Auditing Your Customer Experience for Better Personalization

Most organizations are now familiar with data in some capacity, but extracting customer insights can still be a challenge. Even those who have mastered data analysis can struggle to meaningfully act on the insights they uncover.

From Mass Marketing to Niche Marketing

The modern organization’s struggle with personalization is understandable - The customer experience wasn’t always a hot topic in business and marketing. Before data, everything was marketed in the same way to all people. Often, this simple strategy of tossing out persuasive ads and hoping they were relevant to someone, somewhere, actually worked. The customer experience was more uniform and predictable, and for the most part, marketers didn’t need to care.

In those days of mass marketing, your niche could be broad. A vacuum salesman’s niche was vacuums, plain and simple. Today, it’s a different story. Consumers have access to millions of businesses on the internet – not just the businesses they live near. A quick Google search, YouTube video, or email campaign can bring dozens of new businesses to the forefront of a customer’s mind. How do they choose?

The first key component of personalizing your customer experience is to carve out a more distinct niche so you can reach the right audience. Everyone has preferences, but you’re only concerned with those of your unique customers.

Customer Expectations are Shifting

One of the biggest reasons organizations must personalize the customer experience is consumer habits and expectations. Advancements in technology have drastically changed the way most people experience ads, research products, shop, and make purchase decisions. Social media, mobile devices, email marketing, ecommerce, and other sweeping trends have contributed to a whole new way of experiencing the world – and that absolutely includes the customer experience.

From start to finish, the typical journey of the consumer has been revolutionized. Most importantly, they have more options and more opportunities to get distracted or confused when interacting with any of your touchpoints. For this reason, personalization is a tall order, but one that you can’t afford to ignore.

Understanding Before Personalizing

As touchpoints multiply, it becomes increasingly difficult to understand each facet of your customer experience. That means we must rely on data to reveal the problems our customers are having, what frustrates them, what makes them happy, etc. These insights are nuanced, but with the right data, general trends begin to emerge. These trends will then illuminate next steps for organizations that are hoping to make themselves more efficient.

Whether it’s the checkout process, email newsletters, or landing pages – personalization must be front and center of the design process. When decisions are made from customer behavior insights, the results of your marketing efforts become more predictable.

Conducting a Personalization Audit

Auditing your customer experience requires attention to detail and finding out exactly what your customers want. To do this continuously, you need relevant data.

“By analyzing data like their ‘add to cart’ rate, page views, product views, or the referral channel bringing them to the website, brands get a much richer profile of their customers’ behavior before creating an experience for them.” source

  1. Track the Customer Experience and Identify Touchpoints

No organization can get far without in-depth knowledge of the customer journey, both online and in person. Look at the path customers travel as they get closer to you. This may start with social media or an ad they click. It may end with them becoming a monthly subscriber to your service, or purchasing a product and then unsubscribing. The customer journey that doesn’t end how you’d like is even more important to analyze. 

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." - Bill Gates

  1. Determine the Significance of Each Touchpoint

Data analytics now allows organizations to weigh the impact of each touchpoint. This helps you know what areas of your website, for example, to place the most focus and effort. It also allows you to see weak touchpoints that customers aren’t meaningfully interacting with so you can improve or remove them.

  1. Identify Silos and Work Toward Integration

“If you have signs that, for instance, your ecommerce programs aren’t syncing with your storefront programs through viable integrations, you know you have a problem. Customers, naturally, expect seamless integrations between digital and physical worlds, and it doesn’t always happen.” - Timothy Burke

  1. Look at Existing Feedback and Resources

Sometimes making improvements doesn’t require a ton of analysis. Consider what questions you often receive from customers. Ask experienced team members what problems or complaints they hear from customers the most. Oftentimes a simple conversation can reveal the low hanging fruit – problems you can resolve with a few quick changes.

Personalization Equals Retention

“Customers always have an experience - good, bad, or indifferent.” - Sachin Datta

When customers feel understood, they have a better experience and they’re much more likely to stick around. This is when breakthroughs happen and retention becomes less of a struggle.

Personalizing the customer experience can be simple – learn about your customer preferences and meet those expectations, over and over. When you move from guesses and assumptions to factual observations, things like poor design choices and customer confusion are less likely to occur.

