Five tips for driving digital customer conversations

Five tips for driving digital customer conversations

Today’s changing marketplace increasingly gives consumers control over their brand relationships, including the terms of engagement. Emboldened and empowered by technology, consumers voice their preferences, telling you – implicitly and explicitly – where, when, what, and how often they are willing to engage with your brand.

Perceptive marketers are capitalising on what their customers and prospects are saying as well as to what they’re not saying, but doing. They're combining real-time behaviour information to produce a more detailed, accurate customer profile, moving away from transaction-based tactics such as volume email blasts to interactive ones that are more conversational and continuous.

Many of these brand interactions occur via digital media. That means marketing to a consumer audience that comprises hundreds of thousands of segments.

1. Make sure your customers and prospects hear you
Email bounce rates should be less than 2 percent. See if your email provider scans the refusal message text for key words that explain why it bounced; use the information to update your list and keep it clean, as bounces work against your brand and its associated email deliverability. And watch your bounce mix. More soft than hard bounces means you’re getting more blocks.

2. Make sure your customers and prospects know you and what you want them to do
Studies consistently show higher email open rates are positively correlated to subject lines that are less than 50 characters and contain action words such as “confirm,” “take,” or “reserve.” In addition, you’ll find you get higher open rates when you use words such as “tips” and “guide,” as your recipients are expecting resource materials that may be useful to them.

Don’t include your company name in the subject line, as it already appears as the sender. You’ll save precious subject line real estate for the call-to-action. See if you can get higher open rates than the industry average of 23 percent.

3. Use data to show you know them as a person and target your communications
Use descriptive demographic or self-reported information to influence your creative choices and message tone. For example, a mother with young kids who likes  gardening differs greatly from an empty nester with the same interest. It’s time to get granular and real-time with behavioural data. Use your individual-level web analytic behaviour data to drive variable content in your digital communications.

Capitalise on the varying value of different behaviours, as they may warrant the use of different brand responses. Someone who put a blue dress in her digital shopping cart may be closer to purchase than another who browsed dresses on your ecommerce site.

Send a site visit follow-up email with versioned copy and unique incentives. You’ll increase conversion rates and drive incremental revenue without subsidising a sale that might have happened anyway.

4. Use personalised microsites for clarity and focus
Interactive marketing campaigns with click-throughs to personalised landing pages have double the response and conversion rates of campaigns with a corporate site link. And, because they are more focused and contain key words, microsites increase inclusion rates for online searches.

Make sure you have a default or non-personalised version to render for unknown visitors. Consider other ways to maximise their ability to combat consumer inertia and improve campaign performance: use branded URLs, limit the use of Flash for instant page loads and keep your microsite to a single-action page.

5. Expand performance metrics for actionable insights
Use new dimensions of current measures like open and click-through rates (CTRs) to calculate engagement levels. Add them up for each individual to create frequency values that show each individual’s degree of engagement. And, because the absolute values are a related to the individual’s amount of opportunity (that is, the number of times you presented them a chance to respond) you should create aggregate open and CTR percentage rates. Use your site analytics service and leverage page tagging to monitor engagement.

Use interactive digital conversations to show your marketing agility to meet the demands of today’s marketplace. Your customers will thank you with repeat business and brand loyalty.

Lisa Arthur is chief marketing officer at Aprimo.

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