What is Personalized Marketing?

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This post was authored by Corbin Murakami and originally appeared here on Liferay.com


Personalization is and has always been effective. Dale Carnegie once said “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” In a sense, he was making a case for adding a personal touch on our products and services. Personalization works because on some base human level, everyone looks for that personal attention.

Thanks to technology, personalization is more accessible than ever before. Now, any organization can implement personalization from digital printing to variable data and direct mailers. There’s the ability to produce thousands of mailers addressed to unique individuals with their first names on each one of them. That type of experience is available on the web at any digital touchpoint, which means organizations have the ability to provide unique customer experiences that weren’t previously possible.

What is Personalized Marketing?

To apply a specific analogy, personalized marketing is like a shopping experience at Nordstrom. When a shopper is looking for a specific pair of shoes, she’s usually approached by a sales rep who will try to assist her in getting the exact pair. She can talk with the rep, tell him what she prefers in terms of style and color, and have a real interaction. Information is exchanged in the context of getting to know someone, and both parties would benefit: the shopper receives a product she wants while Nordstrom wins new business.

In the same manner, personalized marketing is the ability to create content that specifically caters to each individual consumer. It involves an understanding of who your audience is, having captured certain pieces of information about them and leveraging that data to provide each visitor a unique user experience. Often times, web personalization will necessitate using automation and integrated channels to help with the process.

What Does Personalization Promise?

The appeal of personalized marketing is three-fold:

  • Increase conversions – Websites that employ web personalization tend to see a bump in conversions (whether that’s a basic form submission or an actual closed deal / purchase). Higher conversion rates are often tied to the fact that offers take into consideration factors such as age, gender, job role and buyer stage.
  • Lift sales figures – Companies that excel in personalized marketing tend to spend less time focusing on the quantity of leads, and more time on targeting the right leads at the right times. This would invariably lead to an increase in sales.
  • Keep more customers (retention) – Arguably as important as winning new customers and conversions, personalized marketing allows brands to keep their current customers happy and loyal. Devoting attention to a customer’s preferences builds up familiarity and comfort, which in turn translates into customer satisfaction.

The State of Personalization

Even though many companies acknowledge the necessity of personalized marketing, not many of them are pulling it off successfully. Seventy-seven percent of marketers believe that real-time personalization is crucial to their success, but only 29% of marketers are actually delivering dynamic content on their websites.

The Personalization Gap

There seems to be a gap between what they’re doing and what they want to be doing. “It is quite clear that personalization is seen as mission critical to the success of online business, but too many organizations have yet to implement a well thought-out and tested approach,” said Linus Gregoriadis, Research Director at Econsultancy.

There are various reasons for this disparity. One major reason is the roadblocks encountered when it comes to adopting new technology. According to a report by Monetate, almost half of all companies surveyed report IT roadblocks and legacy technology as major barriers to web personalization. Moreover, many organizations lack the proper resources to run tests and leverage data into personalized experiences. While many departments are making a push for advanced marketing, there is clear indication that some companies (in particular, big enterprises) rather settle than shift their entire marketing strategy.

A Web Personalization Maturity Model

Web Personalization Maturity Model

When it comes to creating content for customers, every company deals with personalization to a varying degree. Some companies might have advanced orchestration in place, while most tend to be implementing certain rules-based methods. In short, there are generally five types of personalized marketing:

  • One-to-all: Campaigns are static with no personalization. The content is created on a broad level and pushed out to everyone uniformly. There is no segmentation or optimization.
  • One-to-many: Rules-based campaigns in which rules are developed and then applied to personalization. Mostly batch campaigns with various levels of A/B testing. Rules determine the next interaction.
  • One-to-some: Models are developed for how to think about segments and audience, then used to personalize content to users. Some channels are starting to integrate personalized messaging. 
  • One-to-few: Multiple channels are integrated and moving towards a single view of customer. There is some level of continuity between online and offline messaging. Interactive marketing elements go hand-in-hand with automated segmentation.
  • One-to-one: No longer based on just models, but technology like machine learning and algorithms to make precise personalization. Communications are specifically defined by interest, interactions and auto-decisions which are delivered at the right time.

For most companies, the hardest challenge tends to be migrating from one-to-some to one-to-few. This involves moving from single offers and campaign flows to technical solutions that can handle true interactive marketing. It also means having to ensure alignment across the entire company, which could often mean a reformation of legacy systems, processes and/or staff.

As a whole, the market seems to be moving towards one-to-one personalization. This would include a knowledge of the visitor as defined by their preferences and interactions on the site. On a broader scale, it means adapting the overall customer experience to become more technologically enhanced and data-driven.

However, organizations shouldn’t feel pressured to implement one-to-one immediately. Teams may not always have the proper resources or channels in place to effectively carry out some of these advanced marketing tactics. In fact, a bad personalization experience is much worse than having no personalization. Instead, the goal should be trying to incrementally improve personalization deliverability and eventually moving up the maturity model. (In other words, progress.)

Final Thoughts

All enterprises should know that personalization is an imperative. It’s no longer good enough to send or blast messages to entire groups of people. Regardless of personalization stage, every organization should make it a point to move towards more interactive channels of marketing. The more people feel comfortable and familiar with a brand, the more they will give their loyalty and respect.

