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Get more out of your brand's website

The customer engagement landscape has changed dramatically over the last several years. Social media, mobile devices, e-commerce, and other digital platforms require brands to expand their marketing and business strategies. Managing all of these different touch points can seem overwhelming, but your website can act as your command center for a modern digital engagement strategy.

To stay competitive and keep pace with rapidly changing customer demands and expectations, brands should be getting the most out of their websites to facilitate best-in-class engagement practices.

Customer Engagement Needs to Improve

As the customer journey becomes more complex and winds across different channels, consumers are upping their expectations regarding brand engagement and outreach. A recent IBM study revealed that 81 percent of consumers not only expected fast response times, but demanded them from brands. Moreover, three-quarters look to brands to engage on a more personal level, viewing customers as individuals rather than demographics. Finally, 68 percent expect companies to bring a coherent, unified brand experience across all of their various touch points and channels.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done, and it's no surprise that there exists a substantial gulf between customer demands and brand execution. The CMO Council's 2017 report, "Empowering the Data-Driven Customer Strategy," discovered that only 16 percent of marketers felt their companies were successfully building customer relationships and managing them through targeted engagement strategies.

Where Gaps Have Emerged

The root of the problem is data -- specifically, the lack of available, relevant customer data. Brands simply do not have access to the kind of insightful consumer information required to make sweeping, impactful changes to their marketing strategies. The CMO Council report cast a light on some troubling trends in this regard, with only 29 percent of respondents stating that data was a driving force for organizational change, and a paltry 5 percent confirming that data-driven strategies were central to their engagement efforts.

That's not to say that marketers are ignoring the importance of data-driven customer engagement; 42 percent viewed the creation of a single comprehensive engagement strategy that brought together disparate individual campaigns as a top priority for the future. However, only 5 percent believed they had the technological foundation to meet those objectives.

Let Your Website be Your Command Center

Brands have a long way to go to achieve the kind of rapidfire, consistent and personalized engagement that customers expect, but they can begin by taking a look at their websites and making adjustments to facilitate stronger interactions and gather useful data.

One important thing to keep in mind is that websites don't need to be pure sales generators to be effective. Although it's good to have an e-commerce portal available on your site, that shouldn't be its lone objective. Your website should be a tool for outreach and to build stronger customer relationships and brand loyalty.

Web portals are golden opportunities to drive engagement and learn more about your clientele. Digital customer loyalty programs, for instance, are win-win propositions, giving consumers access to exclusive deals and promotions, while brands are able to collect profile information and bolster customer satisfaction levels.

Then there's the login process itself. Many marketers view user registration and login as a necessary evil that's relegated to the IT department. They couldn't be further from the truth; registration is a chance to drive engagement, improve the brand experience and gain access to powerful customer insights.

A social login option allows customers to quickly and easily register for a brand account without having to wade through pages of forms and painstakingly fill out fields of personal information. By syncing their new account with an existing social media presence like Facebook, users can accelerate the registration process. That information is a veritable gold mine of consumer insights for brands, allowing them to capture a fuller picture of each individual and customize engagement efforts accordingly.

Know the Unknown

The benefit of a dedicated login and registration strategy is that your brand turns a website visitor into a recognized user with a trackable record of online activity. If possible, however, you want to be able to track those unknown visitors as well. By keeping tabs on unrecognized user activity, brands can develop a clearer, more detailed map of the customer journey, identifying how an individual evolves from an unknown entity to a verified user. Those insights are essential to revamping marketing, engagement and outreach efforts to optimize touchpoints and interactions and address gaps in current strategies.

Brands can then take the lessons they've learned from individual online customer interactions and, with the help of advanced analytics tools, build out more detailed and accurate audience segments. Akamai Identity Cloud eliminates the guesswork in determining who your customers are, how they behave and what they want. Your website can give your brand a clear and complete view of your customers' journeys.

Customer Identity Matters

Your website is a central hub of your digital footprint, but there are far more touch points that need to be integrated into your broader engagement strategy: social media, mobile apps, microsites. Your customer identity and access management (CIAM) solution can bridge the gap between disparate platforms and retain a consistent view of your customers. CIAM helps brands cut through the noise of digital identities and ensure that they can provide unique and targeted customer interactions at every opportunity.