Get to Know Your Next Customer with Predictive Analytics

You ready yourself for an oncoming storm because predictive analytics advised you it was approaching.


You stand at bat against a pitcher and swing at a certain area of the strike zone because predictive analytics advised you that’s where they’re most likely to throw.


You defend a basketball player and force them to drive left because predictive analytics advised you that’s where they’re weaker.


Predictive analytics are integral to providing a company, an athlete, or a storm-prepper with crucial info to get a forewarning. You use them "to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data." Without them, you're preparing with the storm on the horizon or guessing your way through at-bats and defensive possessions.


They're a necessity in a digital marketing, where success is contingent on analyzing data, before, during, and after a campaign.


All data analysis begins with predictive analytics; targeting groups based on variables, predicting customer behavior, and recommending certain products and services they’d be most prone to buying.


This is the most important segment of the analytical stage. It’s how and where you find your audience. You can have the Ernest Hemingway of copy and the Basquiat of graphic design on content. It won’t produce nearly the same results without segmenting, predicting, and filtering beforehand.


Utilizing predictive analytics is where retail giants like Amazon and eBay excel. They target groups based on numerous variables, including behavioral clustering, product-based clustering and brand-based clustering.


From there, they evolve from the segmenting phase to the prediction phase, utilizing propensity models. This is where customer behavior is predicted; variables such as engagement likelihood, and their propensity to unsubscribe, convert, or buy.


Then begins the filtering phase. This is where eBay and Amazon earns their notoriety. They’re always seem to know just what you want to buy and when you need it. They know this because of your past buying behavior. It allows those retail giants to predict what you’re likely to buy next will be in the same vein.


And it works.


It comes down to understanding people:


“Knowing the customer type or behavior you want to replicate, the predictive modeling starts with a sample of the consumers you want more of, otherwise known as seed. The predictive model is then able to create an audience that is tailor-made to your business and objectives.”


To reach the point of understanding your customer’s behavior, your predictive model must first identify “consumers based on who they are rather than exclusively focusing on a recent behavioral signal, thus exponentially expanding your pool of potential prospects”, based on the predictive model.


Furthermore, “predictive modeling evaluates all available data to classify the relative importance of each point in identifying your target audience. The resulting formula pinpoints which consumers to target, allowing you to capitalize on both scale and precision.”


The underlying current of predictive analytics is tracking the online behavior that takes them from point A to B. It’s focused on pinpointing who’s most likely to buy, when they are at their most willing to buy, what product or service they’re most likely to buy, and what’s going to prompt them to buy.


Even more important, however, is differentiating between high-value customers and those you might suspect of just browsing. Again, predictive analytics can aid in qualifying and prioritizing leads based on their likelihood to take action.


This is possible by “identifying and acquiring prospects with attributes similar to existing customers”. If your online patterns and behaviors are similar to the majority of customers on that website, you’ll be treated as a high-priority lead.


Here’s an example from Marketing Land on how this works:


“Applying predictive and analytics on a range of digital and offline data sets, we were able to identify just how valuable different online behaviors were to an offline, in-store transaction and activation later in the purchase cycle.

The data told a story with many elements we might have expected: Add-to-cart actions and beginning a checkout process were indeed predictive of an impending offline purchase, and locating a nearby store also showed up as an action predictive of purchasing intent. But browsing device galleries and using the chat feature were among the more valuable actions, and the single most important factor in purchase intent was interacting with the current special offers.”


Sounds like a science experiment, right? You lay out a couple of variables that act as triggers for your candidates and then wait for the results to play out. From this particular experiment, it was clear that offers were the trigger that turned the most potential customers into actual customers.


Notice how many variables were weighed as well. It goes so much further beyond whether or not a potential customer clicks through your ad. It comes down to what type of ad they’re clicking on, what they’re leaving behind in their cart, how far they went out in the checkout process, what they were browsing, and if they were using the chat feature.


The analysts went as far as tracking if their candidates were searching for stores nearby.


Ushering your potential customer is a delicate process that requires extremely precise timing, a task which links back to customer segmentation and leads to personalized messaging.