Liferay DXP vs. Liferay 6.2 : Interview with VP of Solutions, Nick Quach

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In this exclusive interview, Nick Quach, VP of Solutions at Veriday and resident Liferay expert, sits down with Veriday CEO, Marc Lamoureux, to discuss Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform), the latest and greatest Liferay platform. In this discussion, we will hear about what’s new and innovative, what changes you’ll see from the previous versions, what new business challenges it can solve and when an organization might choose to migrate over.

Nick has extensive experience using and implementing the Liferay platforms, including Liferay DXP, for a wide range of solutions, clients, and industries.


Marc: It’s Marc Lamoureux and Nick Quach from Veriday. We’re here to talk about Liferay DXP (Digital Experience Platform). To start off this discussion, I thought I’d ask you, in your experience, what kind of customers traditionally would be using Liferay?

Nick: I think one of the strengths of Liferay, even before DXP was introduced, is the fact that they have always prided themselves on providing a platform versus providing a product. What that allows the end customer to do is to use that platform to deliver their requirements in however many ways they need.

So, whether an organization is using it for a corporate intranet (which is probably one of the most prolific use cases for the platform out there), using it to build simple web sites, or using it to engage their customers. Whether it’s a B2B or an e-commerce type engagement, Liferay has them covered.

I think for us the diversity of the Liferay client base is probably what’s most compelling and what’s most telling about the actual platform itself.

The distribution of what we actually see clients using Liferay platforms for is quite broad compared to what we would see in the more traditional web content management system like WordPress, that are only used in situations where someone is looking to build websites. You see Liferay being deployed in a much more diverse manner.

Marc: Interesting; so traditionally Liferay has described itself as a “portal platform”, but now they’ve rebranded the product to the platform “DXP” (Digital Experience Platform). Talk to us a little bit about why they made that change and what do you think is behind the positioning of a product from portal to digital experience?

Nick: Liferay itself has always been a platform, however it was called Liferay portal because the problems that we were trying to solve 10 years ago dictated what most of the organizations were using Liferay for. A lot of the organizations that were interested in portal technologies already had a dispersed set of software in-house with information separated into different subsystems. These organizations were looking for a technology that would allow them to consolidate the data into a single touch point with the benefit of providing a more seamless customer experience, which is where the term “portal” came from.

The use case was to provide a more seamless customer experience, to provide a one-stop shop for their clients, allowing them to access everything they needed in one place. The portal was typically viewed as a system engaged with a touch point in which an organization could interact and communicate with their client.

Five years ago it was really about collaboration and aggregation, it was really about getting people onto a platform that allowed them to communicate. But the world has changed and what we’re seeing today is not so much a fundamental shift in the way people are viewing technology but the way in which people want to consume technology. I think that’s what’s really driving Liferay and the platform and where we see the marketing of the platform heading.

Before, portals used to solve the problem of “I have a lot of data and I need to be able to consolidate that data in a single touch point” but now it’s more about “I have a lot of data but I want to be able to engage with my client in whatever fashion they choose to be engaged”. It’s no longer about just aggregating the data but also using it to engage the customer. Your system is now part of a greater ecosystem of engagement, providing consistency between interactions with clients.

Marc: Let’s say I’m currently using Liferay to engage with customers. When I see that Liferay released the DXP platform, what would you want to convey to me about new tools, or features that provide better opportunities for engagement and improvement in customer experience?

Nick: Well, I think it would be naive of me to of sit here and list all the new features feature-by-feature that Liferay DXP offers but I would tell them that if you’re already using Liferay, the engagement model doesn’t need to change. What I would challenge them to do is to think about how you could extend your engagement model.

My main point in an explanation to a customer would be to consider your engagement model and think about how you could increase the number and quality of touch points in which you interact with the client.

So, for example, if you’re in a B2B context, there are a lot of different channels in which an  organization can interact with their business clients and so regardless of the channel, how do you take all the data provided by the channel, all the various engagement models and how can you use the platform to provide you with not only insight, but a richer engagement?

Liferay DXP allows businesses to increase engagement by having tools in place that can capture and analyze data and provide a more personalized experience depending on the situation, providing different offerings or information depending on their situation, whether the customer is using a desktop or a mobile device.

It’s all about engaging people in different ways, for example if the client was attending an event in which you were hosting a booth, could you interact with them in a way that lets them know “we’re just around the corner from you, come pay us a visit” and offers them an incentive to visit? You already have a good solid foundation to engage with your customer, but what else can you do to engage more seamlessly in other medium. How can you use DXP to deliver that engagement?  Then, and only then, we can start talking about some of the new capabilities that DXP is offering.

Marc: It sounds like the customer experience can change for people who are engaging with these websites or forms. A more personal experience can be provided, with real time enablement, so you can respond to all the data you have about that customer and become more engaging over time. Basically it boils down to thinking “with a digital DXP platform I’m going to get a much, much more personal experience”?

Nick: Absolutely. The idea of real-time engagement, the idea of personalized engagement and the idea of omni-channel engagement, where regardless of how you are interacting with a client, the experience is seamless and they will get the same consistent customer experience regardless of which touch point they are using to interact with your business.

I think the real key here is “what do you look for in technology and what do you look for in a platform that will allow you to engage with your client that way.”

Marc: If you’re a current Liferay customer and looking to make the move to DXP, what are some of the business or technology issues you have to be thinking through on the way to making that move?”

