In today’s battle for clicks and conversions, personalization is key
By now, pretty much everyone knows how important digital technology is to the modern economy. From streamlining communication to improving product lines, digital makes the business world go around. Yet while digital technology has been a net benefit for companies, it has also raised customer expectations significantly. Today, it is not enough to merely offer the best product or service, you must also use your digital infrastructure to create unique, seamless and personal experiences for your clients. Here are some simple ways you can start doing so today.
Bring in the bots
I’ve previously written about the immense benefits of using chatbots on your website. From a customer service perspective, it just makes sense. In today’s “always-on” economy, you need to support your customers around the clock. Thankfully, chatbots have advanced enough to now answer a variety of user questions, direct visitors around your website or even provide educational or product resources.
Personalize content assets
One benefit of the digital age is that it has never been easier to deliver personalized communications at scale. Take email marketing. There are small, pre-written code snippets that you can insert into your subject lines or body copy that will populate with each email recipient’s personalized information upon delivery. The data shows that this simple action can have a big impact on the overall ROI of your email marketing campaigns, with some studies depicting a bump of nearly 50% in open rates.[i]
Always leap at a chance to solicit and collect customer feedback. In doing so, you’ll gain valuable insights to improve your processes, operations and service delivery.
This is another area where digital technology can play an invaluable roll. Many standard CMS platforms offer built-in customer contact forms. The drawback is that this method is inherently passive – meaning your customers may take the time and effort to respond but also may not. A more active approach would involve creating a customer feedback survey that you disseminate directly to your customer base. SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms have made it a breeze to accomplish something like this, providing free or low-cost tools to help you connect with your clients and gather valuable opinions.
Create meaningful landing pages
An often-overlooked element of a given marketing or customer journey effort is landing pages, which is unfortunate for a variety of reasons. Not only can a shoddy landing page harm the overall impact of your marketing campaigns, but it wastes a chance to further personalize your client’s experience. While you shouldn’t overload your landing page with extraneous links that distract visitors from the action you want them to take (such as filling out a contact form), including a few other strategic resources targeted to their unique goals and pain points can help you create more valuable experiences.
Personalization and optimization = better business
It’s tempting to put personalization and optimization initiatives on the back burner, especially when you have many other competing priorities. Yet even making small tweaks to your digital ecosystem can go a long way toward developing more powerful connections with your audience and creating modern brand experiences.
When you look at companies that have succeeded in turbulent times you, will find those that embrace strategic planning fare the best. Strategic planning is found to have a positive impact on organizational performance and is a must for enhancing an organization’s capacity to achieve its goals.
As a title professional, now may be a good time to review your strategic planning process and look for ways to improve it.
Before you begin, it’s important to realize what a strategic plan really is. A strategic plan is a complete and comprehensive activity. It is not document or slide presentation created at the beginning of the year and then tucked in a drawer. The steps of the strategic plan include selecting your team, analyzing current situations and considering future possibilities, defining objectives, creating the plan to realize the objectives, communicating and implementing the plan, and monitoring and adjusting the plan. As you see, “planning” is an important element of the strategic plan, but it’s certainly not the only element.
Here are some things to keep in mind while building and executing the various parts of your strategic plan.
Selecting your team
Be really honest about your team’s strengths and weaknesses, and where you might need to upgrade. An essential requirement for performing the strategic plan is to make sure the members of your team are up to the challenge – psychologically strong, honest, respectful of competitors, accountable, focused, principled and confident but not arrogant. Are their moods appropriate? Nothing thwarts a plan like negativity from a leader, and nothing helps motivate a team who can share their passion for the future of the organization. Ask yourself: do the members of your team embrace the importance of strategic planning, or do they think it’s a distraction from the “real work?” If you’re a business leader, it’s important to reinforce the importance of strategic planning, particularly in a challenging market environment.
Analyze current situations and future possibilities
The next step is to assess current situations and future possibilities both inside your business and outside in the market. The idea here is to ground your assessments about the current situation. Asking the question “where are we now?” is a way to think about this analysis. Internally consider your systems, procedures, and people. Look at your income and balance sheets, sales projections, customer satisfaction, market share and competitors. A SWOT analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, Threats) is commonly used. When you have considered the present circumstances and characteristics of your company, then move externally to review and write out your assumptions about customers, competitors, the market, and the economy. Try to stick to the facts and leave emotion and speculation out of your data gathering. As human beings, we have a habit of overestimating our capabilities, so it’s important to ground our assessments.
With your facts in hand from gathering data, now it is time to set objectives. Asking the question “where are we going?” is a common way to think about this phase. Consider the future you would like to see for your business. What are you hoping to produce at the end of the year, in 18 months, in two years? People tend to think in one, short time horizon, so it’s important to consider your objectives over multiple horizons of time. It may also be helpful to view your business objectives in light of your organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values.
One problem with many plans is that there are too many strategic objectives. Keep it simple and real. Get clear about what’s important and urgent and what is not. Of course, remember that people − real human beings − must perform your plan. Be realistic about what your team can do, and what they cannot do. Finally, do one last “gut check.” Ask yourself if your objectives are competitive enough. Said another way, will you be satisfied if you achieve your objectives? While it’s important to think simple, it’s also important not to think too small, particularly in a challenging market like we have now. You need objectives that will get the job done.
Strategies and tactics to realize objectives
Now it’s time to ask “how will we get there?” How will the objectives you have outlined be achieved? Consider the work your organization faces as you seek to convert on your objectives and make a plan specifying the members of your team who will do the work, by when, to what standard and how much you expect it to cost. It’s helpful to think in terms of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound. After you have a rough plan, it’s important to try to pick it apart. To plan with confidence, it’s worth considering where the plan is most likely to break down. Some common flaws include poorly trained employees, poor data gathering and analysis, underestimating competitors, disregard for the importance of new tools and technology obligations, overestimation of sales skills (or other skills), and the lack of new products and services to keep up with change.
Communicating and implementing
When communicating your plan to the company at large, keep it simple, keep it SMART and make it important. Your plan has taken a lot of work and it represents a brighter, more successful future for your company. It’s a big deal, and it’s worth getting excited about. Your management team has a key role in holding the strategic objectives and tactical focuses outlined in your plan. Reinforce them. Be proud. Encourage your team to repeat over and over again what the team is doing and why. Use the same language, the same distinctions, the same graphs and charts. Communicate budgets, timelines, and what people are doing what. Honor their work by sharing key metrics and tell stories about milestones achieved. Hold regular meeting rhythms for key employees that focus on breaking down barriers and resolving issues that stand in the way of team goals.
Monitoring and adjusting
The final step in performing the strategic plan is to monitor, evaluate progress and adjust as needed. As a traveler checks the signs along a road while completing a journey, so to must we track progress toward our objectives. If you are a leader, it is important to maintain discipline and enthusiasm for the plan. Remember that adage that no plan survives first contact with reality, so adjust as needed, but … resist the temptation to trash your plan completely. On tough days that temptation may be strong, but remember the brighter future you and your team have envisioned. Keep progress moving toward your goals, even if you must take a step backward now and then. In closing, the strategic plan is a living and evolving set of commitments. Performing it requires continuous updates, interpretations and assessments of key metrics and situations. The more effective your practice of the strategic plan, the nimbler and more resilient your company will be; greatly enhancing your likelihood of success in these turbulent times.