Predictive analytics also greatly assists in the fact that "73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands that use personal information to make their shopping experiences more relevant." So not only are you helping yourself in the long run, you're also assisting in directly getting sales through re-targeting efforts.


In fact, personalization overall greatly assists in drumming up more sales:


  • "86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions"
  • "45% of online shoppers are more likely to shop on a site that offers personalized recommendations"
  • "40% of consumers buy more from retailers who personalize the shopping experience across channels"
  • "80% of consumers like when retailers emails contain recommended products based on previous purchases"


This shouldn't be surprising. At every juncture of an Amazon transaction, the website is listing 'Top Picks for You' or 'Recommendations for You' or 'Customers who bought this also bought...'". All of these tactics are naturally going to elicit more orders. Your interest is already piqued in your purchase and you're likely excited about it, too.


It's kind of like a checkout line at a grocery store. You think you got everything, but don't you need some gum once you finish eating? And how about one of those magazines with the big headlines to relax with after?


Those weren't put there by accident. Stores analyze their customers' buying habits to see what they were buying at the end of a checkout line. Just like Amazon and eBay places certain recommendations before, during, and after your transactions, it's all based on using predictive analytics to forecast what you're most likely to buy along with that item.


In the same vein as any marketing agency's work, predictive analytics is utilized to get that extra sale that would have never been found without discovering who your customer is and how they behave beforehand.


Slack: Communication at Its Peak

In an increasingly connected world, communication has become king.


Actually it goes beyond simple communication. We're in the age of instant communication, where messages that aren't replied to within minutes are grounds for pestering follow-ups and questioning the recipient's reliability.


It makes one wonder just how patient and thorough our ancestors were. A message sent across an ocean took months to get to the recipient and months to get back, and that's with the off-chance the ship transporting the message actually survived. The messages must have also been extremely detailed, too, seeing as the last thing you'd want to do is forget a detail and have to send a follow-up that was halfway across the Atlantic.


I can imagine it now. A British general asks a higher-ranking officer in England what to do about agitated colonials contemplating war, receives a message 3 months later to ignore it, and then 3 months later another message comes in saying, "You should probably stifle that", only for an all-out war to be in its opening throes.


No, communication was not kind to sudden changes. Fortunately we've evolved and the improvement and accessibility of communication has become a priority. Now sudden changes of thought and perspective can be delivered on a whim, rather than on a ship that may or may not leave your message at the bottom of the ocean.


Communities across the world are now on a path of discovery sharing never-before-learned information about cultures, lifestyles, and ideas. It has its obvious benefits for relationship purposes, but instant communication over short and large distances has become an absolute necessity to the office.


That's where Slack has excelled. This platform, which you may have learned about from their innovative, visually-appealing commercials, has delivered our office with instantaneous and organized messaging that has made us all the more efficient and connected.



Naturally there is an area where you're able to send direct messages to co-workers. However, where Slack really separates itself is its community-building by allowing users to create channels made for specific projects.


For instance, on our version of Slack, we have a channel for each client where we discuss projects and easily upload documents. If we need to get someone's attention, we use the '@' sign and they're alerted via flashing from the website's tab. The same is done for any direct message.


Channels can even be locked to prevent others from finding them. You know, in case any employees out there need a chat room to vent about work.


What's even more impressive about this platform is how you can add a specific image to appear in a channel whenever a certain word or phrase is uttered. There is also an extensive (And I mean EXTENSIVE) catalog of emojis that liven up conversations. As efficient as Slack is, these emojis can derail a day's worth of work.


Nevertheless, it's these little details that separate Slack from pretty much every other social platform I've come across and used at work.


The communicative possibilities stretch as far as your imagination can. We've set up channels for clients, general information about work, and even one devoted to Game of Thrones, which is perfect for non-watchers to avoid hearing about the show and for watchers who missed a recent episode to avoid spoilers.


You can even have different companies set up through Slack even if you're using the same account!


Our productivity and efficiency can't be quantified, but anybody who works here can tell you how Slack has been an absolute benefit to their work life. Its wide-ranging communicative capabilities have made information-sharing, urgent or not, a far more enjoyable and efficient experience.