Lars Birkholm Petersen is global director of business optimization services at Sitecore, where he helps organizations use data to create connected customer experiences using innovative technology. He's consulted with hundreds of organizations to improve their use of technology in connecting with their customers.

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I invited Lars to Marketing Smarts to talk about his book, Connect: How to Use Data and Experience Marketing to Create Lifetime Customers, co-written with Ron Person and Christopher Nash. In his view, any business can use data to create personalized customer experiences that create lasting customer relationships.

The Customer Experience Maturity Model in the book (and shown below) might just change the way you approach digital marketing. (Also see Lars's MarketingProfs article: "Experience Marketing: How to Build a Customer-Centric Marketing Machine.")

Get past Likes, shares, and site traffic; use metrics aligned with business objectives (09:16): "If we look at how the Internet has changed everything in terms of marketing, I think it's important to go back to when this all started.... Many marketers at that point used those metrics that became available, so they essentially started measuring in terms of visits and pageviews, [and] time on site, and used that for reporting their success in digital marketing. And also with the rise of new channels, social, etc., we got new metrics, and in the early stages that was more like Likes and shares. Metrics that are all very easy to get a significant raise in. It's just a matter of spending more marketing dollars. Then you can prove an effect. To provide the business case for executives, we need to establish a metric that is very closely aligned to the business objectives, so it becomes more important when they evaluate the impact that they are getting form different digital channels. That's where we focus a lot in the early stages—on establishing that metric 'engagement value,' so we're able to measure what matters for the organization."

Create relevant customer experiences to achieve business objectives (11:19): "What's to create lifetime customers. The value of a lifetime customer is having someone that is loyal to the brand. Someone that will [make] repeat purchases, but also be very vocal about the brand, and that will attract other customers to the brand, and by doing so that will also lower the acquisition cost and raise the customer lifetime value.... Because [executives] most often look at how can we increase revenue, how can we reduce costs, and how can we get more out of our existing customer base. That's what we're trying to achieve here...with the Connect book and the Maturity Model. We need to establish a metric that is more important for executives, so we can create better reports and better recommendations in terms of optimization."

Stop marketing "inside out" (12:40) "The crucial going from marketing that tends to be 'inside out'—where we're focused on attracting visitors to our different digital channels—to evolve into a state where we focus on creating relevant experiences with the customer in the center. Because if we put the customer in the center and understand the different profiles we are communicating with, what their specific needs are across the customer journey, then we can better trigger what kinds of relevant experiences they should be seeing during the interactions they have with our brand."

To learn more about Lars, visit, or follow him on Twitter: @larsbirkholm.

Lars and I covered much more ground, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

The Customer Experience Maturity Model (larger image here) that Lars discussed during this episode:

This episode brought to you by the MarketingProfs Professional Development Program.

Special thanks to production sponsor Candidio, an efficient, affordable video production platform allowing marketers and communicators to collaborate and curate video content, with help from a team of professional, on-demand video editors for the finishing touches. Check them out!



Show opener music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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