How Are Marketers Optimizing the Customer Experience?

March 19, 2015

EconsultancyEnsighten-CX-Optimization-Activities-Mar2015Customer experience has been tabbed marketers’ most exciting opportunity this year, and a new study [download page] from Econsultancy produced in association with Ensighten indeed finds 41% of company marketers to consider customer experience optimization critical, with the vast majority believing this will result in higher engagement and conversion rates. So how are they optimizing the customer experience?

According to the study, based on a survey of 613 marketers (55% of whom are in-house marketers and 70% of whom are based in Europe), almost half of company marketers are thoroughly ensuring complete visitor privacy (47%) and monitoring website performance (47%), with many more at least partially doing so. Of note, the survey separately finds 41% of company respondents agreeing that privacy concerns prevent them from personalizing customer experiences as much as they’d like to, with 29% disagreeing.

Beyond privacy assurances and site monitoring, though, fewer than one-third of company respondents reported thoroughly optimizing other areas, including:

  • Executing website testing and optimization (25%);
  • Speeding up web page load and responsiveness (23%); and
  • Improving visitor retargeting (16%).

(See here for more on what UK consumers and marketers see as the most important elements of the digital experience.)

Meanwhile, company respondents are most likely to be using customer data to optimize the desktop website (83%) experience, while two-thirds optimize email and half their mobile website. Fewer than half are using customer data to optimize search, social and display, which the study’s authors theorize might be “indicative of the isolated attitude organizations are taking towards their CX optimization.” As for offline channels, the call center (68%) experience is the only one to be optimized by a majority of respondents.

The types of data most often collected by company marketers for the purposes of customer experience optimization, according to the study, are behavioral (81%) and transactional (78%), with supply-siders also reporting these to be most popular (though in the reverse order). The analysts note that marketers should try to diversify (fewer than one-third are collecting social and attitudinal data), pointing out that 45% of company respondents aren’t using a single customer profile at all for their applications.

The trouble appears to be that respondents are having difficulties collecting and analyzing the data. For example, company respondents were more likely to say they had a weak than strong capability in a number of areas, including:

  • Collecting user data from CRM, POS and other online data sources (34% vs. 18%);
  • Collecting data about individual website visitors (23% vs. 18%);
  • Analyzing user data that come from different systems (47% vs. 11%); and
  • Integrating user data from different systems into one profile store (45% vs. 9%).

While a majority (51%) said they’re better at collecting data about individual website visitors than they were last year, only about half as many reported being better at collecting user data from CRM, POS and other online data sources.

Overall, 85% agreed that they’re not able to extract the full value from the data sources they have access to, and more than 6 in 10 agreed that they often feel overwhelmed by the volume of incoming data, an issue that has been noted in studies for several years now.

Interestingly, poor marketing technology isn’t too blame, per the survey respondents. And while the state of data quality isn’t getting better, that isn’t the main culprit either. Instead, company marketers are most likely to blame insufficient resources (including budget and staff) for preventing them from optimizing customer experiences as effectively as they’d like to. Given that lack of justification or ROI isn’t a key hindrance, perhaps those resource constraints will change with time…

In other results from the study:

  • Web analytics (93%), CRM/data warehouse (64%) and customer satisfaction surveys (59%) are the top sources from which company marketers are pulling data for customer experience optimization;
  • In-house marketers are most likely to be leveraging attribution (52%) and customer lifetime value (45%) for data modeling, a result that ties back to them estimating that 76% of the data they’re typically using is first-party data;
  • Just 1 in 10 company marketers best describe their data integration as “tied together customer data from multiple channels, technologies and databases,” while 70% best describe it as “started to connect the dots, but have a long way to go;” and
  • One-third of company respondents said they thoroughly leverage customer data to better understand current customer needs and behavior, and 1 in 5 say they thoroughly do so to optimize marketing budget allocations (21%) and marketing mix decisions (18%).

About the Data: There were 613 respondents to the research request, which took the form of an online survey in November and December 2014. Respondents included both companies or in-house marketers (55%) and supply-side respondents, including agencies, consultants and vendors (45%).

The retail (20%) sector was most heavily represented, followed by financial services (13%), media (9%) and technology (8%). Company respondents came from a range of company sizes (in terms of revenue), while agency respondents were more heavily skewed towards smaller companies.

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