Integrating Offline Data to Improve Online Relevancy

Seeking new ways to enhance predictions of user action and intent, marketers are forging new ground in finding ways to tie together online and offline data to build more comprehensive engagement models. Once, the collection and analysis of online activities and offline interactions were separate pillars of data managed by disparate internal teams – and often done by comparing stacks of reports and spreadsheets with different indicators. However, advances in tracking technologies are offering new opportunities for organizations to develop a more comprehensive view of a user’s behavior across multiple touchpoints. The new challenge often lies in establishing new collaborative relationships with offline, non-marketing counterparts within the organization – and then developing programs to optimize across these channels.

A few central opportunities exist to begin bridging the gap towards a more comprehensive picture of customer need and intent:

Call Center Data

With appropriate scripts and planning, the call center can provide deep insight into how the Web is performing as a sales and service channel. From identifying what users are seeking to do online, where they are going, and more specifically, what troubles or roadblocks they encounter on your site, the call center can provide more than just anecdotal feedback, but specific recommendations and direction to improve relevancy. In fact, by using unique “Web-only” phone numbers, call centers are even able to isolate specific pages, microsites, or offers that cause challenges or concern for Web users. This identification is a natural starting point for an optimization and targeting program.

Several things critical to understanding the needs of customers who end up making a call due to challenges with your site:

  • What triggers a call to customer service from the site?
  • What was the resolution the call center was able to provide?
  • If the content/tool was actually on the site, what could have been done differently in terms of nomenclature, navigation, or content to improve the experience, making the content more findable or relevant?
  • If there wasn’t an accessible phone number, what else would they have done?

With this type of insight, marketers can make enhancements to the content and presentation to increase relevancy and optimize onsite conversions.

Offline Sales Insights

For more complex, expensive, and enterprise purchases, the website is just one of many stops along the decision-making path. And although customers may never purchase an item or register in your service portal, the onsite experience still contributes greatly to their research and decision-making process. The key is connecting the onsite experience with the offline sales process. Collaborating with sales to more effectively understand the buying process, and how a user uses information to make decisions, the site can become a more effective, relevant sales tool. Key questions that sales can help answer to fine-tune the site experience include:

  • What were the key attributes that differentiated the product?
  • What was needed to compare this product to others?
  • What was needed to rationalize the investment to others in the organization?
  • What were the words and nomenclature the customer used in describing their business challenge?

Knowing this type of information can greatly inform the sales team for future sales, and can also shape the Web experience. Specific opportunities to increase relevance include:

  • Better, more relevant SEO and PPC terms (terms that reflect customer intent, rather than branded product or industry terms)
  • More effective grouping/organization of content
  • Investment in more relevant types of content

While the integration of this offline data may be a multi-phase process, and will often require the creation of new reporting streams, having a more unified view of how a customer engages with your brand is definitely a positive step.