Nick: That’s a bit of a tricky question to answer due to the fact that Liferay is a platform with a diverse range of use cases. Not every client is going to be the same. That being said, nearly every single business is looking for ways to increase their business capacity. Whether that’s through sales, more efficient communication or by any other means, whatever their method is the Liferay DXP platform can enhance the experience of client interaction. This makes their business processes more efficient through providing a platform that allows the customer and the business to communicate and engage.

Regardless of what your use case is, what I would do is ask “what are you using the platform for?”. Whether it’s  B2B, B2C or an e-commerce situation, you must ask, “how do you engage with your customer and how can you do it better?”. How do you look at that engagement model and say, “can I provide a better experience? Can I provide a more seamless experience?”

Whatever you were using Liferay for in the past you can continue to do it. You’re going to get a lot of new features so even if you choose not to look at engaging your customer differently, you’re going to get new features, new capabilities and you’re going to get a product that is going to be able to meet the standards of web technology today.

Marc: So from a business consideration the first recommendation is just to think through your engagement model, your strategy, what you want the customer experience to be and then plan those components against the new platform?

Nick: Absolutely, and then also look at how to utilize the platform in your greater ecosystem.

Typically we used to think about platforms (and Liferay in general) as an engagement system but we always typically looked at Liferay being THE engagement system, i.e. “this is where you go to engage”.

What we’re seeing in the industry today and what we’re seeing with DXP is now the platform has the capability to be part of a greater ecosystem, a component in the Internet of Things. It allows you to look at Liferay DXP as not solely just the primary engagement model but a component of the greater engagement model.

However, what you’re getting from the platform is the ability to use a consolidated capability. You’ret not losing the ability to consolidate data and the ability to have a lot of systems underneath that you need to interact with.. You still get a lot of benefit in that sense however, you can start to challenge your thinking about what engagement means. DXP doesn’t stop at DXP. It has the potential to be used in a greater ecosystem as part of the Internet of Things.

Marc: So in preparation for this conversation I was reading a little bit about Liferay DXPs technology platform and it seemed to me that there are opportunities for some technologists to make some improvement in the way they build and deploy these engagements/experiences. Talk a little bit about the opportunities that exist in the technology.

Nick: Of course, we already discussed Liferay DXP and what business challenges the platform is trying to solve and one of the things we haven’t talked about so far is the trend in the industry: that development is moving faster than we’ve ever seen before. The internet is constantly changing now, whereas before it used to change maybe once per year. What we’re seeing as a result is a greater need for modularity, platforms that will allow us to change capabilities, add, remove and update features in a safe way so that we can meet business goals quicker, cheaper and more efficiently.

I think that ability to change and evolve is fundamental to any platform that you’re looking for. So we’re not just looking at how to engage but how to select a platform that allows you to stay current with how quickly things are moving in the industry.

One of the key features of Liferay DXP is it’s move to modularity. Liferay spent a considerable effort to re-architect the platform. They’ve introduced a technology called OSGI which is very technical but put simply it’s a framework for modularity that allows Liferay (the platform) to be separated into separate components.  Everything that you do and interact with on the platform is a component in itself and you can add (or remove) components into the platform without having to disturb the platform itself.

The modularity brought to Liferay DXP by OSGI means users are looking at an increased agility, allowing you to quickly and easily develop new features and capabilities to your end customer.

Marc: So are the implications of the modularity that if I’m using DXP as a technologist, that I have a chance to make it extremely light (for a technology platform) and able to run really fast, really only using a small number of features?. On the other side, I am also able to turn on lots of robust features and drive a different kind of model. Would I have that kind of flexibility?

Nick: Absolutely! The ability to customize the platform is unparalleled to what was in Liferay 6. Having said that, Liferay has always been the strongest vendor in terms of providing “hooks” or “extension points” into their platform that allow you to customize the platform to your desires.

Liferay DXP has taken that flexibility and has increased it a hundred-fold so that now with modularity you can run a much slimmer, or heavier version of the platform, whatever you choose.

You can add new capabilities and alter what is provided out of the box much easier than you ever could before and in a very safe manner where it protects your code, your intellectual property which you are deploying or creating on the platform. It also allows Liferay to be able to update its system more readily so that it can provide new features and capabilities to the market in ways that it never could before.

While there is a steeper learning curve than previous versions of Liferay, the technology only shifted, not changed completely. Having said that the product is relatively new and is only now starting to be fully understood. I think the learning curve will solve itself over time.

Marc: Let’s talk a little bit about the reputation of Liferay. Traditionally, Liferay has been viewed as a really strong technology platform that is extremely cost-effective because of their business model and how they deliver a combination of open-source fundamentals but for an annual subscription model. How does the DXP release preserve that value?

Nick: I think if anything the DXP release increases that value proposition for customers. The cost hasn’t changed between DXP and Liferay 6. Materially you’re still looking at a platform that delivers a much lower cost of ownership than any of its competitors.  

Compared to Transfer Portal by IBM, compared to WebLogic, compared to Adobe Experience Manager, Liferay DXP is still a fraction of the cost of onboarding when compared to other competitive products. The ROI doesn’t stop there. Outside of the cost of acquisition I think what you’re going to see is the cost of ownership further reduced due to modularity. The ability to provide new capabilities, develop, extend and test the platform, with modularity, in a very safe manner is going to increase your ROI. Outside of the original cost of acquisition of the product, you’re going to see that the ROI benefits of DXP are going to be greater than what we’ve traditionally seen in the past.

