When it comes to marketing technology, 2017 was a year defined by big data. For both marketers and retailers, the most influential technologies available were those that used customer – and even employee – data to improve experiences and make marketing smarter, more streamlined, and ultimately a more profitable venture.
Now, in 2018, the excitement that surrounded big data has worn off. While there is no denying that data is still defining the customer experience, the reality is that every retailer is now using data to shape its outreach and marketing approach. Unfortunately, simply analyzing shopper data may not be enough anymore. As companies that excel in customer experience grow 4 – 8% above their market, the need for brands to develop a truly in-depth understanding of their customers has never been more important.
What will define 2018 are those tools and technologies that look beyond big data and start to develop much more fluid, qualitative, and ultimately human insights into how and why people shop.
Rather than simply incorporating quantitative details or asking customers to fill in forms, online retailers must start to analyze the subtle trends between their traditional data sets. In the same way that a shop assistant would have noticed a customer’s intent in-store, and responded accordingly, retail apps and ecommerce sites must start to do the same.
At the heart of this ability will be Experience Analytics technologies. These could include everything from eye tracking to click paths, to heatmaps and session replays. Through Experience Analytics, retailers can analyze their customers’ mouse movements and behaviors throughout an app, mobile site, or online store, noting the features that are deemed helpful, and those that are considered frustrating.
While there are already plenty of retailers that monitor basic concepts such as entry and exit pages, the rise of Experience Analytics is set to take this to an entirely new level – uncovering never-before seen insights into consumer shopping moods and mindsets. By feeding this data back into their customer journeys, websites, and app designs, retailers can start to build clearer, better and more-intuitive customer experiences. These experiences can in turn help to improve customer loyalty, with research suggesting that loyal customers are 5 times as likely to repurchase.
The only question is, are these metrics even still the best way for marketers to measure their success in an age of ‘Experience Analytics’?
For years, marketers and retailers have focused a huge amount of energy on driving and improving conversion rates. While conversion will remain an important metric, the reality is that the new Experience Analytics technologies are allowing retailers to relax their once laser-sharp focus on conversion rates.
As these platforms grow increasingly advanced, conversion will no longer be seen as the be-all-and-end-all of measuring success. For marketers interested in experiences, conversion represents only a tiny, one-dimensional piece of data in a world that’s huge and three-dimensional. For every customer who comes to a site and converts, there could be three dozen more who come, get frustrated by a confusing call to action button or overwhelmed by a complicated search feature, and, as a result, close the browser and never return.
The fact is that retailers and marketers like conversion rates because they are clear, quantitative and, ultimately, easy to track. In the real world however, consumers are messy, complex, and often erratic in their decision making. What helps secure a conversion once may have a completely different effect on the second or third attempt – depending entirely on the consumer’s mood at the time.
Research has shown that consumers who encounter positive customer experiences are three times more likely to recommend a brand; in order to achieve such a positive experience however, retailers must stop trying to see customers as numbers on a spreadsheet and instead treat them as what they are – people with changing needs, changing moods, and ultimately, changing demands for the customer experience.
It is this change that will define the era of Experience Analytics, and, ultimately, define the year ahead.
Read how TechStyle Fashion Group used Experience Analytics to understand patterns in customer behavior across its e-commerce sites – including Fabletics, Shoedazzle, JustFab and FabKids – to reimagine the entire business cycle of fashion retail.