Serving tailored content to website visitors based on their characteristics, behaviour and interaction history is key to achieving a destination website and creating an online presence that creates an engaged customer.

"In a world of declining margins and increasing customer fragmentation, the pressure is on organisations to attain far more value from the online channel. Organisations can no longer be satisfied by 3% conversion rates from acquisition activity; nor should they settle for one off transactions,” says Nick Keating, VP EMEA, Maxymiser.

He continues, “The objective should be to complement acquisition and retention strategies with highly targeted online content management to develop a destination web site and create a highly engaged customer base that not only transacts repeatedly but shares that experience via social networking to attract additional customers.”

Here are Maxymiser’s top five tips for creating long term online customer engagement:

1. Get the basics right

The starting place for improving the overall relevance of online content and improving the customer experience is transactional optimisation via A/B and multivariate testing. With every content change tested against a performance baseline, organisations can continually hone the customer experience.

“Too often product development and design is run by opinion and consensus,” says Harry Parkes, Director of Customer Experience at Rank Interactive. “We don’t want opinion, we want evidence. The only opinions that count are those of our customers. Maxymiser allows us to get that information.”

And the direct impact of an improved customer experience can be astonishing – from 100% improvement on performance for one off tests, to a typical annual uplift of 10s%.

2. Build upon transactional optimisation with segmentation and personalisation

To be truly customer centric, organisations need to engage customers in the right way, with the most compelling content to make sure they come back for more.

Adopting segmentation and personalisation, via both rules based and self-learning algorithms, provides the chance to reflect customer behaviour with the compelling, highly tailored customer content that underpins true customer engagement; engagement that drives not one off transactions but prompts repeat visits and maximises long term value.

3. Become Customer Obsessed

Tools like segmentation, recommendation and behavioural targeting equate to relationship optimisation which enables organisations to progress from attempting to listen to the entire customer base, to responding in real time to the actual behaviour of each customer – closing the gap between customer expectation and actual experience.

“Using Maxymiser, we were able to develop an approach that provides customers with only the relevant promotional information,” says John Hogan, Research & Optimisation Lead, Virgin Media.

He adds, “We were also able to serve competitor-targeted marketing creative to visitors,” says John Hogan. “Compared to our unsegmented promotional marketing, the targeted creative increased order conversion by almost 20%.”

4. Test, refine, evolve and test again

Organisations need to exploit real-time insight into a customer’s online behaviour to continually evolve and refine the experience and ensure every decision regarding online content is correct, reflects customer behaviour and, critically, improves customer engagement.

Harry Parkes comments, “Everything needs to be in a constant state of testing and optimisation. Maxymiser has enabled us to become much more agile.”

5. Get buy-in from all business stakeholders

Only by involving the whole organisation in the journey, can the business move away from ‘the way things have always been done’, to one where integrated decision making is encouraged.

In the words of Joseph Enever, Website Analytics and Customer Insight manager at Carphone Warehouse: “There is now a new theme of awareness within the business where we are using the learnings [from multivariate testing] to drive our development roadmap.”

Matt Walton, Head of Online Sales, Virgin Media, adds, “Maxymiser has allowed us to put the customer at the centre of the decision-making process and led to a more efficient business that both saves and makes money. A test and learn culture is rapidly being established in teams throughout the company – and Maxymiser is right at the centre of it. There’s real value to this approach. If you are serious about managing online both as a sales channel and as part of a multi-channel sales strategy, optimisation has to be a core part of what you do.”

Today, mass content optimisation should be business as usual. No organisation can justify the risk of not knowing the impact that unmeasured and uncontrolled content changes might have in disenfranchising hard won customers and their potential effect on revenue.

Published on: 1:34PM on 21st December 2012