Marc: Interesting, so if we wanted to recommend to the audience how to learn more about DXP, what would you suggest they do? With the technical community? With the business community?

Nick: From a technical perspective, Liferay provides resources online. Dev.liferay.com is a great resource if you enjoy reading code. Liferay is still a proponent of open source so there is a Liferay 7.0 which is the open-source version of the DXP offering. For the most part the two are very close. The code base is 99% the same so Liferay doesn’t hide anything. You can look at the source code, you can read the documentation and forms online. The community is still strong and so there are a number of ways to get information and tangible experience; play with the product if you so choose. You can also get trial versions of DXP as well.

From a technology perspective, I think being open source and the vibrant community that Liferay offers really maximizes your ability to learn and engage with Liferay, which is largely unchanged from previous generations.

From a business perspective I think there are a lot of ways to engage with Liferay. You can reach out to partners like ourselves, here at Veriday, to walk you through the thinking in terms of where we may be able to help you view your current offerings differently, how you can potentially engage your clients better, and how you can leverage what Liferay DXP offers in a way that is going to provide you with a greater ROI.

You can also always engage Liferay and their sales channel, or look at the plethora of literature available online (blog posts, podcasts, ebooks etc). There are a lot of different ways that you could get information from a business perspective

I believe that one of the things you’ve got to look at before you even think about a platform is: how do you want to engage with your clients today? How do you want to engage with your clients tomorrow? How do you look for a platform that gives you all the tools you need to engage with your customers in a way that provides you with all the benefits we previously mentioned?

Marc: Good stuff. I think that’s enough for one day. As Nick mentioned, you can reach us at Veriday.com if you’d like more information. You can also drop us a line on Twitter (@VeridayHQ). We’d be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding Liferay itself or Liferay DXP. We look forward to talking to you again on our next podcast. Thank you very much!


That wraps up our interview with Nick Quach. Stay tuned for more interviews, with our Liferay experts, about Liferay DXP, the newest digital experience platform.

In the next part of our series, we will be sitting down with Sam Hyland, Service Delivery Lead here at Veriday, to discuss the new technological features that you can expect to see in Liferay DXP. As always, if you want to continue the discussion, you can reach out to us on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

How can you improve your customers’ digital experience? [Infographic]


Why is a digital customer experience strategy important for businesses? First of all, 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. In a real in-store shopping experience, customers tend to be more forgiving and far less quick to assign blame than in the digital world. In the digital world, the blame for a bad experience is immediately put on the organization and as a result of the digital revolution, customers ultimately have higher expectations for digital experiences.

Below is an infographic elaborating on why digital customer experience is important and 3 keys to ensure your business has an effective one.

An effective digital customer experience is centered around having a solid understanding of your customer, including knowing their age, what they value, challenges they face, their goals and so on.  Answering these questions and mapping your customer’s journey can help you identify what is missing from their perspective and experience.

A consumer’s impression of a brand is made up of many individual touch points; it is the sum of every experience a consumer has with your brand. With the number of different touch points on the rise, it is important that you take into account that each interaction with your brand is a piece of the overall experience.

Companies can continuously learn from the actions and behaviors of their consumers, and evolve the experience to match it. Use your customer data to anticipate the behavior of your customers, and plan for the future, instead of just reacting to what your customers are doing right now.


Digital Transformation in the Age of Digital Disruption


This post was authored by Adrian Johnson and originally appeared here on Liferay.com

It isn’t possible to read a news article or open a newspaper without reading about Digital Transformation. From consultants and software vendors to infrastructure providers and analysts everyone is talking about digital transformation and how it can improve customer experience, increase revenue streams and improve operations.

So what defines digital transformation?

Capgemini Consulting writes: The use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.

Thought leader Brian Solis of Altimeter Group defines it as: The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.

Technology is an important component of digital transformation but the most successful stories feature organisations that combine digital activity with strong leadership to empower digital transformation. These businesses also recognise it is a major change management program. Technology alone can’t deliver a transformation. Organisations need to understand what their customer wants at any given moment in time. Think about how to effectively engage customers and think about all the touchpoints that customers have across their entire lifecycle.

Customers hold the power in the digital age

In recent years there has been a marked increase in the power of the customer. Customers now have the power of choice as barriers to change continue to lower and anyone can change suppliers, find a new vendor, or new source of services or goods.

As a result of the power shift to the customer, churn is now a key risk. Previously organisations could rely on a certain amount of loyalty from customers or apathy as change was often difficult. However, new technology and digital platforms have made it easier for customers to shop around and look for better services or value for their money.

Customers are expecting unique and tailored services that meet their needs. Generic processes that appeal to the masses are no longer acceptable. We live in an always on, just in time, on-demand world and if your organisation can’t offer personalised customer service your customer will find a company that can. Customers are no longer willing to put up with average service delivered to the masses. A single experience or interaction impacts customer satisfaction and therefore customer loyalty is often fleeting.

Digital transformation or digital disruption?

Repeatedly the organisations representing successful digital transformation in the new-age economy are Uber or Airbnb – but are they really digitally transforming?

