Last time, in Part 1, Mukul analyzed how to acquire customers, which is "The Foundation for Your Web Strategy." Part 2 moves onto the next two steps: serving customers by engaging customer dynamics and growing the client/customer relationship via service, support and said dynamics. read part 1
Serve: Maintaining Engaging Customer Dynamics
Once customers are attracted to a website, the key is to keep visitors engaged, encourage them to prolong their stay and compel them to return. Through ensuring that customers receive the most recent, relevant and interactive content, companies can achieve a greater degree of customer satisfaction and improve the likelihood of building long term loyalty. The expediency of such solutions is particularly vital in financially challenging times.
Searchability is key; one of the critical pain points end users have consistently reported to Frost & Sullivan over the last 10 years has been counter-intuitive, inaccurately labeled and non-navigable webpages. It has been proven that visitors have little patience for poorly designed websites and establish loyalties with sites that are intuitive, easy-to-navigate, well-labeled and provide good searchability.
Metadata tagging and content taxonomy aligned with contextual search capabilities can result in measurably better navigation and search returns on the site, leading to greater customer satisfaction and retention. Reduced click-throughs and accelerated content retrieval are critical not only for meeting business goals, but result in increased user satisfaction. According to Frost & Sullivan research, implementation of effective content management solutions, such as improved metadata tagging, can result in a 5:1 reduction in time spent on the management of media assets while almost doubling customer retention results. These metrics can be leveraged by business managers to justify continued investment in web-based marketing strategies and continuously build on past successes.
Such ongoing investment empowers companies to be consistently agile, versatile and relevant to their customers regardless of market dynamics or economic fluctuations. Companies can thus continuously evolve, moving along the maturity spectrum and providing increasingly engaging, interactive and compelling content and services through their web presence.
Website personalization enables companies to develop one-to-one relationships with their customers, capture and store search histories and personal preferences, adapt to a visitor's needs and offer customized solutions. A well-integrated Web Experience Management (WEM) solution can also allow companies to track customer usage patterns, retain records, build flexible, targeted sites and provide more compelling and informative web experiences.
Specific opt-in and opt-out communication and profile management tools allow customers to interact with a company in a more meaningful way. Websites with bi-directional communications capabilities can also provide consumers with customized search tools, personalized listings, shopping suggestions and focused, targeted advertising.
All of these attributes can significantly increase customer retention, loyalty and return visits.
Web agility enables companies to make uniform and rapid changes to disbursed web properties virtually on-the-fly. WEM solutions can allow a company to adapt its web data to display fluid updates, like stock prices, product descriptions and pricing, advertising campaigns and other dynamic content.
Through the use of content management applications within WEM solutions, companies can effectively store, track and update content in a centralized database, through which changes, processes, workflows and approvals can be monitored and accessed from anywhere by any authorized user.
Frost & Sullivan has seen that companies that properly implement content management strategies can recognize savings of as much as 80% on the cost of man-hours and effort redundancy while significantly improving global content performance and message consistency and, in turn, the customer experience.
Frost & Sullivan's research shows that WEM solutions can have an immediate impact on production costs. For example, if a deployed WEM solution can save one hour of content search per day per user, it can save significant operational costs: If a web content author in a retailer's marketing department costs $200 per hour, fully burdened, the savings can be calculated as $200 per hour x 250 working hours per year = $50,000 in savings every year. And that is for just one knowledge worker with one function; it does not account for the additional productivity gained from applying those 250 extra hours toward alternative tasks such as faster reaction time to online customer requests and questions!
Grow: Applying Customer Engagement and Service to Ensure Market Growth
Once companies have engaged visitors through their acquisition strategies and have served them with engaging, personalized and agile websites, they can apply further content management solutions within WEM to grow their performance and cost savings.
In the short run, these direct savings and added efficiencies can increase profits and provide stability through variable economic times. In the long run, these benefits can allow for further expansion and enhancement of web properties and build-in a cycle of constant improvement and growth at comparatively little cost. WEM solutions, therefore, are an integral part of any company's short- and long-term growth strategy and technology blueprint.
No matter where a company is currently positioned along the maturity spectrum, there are many options they can consider to build the effectiveness of their web properties, some simple and easy to implement, some that require more commitment, all of which have been proven to result in higher profile websites, increased traffic, better brand recognition and growing revenues. Dynamic and interactive sites are particularly effective at engaging and retaining customers, yet as web strategies further evolve, building in additional features that can entice and excite consumers and grow web presence, companies must move up on the web strategy maturity level.
At the web engagement level, management should implement the more fundamental elements of an effective web experience management program to optimize the quality of a site, implement essential user solutions that capture and retain customer interest, track visitor behavior and integrate some level of interactivity. The essentials of engagement, and getting them right, are imperative to long-term growth strategies.
As a company moves from more basic website design, it is prudent to take a step back and evaluate current strategies and implement best practices to ensure continued customer retention, engagement and growth. All that may be needed are a few key foundational elements that, once implemented, can redirect and refocus future growth The structural guidance and tools available in WEM solutions can ensure immediate and significant returns on investment and can allow companies to continue to invest with confidence in their web properties.
As we have seen, integrating WEM solutions at anytime makes good business sense (perhaps most so during trying economic times) because investment in a WEM solution is not only a good long-term strategy but also has significant near-term benefits. WEM solutions can go a long way in establishing customer loyalty; enhancing customer engagement while driving new sales - all critical success factors within the context of a weak economy.
Mukul Krishna is global director, Digital Media Practice, at Frost & Sullivan. Visit www.frost.com for more information.