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Karen Naves has a keen eye for connecting customer data to the digital experience. Having a clear understanding of the digital buyer’s journey and how to engage and develop impactful experiences across digital media has provided her with incredible insight into customer behavior. 

“The key for organizations is to understand their customers so they can provide highly relevant, trusted and personalized experiences across all channels,” she said. “In turn, this will enable them to drive personal connections and retain loyal customers to increase revenue.” 

Naves is a seasoned marketing executive with extensive experience developing and executing strategic, global integrated marketing programs for increased demand generation. She currently serves as SVP, demand generation, at Tealium, a company that connects customer data across web, mobile, offline, and IoT so businesses can better connect with their customers. 

Tealium was a sponsor of Simpler Media Group’s fall Digital Experience Summit event (now CMSWire CONNECT), which took place online Oct. 26 and 27. She spoke with Simpler Media Group about her session, “Creating Moments that Matter: 3 Strategies You Can Adopt to Build Amazing CX,” pressing on the importance of CX in customer acquisition, engagement and retention. 

The Ideal Customer Experience

Simpler Media Group: What makes an "ideal" customer experience? How does that differ from what most organizations are doing, and how can those gaps be filled?

Karen Naves: The foundation to amazing customer experiences (CX) is understanding your customers through data; not merely categorizing them into broad personas or buying groups. Organizations need to fundamentally understand customers’ individual interests, preferences, anticipated needs, etc. from the first engagement, through the point of sale, and throughout their customer lifecycle. This is not an easy task and many companies are missing the mark. In a recent Martech article they reported: 

  • 43% of respondents were retargeted with content about an item they just purchased.
  • 28% of respondents said they were retargeted for products that were not age appropriate or were designed for a gender they did not identify with. 

Companies who deliver these types of experiences risk losing customers, and ultimately, revenue. Beyond losing business, companies who aren’t prioritizing customer data for optimal CX risk customers distancing themselves from the brand, unsubscribing from all communication, blocking the brand on social media, or deciding not to purchase from the brand now or in the future. 

Today’s consumers are highly sophisticated and demand amazing experiences, or they will spend elsewhere. Companies have steep competition when it comes to attracting and retaining consumers and personalized, real-time CX is the game changer. 

SMG: Your session explores strategies to build an amazing CX. Can you expand on that?

Naves: During my presentation at the DX Summit, I focus on three strategies for building amazing customer experiences through 1) attracting and acquiring new customers, 2) cross-sell opportunities, and 3) loyalty programs. 

My favorite example of creating amazing CX is through customer loyalty programs. The main reason is that you can develop such deep brand loyalty with your customers by simply using customer data. Imagine you have “high-value” customers who spend $1,000 per year and “moderate-value” customers who spend $500 per year. You can use this data to automate a birthday or holiday gift program, for example, where your “high-value” customers are sent higher price point gifts, while your “moderate-value” customers are sent a gift at a lower price point. 

You can also use customer data to identify a gift that aligns with their interests, making the loyalty program even more impactful, and doing it all at scale. Regardless of the gift price point, you are creating an amazing experience for your customers while also focusing your investment on higher-value customers.

Graphic with "DX Leaders" written on the top left, "Karen Naves Tealium" on the top right and Karen Naves headshot in black-and-white to bottom right.

The Challenge of CX Scalability

SMG: What are the biggest obstacles to creating and delivering on CX goals? How can companies leverage technology to help?

Naves: The biggest obstacle is scalability. Knowing a few customers at a 1:1 level is feasible, but for enterprise businesses, this is a huge hurdle. Data silos, expanding privacy and consent regulations, a lack of CX analytics tools, are additional factors that prevent organizations from customer insights that transform the customer experience. If you’re battling siloed data, modern organizations today are investing in customer data platform (CDP) software which collects, enriches and connects all of your data sources, spanning legacy databases, website & social activity, marketing automation tools, transactional systems, CRMs, and more, to create a single consolidate profile for each customer. 

By having unified customer data, organizations have the full view of their customers at scale which improves data insights and enables real-time activation of the data across omnichannel programs. By connecting siloed data, companies unlock the ability to honor privacy and consent preferences, build trust, and avoid costly fines.Best in class customer experiences are rooted in trust. But with so many data privacy and security regulations, many companies struggle to balance capturing the insights they need while respecting privacy preferences. Here, value exchange is the key. 

Offer a discount in exchange for an email address. Or, increase transparent communication about how the data will be used to improve the overall experience. It’s critical that companies always use simple language when outlining their privacy policies, and ensure they uphold your customer preferences.

SMG: What is the role of data within the CX realm? How is customer data used to enhance customer experiences?

Naves: First-party data is the foundation of amazing CX; without customer insights, organizations can’t deliver elevated experiences. As an example from my own personal experience, when I was considering an online purchase I visited a company’s website, accepted cookies, and it led to this amazing experience that kept the product I was interested in top of mind with clever retargeting ads. I was eventually offered a discount code in exchange for my email address, which I agreed to and then purchased the product. 

This could have been an amazing experience and case study on how to get CX right. But, I was targeted with the same retargeting ad after I made the purchase! This was a huge miss. Not only was this a confusing experience for me, the marketing team wasted ad spend on me by promoting a product I already purchased. This brand missed the opportunity to create a connection with me by fostering brand loyalty. 

Additionally, if the organization had been working with a real-time CDP, they would have known I was a customer and could have used the opportunity to cross-sell other products related to my purchase, increasing potential revenue.

Winning With Amazing CX

SMG: Looking ahead, what developments do you anticipate in the global economy that will impact the CX and how best to build for them?

Naves: Today’s economy faces many challenges. With rising costs, supply chain issues and inflation, consumers are being very selective about where they spend their money. This means companies will have to stay ahead of their competition to attract and retain their customers. 

Amazing CX is the way they’ll win. Companies need to become more efficient with an eye on their Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). They need to ensure they’re only targeting customers who will buy, and suppress those who won’t. Overall, companies who get CX right, both in growth and retention, will come out on top in the current economic climate.

SMG: Looking back, is there a pivotal moment when a big idea clicked, or when you learned something you’ve carried with you ever since?

Naves: Years ago when I worked in New York City, email marketing was hot, and the CAN-SPAM Act hadn’t even been considered. Here we were, emailing people through our corporate email (and sometimes not even putting our email lists in the BCC field!). Back then, we didn’t have Marketing Operations (MOPs) teams, and marketing automation tools weren’t around. Jumping forward a few decades… The value of marketing automation is not questioned and the market size is in the billions. All that said, when I look at where we are today, I see many companies still in their infancy when it comes to CX. Thankfully, they’re not as antiquated as we were when email marketing emerged. The difference is, today, modern organizations have the tools in place — namely CDPs — that can help drive amazing CX when the right strategies, customer data, and use cases are in place. 

The new frontier is really the battle for consumers’ attention and spend; and ultimately, companies who embrace creating trusted, real-time CX experiences throughout their customers’ lifecycle will succeed. 

Watch this CMSWire CONNECT session in demand here.