It’s possible to make the case that these organisations are in fact digital disruptors not digital transformers. The challenges faced by legacy organisations are very different to an Uber or Airbnb business. These new disrupters didn’t encounter the challenge of changing existing systems in the same way that legacy organisations must. Maintaining existing business, managing current systems, dealing with operational processes and business models – these factors make digital transformation far more complex.

Feedback from our customers points to some of the main challenges of digital transformation:

·       Internal silos between business units and systems

·       Legacy systems that contain essential customer information were never designed to expose the data

·       Change leader to head the initiative across the organisations to drive digital transformation

·       Budgets being continually squeezed

·       Integration of organisation-wide systems

In fact a recent Forrester study identified that among customer experience decision makers the biggest technical barrier to customer-facing systems was inadequate integration with back-office systems.
Vendor Landscape: Digital Experience Portals, Mark Grannan, Forrester, 4 January 4, 2016

In light of the challenges a question we hear at Liferay consistently is “How do I solve the real problem of delivering our services across channels in a practical, valuable way to our customer?”

Use a platform that will enable flexibility

The answer most commonly is to start with a platform with all the core components in one place and mitigate the risk in acting on a digital trend.

It’s not about trying to do everything at once, start somewhere but choose a platform that provides flexibility to extend and develop. Today’s businesses are constantly discovering new ideas, new source of growth and new initiatives that they want to unlock so they shouldn’t be inhibited by a digital platform.

We regularly see software development being a key differentiator as it enables organisations to develop on top of the platform selected at the start and deliver new projects. Agility to be flexible – in order to adapt and evolve as the market or your business changes – is critical as it’s difficult to predict what will change and how the competition will evolve. Therefore, flexibility in your chosen platform is key to overcoming these challenges.

Digital Experience Platforms to Power Digital Transformation

The concept of a digital experience platform (DXP) is now emerging as horizontal portal and content management systems (CMS) technologies converge. As businesses require a broad range of capabilities to deliver the necessary personalised customer experience a system with limited features is not enough.

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals 2016 identified: The primary catalyst for change in the horizontal portal market is the response to digital business transformation: the evolution of traditional portal into the digital experience platform. The DXP reflects a business-driven focus on improving customer, partner and employee experiences across digital and physical channels.
Gartner “Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals” by Jim Murphy, Gene Phifer, Gavin Tay, Magnus Revang, 17 October 2016.

Responding to business’ need to manage and deliver hyper personalised experiences across every digital touchpoint Liferay introduced Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP). Liferay DXP is the next advancement of the Liferay portal platform redesigned and extended with greater capabilities for digital businesses. At the core of DXP is the portal acting as the integration layer connecting backend systems across business operations so that companies can give consistent and unified experiences to customers, partners and employees.

Align your business to better serve customers and attract new ones

So, whether you are just starting a digital transformation or you’re reviewing progress to date some key points are worth remembering:

  • Your customer should be at the heart of any transformation strategy – think about their experience and journey in every interaction with your organisation.
  • Digital Transformation is not just about technology; operational processes and people are just as critical to success
  • Silos within operations and systems are causing some of the greatest challenges – think about how you can incentivise the entire organisation to deliver a seamless experience and integrate all touchpoints.
  • Digital is constantly evolving so choose technology that allows your organisation to be flexible.
  • Start small and prove the concept, then grow from there.

2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals

Read what Gartner says about the role of horizontal portals in delivering on digital experience initiatives and key findings and recommendations in the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Horizontal Portals. Plus, find out why Liferay is named a Leader in the report for the 7th consecutive year.

What is the first step in a Website Design? The Customer comes first.

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So, you’ve decided that it is about time to change or re-brand your website. When redesigning your website, what comes to mind first? Do you start thinking about the content, what to showcase on the website, or do you start thinking of the layout and graphics? As tempting as those may sound, you’re ignoring one of the most important things – your customers. The most important step to a website design is understanding your target audience; how they want to use your website, and what they want to see. Or, as Steve Jobs put it, “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology, not the other way around.”

Everything starts with the customer. It is difficult to create a website for a customer that you don’t fully understand. Building a website before getting to know the needs of your target audience can lead to a mismatch of experience. Are you targeting avid smartphone users but don’t keep in mind the variety of smartphone screen resolutions? Is the website able to showcase your product or service’s value proposition in 8 seconds (which is the average human’s attention span)? These questions are asked when building out your product so using the same type of steps seems logical when creating a website for your audience to discover your product or service.

So, where do you start?

  1. Assess the target market: This is very important, and commonly overlooked. What is the demographic that you’re trying to reach? What are their habits when it comes to researching online? Take the time to research everything about your buyer by interviewing current customers, ideal customers, and even prospects that haven’t purchased your product or service. As Bill Gates once said, “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Gathering this information will help to identify and understand who is visiting your site, what they are doing on your site, and what exactly they hope to accomplish from visiting your site. After all, if you don’t know what your customers want and need, then you won’t know how to give it to them. This will help you identify the main objective and goals of your website redesign. Fully understanding your customer gives each page of your website design a clear purpose and will guide every website decision that you make.
  2. Assess the competitors: What types of websites do your competitors have? Conducting a competitive analysis is an important part of a website design. This will give you a good idea of how to differentiate, how to beat them, or where you should focus your efforts. Understanding your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses is necessary to improving your competitive edge. It is also helpful to assess your competitors’ websites through the eyes of your target market. This will help you to build a strategy on how to effectively design your website with the objective of guiding your target audience through the buyer’s journey.
  3. Focus on implementing your customer’s wants and needs: This is where you start implementing the wants and needs of your target audience. After all, your best salesperson (your website) needs to be equipped to support your buyer’s journey. Take the data you have and use that to guide the design of your website. First, start with the needs. Things like mobile functionality and a responsive design were wants a decade ago, but now they are a universal need. This means that it should be a seamless experience throughout your website when it is used on different platforms. During the initial website creation, think about the goals, questions and concerns your buyers may have along the way.
  4. Build the website, test, launch, then repeat every so often. Creating a website isn’t a static process. While understanding the target audience is definitely the first step in a website design, you can’t just forget about them after your website is launched. After your website has launched, test it with your audience, and use visitor data to constantly improve and evolve your website with the customer journey.

