product recommendations.2

Now if only this airline would get on board with delivering a more personalized online customer experience. I’d certainly be happier and more likely to spring for one of their promotional offers. And by targeting relevant offers on their home page to appropriate segments of their site visitors, I bet they’d be happier and generating additional revenue too.

 *****

If you're interested in hearing more perspectives on the benefits of demonstrating that you know your customers by delivering a more personalized experience, check out this white paper on creating a successful and meaningful customer experience on the web.  Also catch the video below on the business value of CX in attracting new customers featuring Oracle's VP of Customer Experience Strategy, Brian Curran.

1 Search Engine Watch 2 Marketing Charts

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Oracle WebCenter is the center of engagement for business—powering exceptional experiences for customers, partners, and employees. It connects people, process, and information with the most complete portfolio of portal, Web experience management, content, imaging and collaboration technologies.

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