About Automated Experiences

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In this video, we’ll be discussing the details about automated, individualized experiences. These experiences are typically found online in websites or apps, but could be in a kiosk, or an ad in print, video, web, or audio. They are experienced by the reader or viewer alone on their own time. The effectiveness of the experience can be tracked through clicks, screen scrolling, or length of time on a page or watching a video. Metrics are typically the customer’s response and communication to let the company know what its interests are in a communication about a product or service.

It’s a general way to connect with large audiences. The design of these items is based on personas, which helps segment audiences based on similar needs and motivations. The goal is to provide information for these groups, so they move to the next step in the purchase or relationship building process. It’s typically not a highly personal experience, except if it is addressing a transactional need. We aren’t at a stage yet technically where this could be more personal and collaborative through automatic means. Human intervention is still required.

This video today isn’t an insights video where you can discover the connection between ideas and get a revelation or epiphany. This is a resource video to guide you while creating your plans. It will provide instruction about what these types of experiences are, how to use them, and how to measure their effectiveness.

This video includes information found in the book, Revenue or Relationships: Win Both, to guide you in using different communication methods to achieve specific goals as defined in your customer relationship lifecycle strategy, which will help you and your company build better customer relationships.

Automated, individualized experiences are one of four quadrants I outline. The quadrant chart presents how you can look at communication approaches as conversation methods to engage customers and build customer relationships in business. You could say that this quadrant chart helps you develop a content or customer communication strategy because what is content but a way to have a virtual conversation with a customer?

The quadrant defines these conversation methods using two axes.

On one axis, we map the delivery method of a communication, which could be anything from an in-person interaction between people to an automated or digital experience with a system. On the other axis, we map if an experience is immersive where an individual experiences people, a collection of content, or a product or service directly or has a direct individualized experience with a single other entitya person or a systemwhich allows for a greater personalized experience.

Automated, digital, individualized experiences are both self-guided and one sided. I say self-guided because the user can interact with a system or item on his or her own time. And I say one-sided because the company designs and distributes an experience and/or communication, mainly in a print or web medium, and the customer responds to the company through their selections. It’s only the company talking. The customer is responding and communicating through clicks and taps. Actions are the basis for communication on the customer side.

You can build empathy or compassion for your customers through this communication method based on the metrics you receive from the activities. However, you can’t get that insight or the customer to feel that emotional connection if you don’t design a website with empathy and compassion in mind. That’s why it’s necessary to have the personasto understand what will help a customer connect to your solution, how do they view the problem you solve, and how are they motivated to solve the problem.

So, who creates this content? Most often these content pieces are created by companies, but these experiences can also be created by customers or influencers to share.

Some examples of company generated content activities include websites, email marketing campaign, and digital ads. Traditional advertising can be included in the mix if we consider an ad as being a self-guided snapshot experience of a company or product in a magazine, billboard or other location. Customer or influencer generated content could include forums, customer stories or testimonials. All these types of content require that you experience it yourself as video, audio or text and pictures. Others can’t have the experience for you.

The benefit from this approach is that the customer can discover who the company is and what it does, as well as understand how it could solve their problem, in their own time. There’s no pressure to take any next steps or actions. It’s stress-free, like the old-fashioned brochure. Customers read the information and your company puts the next step in the customer’s hands so that they can take it when they are ready.

And that’s the point here. It’s a great method to use when people want to get information while researching a solution and aren’t ready to make a decision. They don’t want to feel the pressure of someone directly asking them to take a next step in a purchase journey and buy. They want to keep the decision to do that open when they feel ready on their own time in the future.

However, it does have challenges. The experience is pre-planned, constructed, and limited. If the user has a concern, question, or need outside of the defined experience, there is no way to address it unless it is already constructed within the experience itself. The individual would need to initiate a conversation on their own. The company loses all control of this. The question a company needs to ask at this point – is that bad? I would say no.

When you let the customer choose you rather than you pursue the customer, you know that they converted on their own. They are making the choice to use your product and build a relationship with your company. And this works in your favor in the future for repeat purchasing, loyalty, and more. There is no perceived coercion or manipulation. It’s all based on choice, which is ideal.

How do we define success for this method? You could consider indicators of success being high clicks, visits, and signup rates. For print, we could say that we are destined for success if a placement has high potential views. Additionally, we can measure the distribution of the information and views. 

But we can gain more insights about the content if we broaden our measurement beyond quantitative methods.