Is Digital Transformation in your Organization’s Future?

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Digital transformation has become an overused phrase in the workplace. According to Forbes, digital transformation is the use of technologies to radically improve the performance or reach of an enterprise. 78% of respondents across a wide range of industries said that achieving digital transformation is a priority for them within the next 2 years (MIT Center for Digital Business). But, what does this mean and how can you leverage digital transformation to your organization’s advantage?

In business, digital transformation can involve changes to the foundational components of an organization; from its operating model to its digital infrastructure. A transformation program touches every function of a business; from marketing and sales to operations. The process of digital transformation can be expensive and risky. Generally speaking, businesses that go through this transformation are the ones that have failed to evolve and keep up with their industry, and as a result, are playing catch up.

For large organizations, digital transformation takes a significant amount of resources and time, a cross-functional set of business skills, and a strong understanding of customer and employee needs in regards to their digital experiences with your organization. Putting your organization through digital transformation can be a risky process, although, if done right, it can produce great benefits for your employees, clients, and organization.

Keep in mind that digital transformation is not for every organization. Organizations that continue to foster a culture of constant evolution and cross-functional collaboration are always transforming. Organizations that aren’t constantly evolving and adapting are generally the ones that need digital transformation to be able to compete with competitors in their industry.

Employee productivity

In recent years, there has been a heavier focus on digital initiatives in most (if not all) industries. Businesses are starting to see digital initiatives as a means to help better engage customers externally and employees internally. 58% of businesses surveyed now look to digital to help sell profitably and 56% of businesses assess the impact of digital in relation to customer experience (Accenture).

On an internal level, digital transformation has the potential to empower your workforce. Implementing the right digital tools can help ease the collaboration process across departments and geography within your organization. Done right, digital transformation can help integrate and streamline entire business processes. A streamlined process means fewer unnecessary emails, errors and delays since workflows are being assigned to the correct employees. Through features like role-based workflows, you are able to assign tasks to specific individuals, which in turn will reduce the amount of work that falls through the cracks. With the ability to add, edit, share and collaborate on essential data, your teams can resolve problems more quickly and in real-time, which in turn can help your organization not only meet, but exceed client needs.

For more information on elevating employee engagement by going digital, click here.

Customer experience

Being productive, and efficient internally is important for an organization because a good customer experience starts with your internal team. With well-functioning internal processes, your customer experience has a significantly better chance of being successful.

A study done by Forrester Consulting concluded that 63% of organizations planned to improve their online customer experiences this year. Digital transformation is a customer-driven business transformation initiative rather than a strictly technical challenge. Throughout the customer journey, customers will interact with your organization across more than one channel within their journey. It’s important to ensure that the customer experience across all of your channels is consistent and positive, especially on the digital front.

Increase in sales

Companies that have embraced digital transformation are 26% more profitable than their average industry competitors and enjoy a 12% higher market valuation (MIT Center for Digital Business). While sales are important, what is more important is gaining the knowledge of how those sales are made. In today’s digital age, most consumers will almost exclusively interact with and learn about organizations through digital channels. With a better understanding of your customers, an increase in productivity and an improved overall customer experience, your organization will not only become more profitable but will have also build a stronger brand. By having a positive, well rounded brand reputation, your organization is more likely to succeed in retaining clients and converting prospects, especially when they are deciding between you and a competitor.

Promotes a positive and forward-thinking company culture

According to PA Consulting, only 26% of people think their firm has the right mindset to survive and thrive in the digital age. Across the three dimensions of digital transformation – organization, operational process, and technology – businesses are making strides, but they are still struggling with traditional silos and lack of alignment (Accenture). Many firms are stuck offering an “average” digital experience, meaning that they have a limited understanding of what to do next, how to do it, and how to measure the success of each digital experience. Embracing technology and using it to improve your organization’s business processes and engagement rates can create a company culture that encourages creativity and innovation.

Through the process of digital transformation (although it is different for every organization), you are working towards improving the way you run your business, how your employees interact within the organization, and how your external communication channels can improve. The process of planning how your organization will go through digital transformation and enhance business processes can promote out-of-the-box and creative thinking. By taking the initiative to innovate and change big things within your company, you are cultivating an environment that is open to change and improvement. Creating a company culture where development and creativity is encouraged can promote a positive, innovative, and forward-thinking company culture that you can be proud of.

