Examining stage two of the customer journey: Acquisition

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Welcome back to my series on the customer journey.

In Adobe’s most recent annual EConsultancy Survey, the majority of financial services executives said their top priority this year is to grow their client base. The percentage of sales these companies aim to make digitally has also increased—by a full 33 percent over the next 3 years. In short, customer acquisition is a massive priority right now, as is the acquisition of those customers via digital channels.

At Adobe, we’ve pinpointed a variety of challenges on the way to those goals: leveraging customer relationship management (CRM) for offsite advertising, retargeting, closing the loop with onsite and offsite messaging, and attribution between social and display conversions. In my article on stage 1 of the customer journey—awareness & consideration —I talked in depth about retargeting, as well as leveraging CRM and offsite data for advertising and onboarding.

This moves customers to the second stage of the journey: acquisition. In this article, I’ll explain how to leverage your datasets from the awareness stage to close the loop between onsite and offsite activity, and accelerate your customers along the next stages in their journey toward a purchase.

Closing the loop

One of the biggest challenges faced by marketers—in financial services and in many other industries—is a lack of integrated technology systems. It’s been extremely difficult to link offsite advertising technology with onsite personalisation technology.

In fact, through our experience from working with many of the leading retail banks and FSI companies, we know that their awareness phase—display, search, and social advertising—is managed by one team, while their onsite personalisation is handled by a completely separate team, and each team uses a different set of tools.

To close the loop between offsite advertising and onsite personalisation, your company needs to be able to link those teams, tools, and databases. As I explained in the intro article of this series, customers expect relevant contextual experiences, personalised in real time, in response to their behavior on other touchpoints. They don’t care how complicated these experiences are to implement. All they care about is the result.

To get there, you’ll need to focus on four key steps.

Steps to personalisation

The first of the four steps is capturing digital behavior. This means gathering data on users’ on site browsing habits, campaign exposure and other environmental and temporal variables like location, browser type and device. This data can, if possible, be linked to known customer data from CRM systems and other offline data warehouse. This data will enable you to perform the second step: create audience segments. These segments are groups of customers who are likely to be interested in a specific product, at a specific time, for a specific reason.

In short, your goal throughout these first two steps is to link advertising data (impressions, clicks, spend, network data, and so on) with onsite behavior data, in order to build progressive customer profiles—that is, profiles that change and grow in real time as you gain new data on specific customers and segments.

Once you’ve built your segments, you can move on to the third step: deliver dynamic offers across search, social, and display advertising. Those offers will bring customers from your audience segments back to your site, where you can perform the fourth and final step: close the loop by delivering personalised onsite experiences, tailored around individual customers’ interests and needs.

Tailored experiences

When a customer clicks on a particular search term, or banner, or any other ad that’s engaged them, they should arrive on your site to see a message that’s totally consistent with the ad’s. If they clicked an ad about mortgages, for example, they should arrive on a landing page with a big banner about mortgages right at the top. The site’s entire layout should adapt to focus on mortgage information.

In short, every step of the customer’s journey should be connected, optimised, and personalised around that individual’s particular needs and wants. This will drive ad-to-basket activity and move customers seamlessly along their journey toward a checkout, a set of completed account forms, or any other goal you want them to reach.

And if a customer drops out somewhere along that journey, you should be able to pinpoint where and why they dropped out, and run A/B tests to optimise the specific stage in the journey. Maybe a form could be shortened, or a message could be rewritten, or the stage could be streamlined in some other way. This should form the basis of a Test & Learn strategy, that is data driven and informed by actual results. I have not gone into too much detail on this topic here as it would warrant an entire series of blogs itself!

The final stage of acquisition is ensuring that the prospective customer can complete the relevant forms quickly, easily and across all devices. This multi-channel enrolment and best practices will be covered in the next article of this series. See you then.

About Michael Plimsoll


Mike is a seasoned innovative marketer focused on driving efficiencies and improved return on investment through the better use of data and analytics. He currently works as an Industry Marketing Director at Adobe. 


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