I consider three methods of measurement to get a complete picture of how the conversation and interactions are progressing: quantitative and qualitative methods and content analysis. I like to know not just if customers are watching a video or reading an eBook or whatever, but if that asset is inspiring a conversation to occur with the customer through social media, a store visit, or even a phone call. To me, that’s success. That’s why I think these approaches together help determine if a tactic is truly contributing to the conversation and achieving goals.

What types of metrics can we use to determine success? There are the standard quantitative metrics like how a user engages with the medium through clicks on the site, time on site, date of visit, number of visits, potential views, and the like. However, someone could use content analysis to determine the type of content (subject matter and presentation) that gets the most interactions and later discover perspectives of how the visitor feels about the constructed experience through surveys in a qualitative approach.

Since we are familiar with many quantitative methods to measure success for automated content, let’s consider what some other methods can offer.

With content analysis we can discover which link keywords the customers most frequently select to get more information or identify the page topics that are most frequently read. We could consider which topics get more support or the tone that resonates most. 

For qualitative research, you could have a survey or focus group discussions to discover how customers perceive your company’s brand and values and if they understand what you do. It would be great to discover how they learn this information as well.

What you can learn from this research:

  • Which types of content do people access regularly?
  • What topics do they want to learn more about?
  • How do people perceive your product?

To wrap up, people need space to figure out what your company is, what it does, how it works, and how your solution, your product or service, can change their lives. They need time to consider the impact this decision to purchase will have on their life and on their family’s lives or fellow employee’s lives. They may want time alone to do this. In companies we often forget that not every prospective customer wants to have a conversation with your employees right away. It’s like going to a bar and meeting new people. You get to know people and have conversations with no expectations. And that’s what automated, individualized experiences area one-sided conversation with no expectations except someone having the ability to get to know your company and solution or product or service. Customer clicks and taps communicate to the company what they are interested in learning more about. Sometimes, that’s all that is needed to have a conversation at that time. But in addition to offering content that can be accessed on their own time, you need to include a way for the reader or viewer to emotionally connect with your company’s materials. This is why customer stories are so effectivethey come with emotional engagement included in the experience. Otherwise, you need to understand the motivations and true problems of your target audience to emotionally engage with them in your communications and, motivate them to take the next step in the buying process. This means that they need to understand how your solution, your product or service, will help him or her solve the problem they have and help them place a greater priority on solving their problem.

This is a great way to distribute information and build initial trust. However, other methods may be better suited to engage customers in their specific circumstances and we will be reviewing those next.

I hope this was helpful. Thanks, and have a great day!

At-a-Glance Summary of the Four Quadrants

Automated, Digital Individualized Experiences

Automated Conversations

In-person Conversations

In-person Experiences

Potential Content Creators

Company (employees), influencers, third-parties (analyst firms, review and content creation companies), press, potentially customers

Company (employees), influencers, third-parties (search engines, social media, chatbot companies)

Customers and influencers unlikely

Company (employees), influencers, third-parties (call centers), customers

Word-of-mouth activities

Mainly companies and third-parties (event hosting companies, analyst firms, store fronts)

Less likely: customers, influencers (e.g. Meetups)

Goal

Customer discovers general information

Customer finds information that solves their problem

Customer gets referred to a person or resource

Customer discovers specific information that solves their problem

Employee can connect emotionally with the customer

Customer discovers how a product or service could help him or her

Employee can connect emotionally with the customer

Level of Emotional Engagement

Medium

Low

High

High

Constructed or Spontaneous Experience?

Constructed

Constructed

Mostly spontaneous

Both

Types of Conversations

Informational, transactional

Possibly decision making and influential

Informational, transactional

Possibly decision making

Informational, transactional, decision making, influential, relationship building, collaborative

Informational, transactional, decision making, influential, relationship building, collaborative

Conversion Experience

Customer needs to access 11+ pieces of content to build trust and move to in-person conversations or sales

Interactions online build the relationship

Conversion moves the customer to engage with automated experiences or have in-person conversations

No direct employee engagement

Guide/direct customers to build a relationship with a company

Drive to a sale or conflict/issue resolution

Conversations often build a relationship between a customer and employee (more than just the customer and company)

Can be used to establish an early stage relationship between a customer and company and further build a relationship

Drive to a sale or conflict/issue resolution

Conversations often build a relationship between a customer and employee (more than just the customer and company)