Changing customer expectations are transforming the game for marketers and merchandisers, as integrated content and commerce becomes the new status quo. And this transformation is affecting how brands approach their digital initiatives.
According to our research, consumer demands are plentiful. As consumers become more digital, they want access to services quickly, at all hours and across multiple devices, and with personalisation and privacy top of mind.
That demand has sparked a revolution in how brands attack the problem of how to deliver contextually aware, personalised experiences that ultimately drive revenue. The answer lies in the need for brands to have a holistic view of content and commerce to build deeper relationships with their customers that go beyond the individual transaction.
It’s no longer acceptable to draw customers into a beautifully designed brand website, only to abandon them post-transaction with no real intent to deepen the relationship. Brands must understand that building revenue no longer begins and ends in the shopping cart.
Rather, it’s how you communicate with your customers before and after the transaction that drives brand loyalty and customer retention. If you doubt the value of customer retention, consider that a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit.
Beating two-site syndrome
The problem many brands continue to face today is a disconnect between the brand and the transaction. That is, many companies have invested heavily in developing beautiful on-point brand websites only to send their customers to a bland, utilitarian transactional page (sometimes a completely different site) when it comes time to make the sale.
We call that two-site syndrome, and it’s a problem for a number of reasons. Firstly, it completely disrupts the brand experience for your customers. It’s the equivalent of enjoying a faultless experience at a five-star hotel only to be herded into a dingy basement when it comes time to check out and pay the bill.
Think about how that would make you feel. Would it tarnish your experience? Would it make you feel less valued as a customer? Would you return to that hotel?
Two-site syndrome also leads to information silos. When you don’t have an integrated view of content and products in context it leads to gaps in the customer lifecycle. That is, you’ll miss opportunities in the pre- and post-transaction phases, or more dangerously offer irrelevant content that will affect the customer experience and threaten your customer relationships.
Integration in practice
For example, recently a colleague purchased tickets to an Elton John concert. However, following his purchase, the ticket seller began to bombard him with ads about the same Elton John concert. That was of course very annoying for my colleague, but more importantly signalled to him that the ticket seller didn’t know him.
That lack of integration meant that the ticket seller not only paid unnecessary retargeting fees to obtain that same customer they had just sold to, but it also hurt the customer relationship by bombarding him with irrelevant and now annoying content. It also completely missed post-purchase cross-selling opportunities.
On the other hand, with an integrated view of content and commerce, the ticket seller would have understood the customer was in the post-purchase phase. Knowing which phase the customer was in would have allowed the seller to automatically add value to the relationship by offering personalised content such as directions to the concert, reviews of nearby restaurants, or even cross-selling Elton John merchandise to the customer.
It’s all about using integrated content and commerce to create a unique value proposition that delivers on top consumer demands fast access to services, 24/7 connectivity, multi-platform access, personalised customer experiences, and more. Get that right and you’ll get your customer retention rates headed in the right direction.
By Wanda Cadigan, vice president of commerce at Sitecore
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