Act now to meet your customer at every stage of the digital journey

Gone are the days when one could talk about how challenging it is to view multi-channel digital data in one place. Today acting on available data and working out dynamic, real-time strategies that push a user closer to making a decision must happen in the moment. EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta investigates

Let’s say a customer is on a brand website. They question facing travel brands is this: how do we present this customer with the best offer or the right content in real-time.  Of course, there are clear benefits to knowing how travellers are interacting with a travel firm’s digital presence. But as fashionable the idea of having a holistic view of your customer sounds, dissecting the massive volume of briskly evolving data in real-time remains a relatively new proposition.

Nevertheless, many hotel companies are still trying to improve their relationship with the customer at every digital touch point.  One of these is the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company which is focused on ensuring that every customers’ digital interaction moves them closer to having a more engaging, more rewarding experience with the brand.

“Most commonly that includes sending them to Ritz-Carlton Rewards to join, to our Facebook page to follow us, or to download our mobile app so they can benefit from our on and off property functionality on the own devices,” says Clayton Ruebensaal, VP global marketing, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. “To do this effectively, we need to answer the following question well, ‘How would the Ritz-Carlton behave in mobile, or on Foursquare, or on Facebook, etc?’ If we do that well, consumers’ brand experience online will be as good as offline.”

Knowing customers better

The objective today is to gain an insight into the behaviour and preferences of each digital customer that connects with an organisation. But how do you do this? Let’s focus on inbound marketing on websites as an example.

Say a consumer visits a website a few times per week, reads content, visits different pages and views various media communications. Each time they visit, an organisation has the opportunity to learn more about my unique behavioural preferences and patterns. Is it really the best to serve the exact same content to each and every visitor, no matter how many times they have come before?

“Digital personalisation, content curation, and display advertising have everything to gain from my exhibited behaviours – both historically and in-the-moment,” says Suneel Grover, senior solutions architect, SAS.

The entire spectrum of data collection, preparation, analytics, and real-time inbound marketing can be operationalised and dynamically executed during a visitor experience, taking into account everything an organisation knows about that visitor – whether that be anonymous online behaviour only, or both online and offline behaviour, because this is a repeat customer.

Taking action can occur during specific milestones during a website visit, or it can be more sophisticated by intensively evaluating a visitor after every click. In other words waiting for the analytics to detect a new signal based on the freshest learning, and influence the visitor experience dynamically based on that real-time detection. “Subsets of web pages can be dynamically altered, or entire pages can transform into new and unique experiences in real-time, utilising both business rules and data-driven intelligence to address the preferences that the consumer is transparently sharing,” says Grover.

The benefits can range from improving marketing acquisition to cross-selling and retention performance metrics to significant upticks in consumer experience satisfaction and brand interpretation.

Be decisive with ‘big data’

No doubt many entities will be counting on big data optimisation today to make the most of customer interactions across all digital touchpoints. “Information is powerful, and it is how we use it that will define our success,” says Grover. He points out that travel brands have a wealth of opportunity to gain by making iterative progress on leveraging data, analytics and marketing automation. Data comes from different places; internal databases like CRM, digital like web, mobile, ads and so on, and publically available external sources such as social media.

As data continues to help with competitive advantage, brands are recognising the more detail they have access to, the more their analytical processes can thrive to support digital marketing interactions. To successfully execute on this premise, the organisation should consider a commitment to recommended best practice in the field of information management.

According to Grover data management approaches include data access, data integration, data quality and data governance which create a solid foundation to pull in data from a variety of sources. Referring to the saying ‘garbage in-garbage out’, Grover believes this is really important to support downstream analytic and marketing activity. From there, analytics management highlights the increased focus on analytical models as high-value assets for a brand. This comes from the realisation that predictive models, as well as the underlying data, must be managed and in certain cases operationalised for optimal performance to support outbound and inbound marketing challenges.

“Finally, none of all this can create value unless decisions are executed, which brings us to decision management,” says Grover. He believes a successful strategy must support both analytical applications (business intelligence, data mining, text analytics, forecasting, optimisation and so on) and operational or transactional applications such as enterprise resource planning and customer relationship management systems.

This is because firms need to act within a limited window of opportunity, especially in digital. Consumers aren’t going to wait to make their decisions. To deliver on the promise of maturing past batch processing and moving towards dynamic, real-time decisions, decision management should support a cross section of business rules like constraints, suppressions as well as data-driven analytical intelligence such as analytical segmentation, probability to upsell, probability to purchase in which digital channel and on.

This way travel firms may just be in a position to create higher levels of relevance and personalisation – which is what everybody is aiming for. 

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