This week, I attended the Forrester Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York, which is a conference that provides research and insight on how to create the most compelling customer experiences in order to grow revenue, retain customers and have those customers recommend your brand. During my stay, I had an opportunity to speak with 20 or so people during an intimate lunch session where I shared how they can optimize their customers’ experiences.

One takeaway was abundantly clear: digital marketers are looking for more conversions and are constantly fine-tuning or re-focusing campaigns in order to increase them. However, it’s important to remember that campaigns are only part of the equation. Repeat business and word of mouth revenue are the bread and butter companies rely on, but those pipelines are built by having the right customer experience and that’s not always driven by single campaigns. Customer experience is essential to creating better digital moments and, in a data-driven world, “trusting your gut” to foster those relationships is no longer a viable option.

So what now? In order to create the right experience, you need to have the right tools to give you the right data to make good decisions.  The end game is optimizing every step of the journey to guide customers along the path to purchase. Through online testing and fine-tuning, marketers can persuade customers to do something, do it again and then – eventually – tell other people to do it. Companies know loyalty matters and the right digital experience is the only way to build that loyalty and capture repeat business.

To do this, there are key processes and tools needed to measure and improve. From segmentation to site testing to content targeting, these processes will allow you to understand user profiles of both past and present purchases, develop the right targeted campaigns and test to refine steps in the digital purchasing process. All of these steps will not just increase conversions, they will build that pipeline of loyal customers who will repeat that process and refer new customers.

I wrapped up our luncheon conversation by outlining a few steps to lay the groundwork for a successful optimization program:

  1. Gather everything you know about your customers to deliver value and relevancy
  2. Deliver the right experiences while customer intent is at its peak
  3. Optimize metrics that matter
  4. Understand the real customer journey and optimize across all channels
  5. Optimize campaigns within your digital channels

Other key takeaways based on feedback included the need to evangelize the value of optimizing customer experiences as well as justifying marketing spend that crosses channel owners and lines of business. Organizational impediments may be the greatest challenge to launching and maintaining continuous programs. That may need to be the subject of a future post!

Have questions or comments about creating the right customer experience? Share them in the comments below or contact us to see how to lay the groundwork for a program that will increase not just conversions, but also loyal customers who will come to your site again and again.