Are You Digitally Intimate with Your Customers?

Roundedcube Roundedcube
May 03, 2010
Sitecore , Digital Marketing

When Sitecore CEO, Michael Seiffert made his way up to the podium at the beginning of Dreamcore 2010 he set the tone of the entire engagement by focusing conferences-goers attention on the concept of “digital intimacy.” The term had a great ring to it and I began wondering if this was a Sitecore original or something they had picked up elsewhere. Doing a quick Google search on my phone I quickly realized that the adult industry had, not surprisingly, already began using this terminology in a much different way that Michael Seiffert was but after a little more digging I also found that Clive Thompson from the New York Times was using it as far back as September 2008 in his article, “Brave New World of Digital Intimacy.” Here is one one of my favorites paragraphs in the article:

"Young people at college are the ones to experience this most viscerally, because, with more than 90 percent of their peers using Facebook, it is especially difficult for them to opt out. Zeynep Tufekci, a sociologist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who has closely studied how college-age users are reacting to the world of awareness, told me that athletes used to sneak off to parties illicitly, breaking the no-drinking rule for team members. But then camera phones and Facebook came along, with students posting photos of the drunken carousing during the party; savvy coaches could see which athletes were breaking the rules. First the athletes tried to fight back by waking up early the morning after the party in a hungover daze to detag photos of themselves so they wouldn’t be searchable. But that didn’t work, because the coaches sometimes viewed the pictures live, as they went online at 2 a.m. So parties simply began banning all camera phones in a last-ditch attempt to preserve privacy."

Now for these imbibing college athletes (customers) this notion of “always on” digital intimacy was becoming a problem. They were trying to conceal something that would damage their relationship with their coach (supplier). The coach (salesman) on the other hand was using technology to keep track of his players (customers) to build a better team and make sure the best players were showing up on game day.

Now let’s completely change the setting and look at a car salesman. When you walk on the lot on Saturday looking for a new Dodge Charger (I so frickin’ want one of these cars!) the salesman is going to start asking some questions about what you’re looking for in a car, how much you’re wanting to spend, what type of driving you do, and so on. If this salesman is any good they’re going to sell you on the whole package rather than the traditional snake-oil car salesman we think of from the days of yore. In the end you answer all his questions, do some looking around and say you’ll stop by after you’ve done your due diligence.

Now, seven days later you come back to that same dealership and the same salesperson sees you pull in. You get out of your beat up ’04 Olds Alero (it could be worse but if you’re buyin’ I’m sellin’), the salesman walks up to you and begins asking the exact same set of introductory questions he asked you a week ago. If you’re anything like me you get a little impatient, frustrated that you have to go through this whole process again and quickly decide that this is not the guy you want to spend 2 hours filling out complicated, detailed paperwork with. End of sale, he loses and you walk off the lot in search of a salesperson that can remember what it is you’re looking for.

When you think about it isn’t your website acting exactly like this salesperson? No matter how many times your customer comes back to your site aren’t they getting the same user experience? What if you could change that? What if you could change the contents of your website to match the preferences of each individual user? Let me offer up a scenario:

  1. You’re a car dealership in St. Louis and I, Shane Freeman, visit your site looking for a new Dodge Charger.
  2. Seeing that you are a Dodge dealer I spend some time checking out various pages on your site. Some of those pages may be about the Charger itself, some of them may be about your company.
  3. Then I see a banner ad to download a case study on why the Dodge Charger is the best car since sliced bread. I click the link and am presented with a short form to fill in my name, e-mail address and phone number with the promise upon clicking submit Lou Fusz and his team will send me the goods to my email address.
  4. I fill in the form, click submit and in sheer anticipation of this case study leave the dealer’s website and check my email.

At this point in the story Lou Fusz and his team have been pretty good to me. They’ve given me a little free info and are starting to build up some brand equity. I appreciate the thought leadership and if I decide that the Charger is still right for me I may drop by their lot. But then again, if I drive by another Dodge lot on my way to work that has the same Charger I may not.

Back to the story…since Lou now had my name, email address and phone number a few things can now start to happen.

  1. A lead record is created in the dealership CRM system that has an activity associated with it. This activity is going to remind an inside sales rep to give me a call in two days to see what I thought about the case study.
  2. A session history record is created in the dealership CRM system that shows every single page I looked at on the dealership’s website.
  3. After I read the case study that afternoon I decide to go back to Lou’s website and check their prices against some of the other local competitors.
  4. This time when I come back to the site, I see an ad on the right-hand side of the page that is stating LOW, LOW, LOW prices for pre-owned Dodge Charges (well, how convenient is that!)
  5. I click on the ad and without having to type in any search terms or click on any makes or models a whole list of pre-owned Chargers are presented to me.
  6. After browsing around that page I see a small flicker in the top, right-hand corning of the page that says, "Want to know more about the Charger, chat LIVE with one of our specialists."
  7. I click the button, get connected to Click or Clack one of the Tappet brothers, have a conversation about gas mileage and financing options and tell him thank you and I’ll definitely give them a shot when I’m ready to buy.
  8. A new session history record has been created in CRM storing all the pages of my second visit to the website.
  9. Another new chat history record has been created with my entire conversation with the Tappet brother.
  10. After 24 hours I receive an automated e-mail from Lou and the gang thanking me for downloading the case study and encouraging me to give them a call if I have any questions.
  11. Two days later the other Tappet brother see a reminder pop up on his Outlook calendar to call Shane Freeman. Clack logs into CRM to get my phone number and notices that I’ve downloaded a case study, looks at all the pages I’ve been on the website, knows that his brother talked to me about pricing and financing and give me a call.
  12. A bit surprised by the strange number I answer the phone and am surprised that this guy whom I’ve never spoke to in my life knows a whole lot about what I’ve done, where I’ve been and who I’ve been talking to. He invites me down to their weekly reoccurring Friday afternoon club and says he’d be happy to accompany me on a test drive (prior to imbibing of course).
  13. I tell him it’s a date, show up on Friday, go for a spin and because these guys have taken care of my every need I sign the paperwork, trade in the Alero and I’m on my way in my new 2010 Charger.

In the tech support industry we refer to this type of engagement as closed loop ticketing. Any message sent between the customer and support services is all contained in the service ticket. This allows any support tech to pick up where the last one left off with great notes and a history of my previous interactions.

It seems that Sitecore is calling this digital intimacy. The next morning after his keynote, I had an opportunity to have breakfast with Michael Seiffert. When I explained a similar experience I had after downloading a whitepaper from Sitecore’s website I told him it was a bit creepy. He responded with an half smile and said, “CREEPY COOL.” That folks is definitely a Sitecore original and I would completely agree.

You may think the story I’ve outlined above is fake, a pipe dream or too complicated for your business. I would tell you that it’s not. It’s being done TODAY by smart forward thinking companies across the country. The amazing thing is that with Sitecore’s Online Marketing Suite, new Email Campaign Manager and all the other features Sitecore brings to the table we can start planning your implementation today.

If you want to engage your customers like never before and sell the right product to the right customer at the right time give us a call at (314) 692-2823. We’d love to work with you to figure out how we can best utilize technology to meet your business needs. If you’re a technology professional and have an idea that’s not in my 17 steps above please comment and share some expertise. 

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