Turning an anonymous customer into a brand advocate

Today, we all reside in the ether. We communicate with loved ones via FaceTime and Skype, we entertain ourselves through listening to Spotify and watching YouTube, and we get our weekly shop through a click of a button. Unhealthy though it would be, we could live our entire life from the comfort of our sofas.

This paradigm shift in society has been a blessing and a curse for marketers. Yes, it has opened up markets that were previously restricted by geographic-borders, but it has also meant that businesses are having to sell their wares to faceless, digital entities. So how do businesses build relationships with such customers to garner loyalty and repeat business? 

Connecting and engaging with the “sofa generation” is imperative. Today, as many as half (48%) of Brits shop for their groceries online, with sales forecast to reach £9.8 billion this year, up 13% from 2015 according to Mintel. What’s more, sales are forecast to grow a further 73% to reach £15 billion by 2020. However, with the movement online, consumer patience has dwindled, while expectations of a frictionless personal experience are soaring. To help meet these rising expectations and reduce the potential for lost sales and cart abandonment, customer data can and should be properly organised through customer identity management (CIM) solutions. 

Here are five points to consider when tapping into your customer’s potential with technology: 

Adopt an effective CIM system 

The globalisation we are seeing means that businesses need to handle large volumes of users. It may be a good problem to have, but is something that needs to be addressed. Trying to re-purpose legacy identity access management (IAM) systems to manage potentially millions of customer accounts can be cumbersome, difficult to scale, unfit for multichannel strategies and ultimately offer deficient performance; costing you customers. An effective CIM system enables a relationship between the customer and your organisation, fostering trust and repeat business.  

Engage through multiple platforms 

Through offering the omni-channel experience across traditional and emerging platforms, businesses now have multiple touchpoints with consumers. By implementing additional platforms with new registration forms and databases means that existing customers will either need to re-register with the new platform, leading to siloed data, or a complex integration will need to be built to sync identities across platforms. Even then, you can suffer from “schizophrenic data” with more than one version of the truth. In fact, it may be impossible to be sure that two records reflect the same person. CIM technology can unify the customer experience, such as facilitating single sign-on (SSO) across all user interfaces and allowing the use of existing login credentials when engaging a new site or mobile app for the first time. 

Develop structured databases 

It is estimated that more than 80% of data is unstructured, and data requirements change frequently. Relational databases struggle to manage non-uniform attributes, since they require pre-defined schemas before loading them. The changes required to handle a new data source are cumbersome and result in an over-complex schema. The fastest and easiest workaround is often to set up a new database, resulting in data siloes and more extract, transform and load (ETL) processes, creating more complexity. Eventually something either stops working, developers become frustrated enough to leave, or new projects slow down so much that progress will stop completely.   

Keep an eye on registration conversation rate 

The registration conversion rate – the rate at which anonymous users are converted into registered customers – is an often overlooked metric, and elegant user experience design is the key principle underpinning it. Customers are increasingly craving a personalised user experience. Get the user experience wrong and your customers will opt to stay anonymous, with high rates of shopping cart abandonment, low transaction conversion rates and smaller average order values. 

Stay up to date with compliancy regulations 

Be mindful of the ever-growing minefield of compliancy regulations. It is often difficult for retailers to keep abreast of them, especially when selling cross-border. As more information becomes available online, privacy regulations have become ever stricter. This increases the importance of security and fraud protection. Unfortunately, the bad guys are getting cleverer each year, as seen by the proliferation of data breach notices over the past 12 months. Make sure your CIM implementation complies with rapidly changing privacy regulations in all the jurisdictions in which you operate. 

An effective CIM system helps establish and build the trust necessary to facilitate the data sharing that supports know your customer (KYC) regulations, cross-marketing capabilities and business intelligence activities. 

By eschewing the schizophrenia proliferating in the online realm, CIM can instead lead to a single view of the customer, even when a business has multiple sites of customer data pertaining to product offerings, marketing campaigns and acquisitions. A CIM strategy provides a unified and comprehensive view of the customer across all forms of contact, turning unknown site visitors into known, loyal and engaged customers that can become your ultimate brand advocates.    

Richard Lack, director of EMEA sales at Gigya

Image Credit: Jirsak / Shutterstock