Not one person alone can make digital transformation happen. It requires a company-wide buy in, strong collaboration, and executive advocacy. The motivation can’t come solely from the C-suite. The brainstorming and input on the transformation process must come from all levels of an organization. Take a look at the image below, courtesy of Bobby Albert. 96% of problems are not known to top managers. This statistic speaks to the importance of ensuring every individual in your organization has a say in regards to modifying processes, making improvements, and how to go about your organizations’ digital transformation.

Digital Transformation Iceberg
Now is the time for organizations to re-examine their businesses processes before they are left too far behind in the digital age. In a time where digital is transforming how we do things, it is more important than ever to ensure that your organization is evolving and reacting to the changing digital times.


The Business Case for Liferay DXP

3 Keys to a Better Digital Customer Experience


Every second, Google processes over 40,000 search queries, which translates to over 2.5 billion searches per day, and 1.2 trillion searches per year. Every minute of every day, nearly 700,000 pieces of content are shared on Facebook, and 571 new websites are created. Most importantly, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. The fact that consumers are going through the majority of the buyer’s journey online means that your corporate or brand’s digital customer experience is one of the most important assets in the marketing world today. In fact, it is predicted that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator (Source).

So, why is a digital customer experience strategy important for businesses? First of all, as many as 89% of consumers began doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Additionally, research by Forrester found that the revenue impact from a 10-percentage-point improvement in a company’s customer experience score can translate into more than $1 billion.

In a real in-store shopping experience, customers tend to be more forgiving and far less quick to assign blame than in the digital world. In the digital world, the blame for a bad experience is immediately put on the organization and as a result of the digital revolution, customers ultimately have higher expectations for digital experiences.

It is more important than ever that your organization delivers an online experience that supports and nurtures prospects along the entire customer journey. Being “digital” is no longer just about having a great website. Nowadays, businesses need to consider a range of touchpoints including mobile, tablets, social media, websites, apps and more.

So, how can you build a strong digital experience? Here are three of the most important keys to delivering consistently great online experiences.

Know Your Customers

Think about who your customers are:

  • How old are they?
  • What gender are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • What do they value?
  • What are their challenges?
  • What are their goals?
  • What do they care most about? What motivates them?
  • What engages them?
  • How do they want to connect with you?

Answering these questions, and mapping your customer’s journey can help you identify what is missing from their perspective and experience.

A good digital customer experience is centered on having a solid understanding of your customer, including knowing the answers to the questions above. Companies are finding that a better understanding of their customers and their journey can lead to significant business results. This means catering your customers throughout all of their interactions with your brand or organization – not just when they are ready to buy, or during and after a sale. After all, it is often the little details that your customers recall. Map your customer’s journey and cater to your customers’ touchpoints, individual problems, interests, needs, and wants. Delivering the best digital experience is ultimately about knowing your customers like the back of your hand; delivering the best experience at the right time, and through the right channels.

Keep the Experience Consistent

A consumer’s impression of a brand is made up of many individual touch points; it is the sum of every experience a consumer has with your brand. With the number of different touch points on the rise, it is important that you take into account that each interaction with your brand is a piece of the overall experience. When companies provide inconsistent digital experiences, the consumer ends up with a negative impression of the brand (…and it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative experience).

Ensure all of your channels work together to create one seamless experience. Will customers pull up your website on their mobile devices or tablets and be just as pleased if they were to pull it up on their desktop? 9 out of 10 consumers expect a consistent cross-channel experience, but 87% feel brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless experience (Source). Consistency is the key to making your customers happy, and turning them into loyal ambassadors.

Evolve the Experience

How do companies constantly redefine and evolve desired experiences to meet and exceed their customers’ expectations? The shift to digital has created a unique opportunity for companies to measure, analyze, experiment and tweak in real-time. By digging into digital analytics, you can tap into trends, and gain detailed data driven insights and perceptions to apply to your evolving digital experience.

Companies can continuously learn from the actions and behaviors of their consumers, and evolve the experience to match it. Use your customer data to anticipate the behavior of your customers, and plan for the future, instead of just reacting to what your customers are doing right now.


By 2020, the demand for an omnichannel customer experience will be amplified by the need for nearly perfect execution (Source). Sure, it can be hard to deliver a consistent experience and redefine your digital experience in real time. Especially given that the underlying technology ecosystems have grown more complex due to new communication channels. But, if you take advantage of the platforms out there it can be much more doable. One example of a digital experience platform is Liferay. The Liferay Digital Experience Platform (DXP) is designed to help companies create and manage experiences that support the end-to-end customer relationship. With Liferay DXP, digital innovation leaders can enable every business unit in the enterprise to serve the customer consistently, by integrating deeply with business operations and continuously building a better understanding of the customer with every interaction.

The Future of Customer Service is Online Self-Service Portals

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We’ve all been there. We have all been on the receiving end of the frustrating “hold music” when you’ve called an organization to resolve an issue. “One moment please. Your call is important to us. A representative will be with you shortly”…repeated… again….and again. Being put on hold when you call a customer-service department has become a fact of life. In fact, according to a survey by ResearchNow, the average person will spend 43 days on hold with automated customer service in one lifetime. Unfortunately, when people think about calling a customer service line, it is usually accompanied by negative and unenthusiastic feelings.

Consider these scenarios as well: Have you ever waited in line for an ATM machine even though there is nobody in line for the teller inside the bank? Have you ever arrived at an airport and chose to use a kiosk, rather then going to a person at the desk, despite being no line? Often, as consumers, we try to avoid situations where we can’t help ourselves in some shape or form. A recent study by Zendesk confirmed that 67% of respondents prefer self-service to speaking to a company representative.

