You have undoubtedly noticed that the behaviors of your customers have changed dramatically in recent years. Not only does technology now allow customers to shop whenever they want and from any location, but it also alters how they shop and what motivates them to make a purchase decision.
- Consumers often take a circuitous path along their purchase journey. They may conduct initial research through online searches, visit your social media page, send you an email to ask a question and then visit your competitors' websites. This may be followed by more research to see what other people are posting in online forums before the customer returns to your website or visits your store to make a purchase.
- Your customers may also be motivated to search for your company or product after hearing your radio ad or viewing a television commercial. They might also learn about your product through a "best of" or "innovations in" list in a print or online publication.
- You should never discount the value of word-of-mouth. Perhaps your customer overheard someone discussing your company at a party or at work, read a post about you on a friend's Facebook page or received a phone call from a friend raving about your product.
With so many possible touch-points, how do you know which channels and techniques are working best for you? You have "big data" available, but you still lack the insights necessary to make actionable, reliable decisions. Much of your data exists in siloes that are owned by different departments. Ultimately, many of your decisions are based on a combination of the best information you can access and your "gut feelings," resulting in varying — and unpredictable — results.
If you want to make sense of your data and leverage the information you have collected to understand your customers, you need to harness the power of analytics. To some, the word "analytics" conjures up images of complex mathematical computations and endless, meaningless statistics. When discussing cross-channel analytics, however, the word has a different connotation. It is not about creating huge tables of isolated statistics. Rather, it is about looking at your data to answer specific questions.
- Which channels are providing most of your customer interactions? For example, are they clicking on the links in your emails more than they are clicking on the ads you paid to appear on Facebook? Are customers "tweeting" about your product or posting reviews in online forums? How many purchases on your website are made from mobile devices versus desktop computers?
- Where are your customers coming from? Are they responding to direct mail campaigns or television ads? Are they referred by friends, or do they find you through a search engine? Are they clicking through to your site from a banner ad on someone else's website?
- Based on the percentage of sales generated by the different channels, are you allocating your budget in the best possible manner? To illustrate, if most of your customers are finding you through the search engines, are you funding your SEO efforts sufficiently? At the same time, are you allocating funds to under-performing channels that should be providing more revenue than you are realizing, such as the social media sites?
- Are the KPIs you have in place providing meaningful information? You could be measuring the wrong things or assigning the wrong weights to them.
- Finally — and most importantly — do you have a holistic, real-time view of your customers? Without it, you will still be relying heavily on guesswork. Cross-channel analytics can help you develop an integrated view of your customers to increase your understanding of their behaviors and allow you to reach them more effectively.
Modern businesses must think about how to better engage and interact with their customers. Technology is providing companies with more insight into their customers than ever before, but to use it correctly, you need cross-channel analytics to make these insights actionable. You will need to adapt your processes and business models or create new ones so that you receive dynamic, measurable results. By leveraging the power of cross-channel analytics, you can increase your revenue, expand your share of the market and build a more loyal customer base.