Creating deep, long-term customer relationships is critical to business growth, building and strengthening brand equity. Recent trends in social media suggest that online conversations between customers and brands can effectively build these crucial relationships.
While the Web is an ideal channel for sparking customer dialogue, conversation in and of itself does not necessarily drive brand engagement. Whether the format is an article, a video or a conversation, customers want relevant content and information.
This expectation has led to online personalization and the concept of the “Personal Web.” For brands, personalization means addressing customer’s information needs on a case-by-case basis.
Done right, personalization also allows brands to analyze unique consumer data to continually refine messaging and targeting, as well as improve key site performance metrics -- conversion, abandonment and retention -- increasing online channel effectiveness.
Amazon.com was a Personal Web pioneer, with its content filtering and recommendation engines. Today, new personalization technologies, including social graph mining, are moving the concept forward.
Ultimately, brands must utilize the Personal Web, moving from concept to execution. Here are six steps to realize that goal:
Research customers and their interests.
Apart from demographic segmentation, information regarding source of entry (search, direct, click-through), Web history and social graph can be extremely valuable in tailoring one-to-one experiences. Invest in new tools and applications to better understand customer preferences and behaviors.
Dynamic pages, not static.
While your brand message is important, deliver it in a way that resonates with each consumer, based on how they learn, interact and seek information. Use dynamic insertion and recommendations that rotate content, leverage text, video and audio, while avoiding static, pre-built pages. The result is a more visitor-friendly site, more opportunities to connect with consumers and a greater chance to fine-tune personalization.
Contribution, participation engenders belonging.
Participation can be indirect and passive, or direct and active; both types have value. Using action-oriented titles, add a conversational tone to your text and incorporate links to podcasts and video blogs to encourage indirect participation. Spark direct participation by asking about customers’ opinions or letting them create or rate products or take polls.
Don’t make it hard to find content.
Be it messaging, product information, how-to articles or FAQs, relevant content fuels engagement. Be the main source of information about your brand; consider providing complimentary informational and/or interest-focused content around your products and services. If this content isn’t easy to find, you’ll likely experience high bounce rates. Invest in intelligent organization architecture, and better/smarter search and dynamic formats like Q&A.
Content targeting increases relevance.
Thanks to cookies, advertisers can serve targeted ads based on search history, location, social sharing and even emails. This same technology lets you deliver targeted content that appeals to customer preferences, interests and needs.
Set up communities around common interests.
Passion around a topic or interest stimulates conversation and engagement and provides opportunities for customers to unite around them. This can lead to positive brand associations. Move beyond message boards by utilizing sophisticated, intuitive, real-time discussion platforms that seamlessly interact with content.
The Personal Web is an essential component of building meaningful customer relationships. The most effective brands will strategically weave personalization into their online strategy, benefiting themselves and their customers.