Online self-service is becoming one of the most popular channels by which customers are looking to resolve problems and learn more about organizations. Today’s digital customers are happier when they can manage and complete their tasks at any time they want, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Is your brand delivering on what customers want?

Consider these facts:

  • 3 out of 4 consumers prefer to solve their customer service issue on their own (aspect)
  • 90% of consumers expect an organization to offer self-service customer support portal; 60% of consumers have a more favorable view of the brand if the self-service offering is mobile responsive (parature)
  • 73% of consumers want the ability to solve product/service issues on their own; one-third say they’d rather ‘clean a toilet’ than speak with customer service (parature)
  • 91% of survey respondents said they would use an online knowledge base if it were available and tailored to their needs (zendesk)
  • 75% of consumers move to another channel when online customer service fails, and Forrester estimates that unnecessary service costs to online retailers due to channel escalation are $22 million on average

Why self-service?

As consumers, we like to schedule appointments, troubleshoot problems, change a reservation, ask billing questions, get status updates, seek technical support, access FAQs, and ask our own questions, with minimal human interaction.

There are 3 underlying themes as to why consumers prefer online self-service:

  1. According to a survey done by zendesk, 75% of survey respondents said that self-service is a convenient way to address customer service issues. Customers can do it any time they want and take as long as they need.  Phone and email support can’t measure up to the timeliness of online self-service.
  2. Additionally, customers want online self-service for efficiency. Forrester found that 77% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service. Customers do not long for conversation and don’t want to be waiting in a queue to talk to a person, only to be transferred to a different department after already waiting. They want to get online, find what they are looking for, click around, and be done – as painlessly as possible, so that they can get back to what they were doing before they had the issue.
  3. Lastly, customers want control. Customers are increasingly being empowered to do almost anything themselves online. They do not want to have to rely on other people to do what they can do themselves. The customer does not want to give up control to the company but would prefer to take it into their own hands. Give your customers service on their own terms, not yours. 

Why self-service is also great news for companies

Online self-service is not only a good thing for customers. The shift towards online self-service is hugely beneficial for companies as well:

  1. Online self-service keeps your customers engaged with your brand and website.  A self service portal allows you to manage your customer relationships in a scalable way, as your company grows.
  2. Centralizes information and tools so that customers will always know where to find the information that they need.
  3. Online self-service provides companies with insight that simple website analytics can’t provide. Companies can track what their customers are doing on their self-service portals to get a clearer picture of their customers and experience with the brand.  This allows companies to continuously improve the experience based on observing what their customers are doing.
  4. Online self service portals are the most cost-efficient customer service channel.  A well built self service centre has the potential to be huge cost-savings for organizations.  By allowing your customers to track information online, in one place, you can lower the number of calls coming into your customer support centre


Customers are making it clear that they are eager for effective self-service. But, they have also made it clear that the self-service experience that they want must perform seamlessly. Online self-service is only convenient, efficient, and control granting if you are giving your customers a great experience. On the flip side, a negative self-service experience provides your customers with an inconvenient and frustrating experience, forcing them to switch channels to get their issue resolved, which can be quite costly for the company.

So, how can your organization create an online self-service experience that lives up to customer expectations? Stay tuned for a new post, coming soon, where we will discuss the keys to creating a self-service experience that supports your customers and brand.

The Evolution of FinTech: Infographic


The Evolution of FinTech

Financial Technology, or FinTech, has recently emerged as its own industry, consisting of companies that use technology to make financial systems more efficient for their customers. According to statista, “As of February 2015, bank spending on new technologies in North America was projected to reach 17 billion U.S. dollars in 2015 and increase to 19.9 billion in 2017.”  FinTech involves areas such as:

  • Mobile payments
  • Big data
  • Alternative finance
  • Financial management
  • Equity financing

FinTech investment has grown by 27% globally per year since 2008. That’s 14% more than the Silicon Valley’s investment growth.

In a rapidly growing industry, you want to keep up with trends that could make or break your business. As a Financial Advisor, it is important to be aware of what FinTech is and how it can affect and help your business.

The infographic below, courtesy of RainFin, walks you through the evolution of the FinTech industry – where it began and how far it’s come.


Infographic on the evolution of FinTech

The Anatomy of The Connected Consumer in the Digital Landscape


The Internet has molded the way we are as consumers. Now a days, more and more consumers use the Internet to quickly find the information they are looking for in seconds. People are evolving into a new type of consumer,  “the connected consumer”. They also want the option to choose when, where, and how they are interacting with brands. As a result, the consumer landscape has evolved and changed drastically since the days of traditional media such as TV commercials and radio ads.

Despite how connected consumers are, they are harder to reach than ever. Research suggests that 30 seconds or less is how long consumers typically spend absorbing digital marketing content. 30 seconds?!?!? This isn’t even enough time to make a coffee. How are we as marketers supposed to engage our target audience in less time than it takes to make a coffee?

Each interaction consumers have with your brand is a piece of the overall experience.  So, what is the best way to reach and engage the consumer? The Infographic below, courtesy of Gigya, highlights the key qualities of the connected consumer to help your organization more effectively reach, engage and convert your customers in the digital age.

Anatomy Infographic