How the World’s Leading Companies Transformed Themselves into Experience Businesses

Leaders from CarMax, Rosetta Stone, Sky, SAP, and Grainger share their success stories in testing and building new user experiences.

by Adobe Communications Team

posted on 12-19-2018

When it comes to creating a compelling customer experience, sometimes it pays to take a calculated risk. At least, that’s what companies like CarMax, Sky, Rosetta Stone, Grainger, and SAP have proven.

The one thing they all have in common is that they pushed the envelope to test new experiences, they applied data to their decision-making process, and they determined the right personalized experience for their audiences, said Drew Burns, principal product marketing manager for Adobe Target. These companies’ stories about how they delivered experiences that delighted their customers show some of the investments — and chances — your company also might need to make to become an experience business.

CarMax: Using 360 photography to drive sales

When CarMax added a 360 degree photography feature, it used Adobe Target — a platform that allows companies to A/B test and optimize personalized experiences and content — to ensure the changes it made to the company’s website reaped positive results.

CarMax hoped to create visceral, immersive, interactive experiences online. According to Jake Mitchell, senior product designer at CarMax, the goal of 360 photography was to create a complete panoramic photo where customers could pan and zoom around a car, allowing CarMax to give its online customers “that same experience that you’d get when you’d be on a car lot and you’d sit in a car for the first time,” Jake said.

Through initial testing, CarMax found users who engaged with 360 photography on the website felt that same emotional connection. But CarMax stakeholders wanted to know whether the online experience also would lead to sales.

“We knew that really the only way to answer that question was to actually have real people interact with real 360s and then measure their behavior,” Jake said.

By tracking user interaction and engagement with 360 images via Adobe Target, Jake’s team found a major lift in the amount of users placing holds on cars to schedule a test drive. Car holds are the online metric the company has found is most directly tied to car sales.

Using 360 photography — a test which Jake calls the biggest and most successful in the company’s history — is now a staple on Over 90 percent of CarMax’s inventory now has 360 photography.

From real-time recommendations to one-of-a-kind web experiences: How Sky and Rosetta Stone transformed their customer experience

Rosetta Stone took a different approach when it came to transforming its customer experience. In the era of software as a service (SaaS), we might forget that software users are still accustomed to buying a product they can hold in their hands. This was the case for Rosetta Stone’s customers, many of whom associate the company with CDs that come in iconic yellow boxes.

So when Rosetta Stone decided to transition to an entirely subscription-based service, it sought to offer a meaningful site experience, using custom layout and copy, specifically for the customers most impacted by the change.

Through Adobe Analytics and email surveys, the company learned that users of some channels and devices would be more heavily impacted than others. For instance, desktop users were more likely to purchase a CD product than mobile users.

The digital team used Target and Analytics for Target (A4T) — an integration that lets companies use metrics from Adobe Analytics to analyze their optimization programs — to test layout designs, copy, and even pricing structures across specific channels and devices.

The result? From December 2016 through December 2017, the company’s SaaS orders went from less than 50 percent of Rosetta Stone’s overall orders to over 90 percent — without any decrease in revenue per visit, said Jessica Brislen, Rosetta Stone’s digital optimization manager.

For Sky Media, the U.K.’s leading entertainment and media company, its customer experience transformation was driven by a stunning realization.

“We said, ‘We’ve got all of this rich customer data and we’re not really doing anything with it in our digital channels,’” explained Rob McLaughlin, Sky’s head of digital analytics.

Using customer data and a combination of machine learning and a rules-based approach to aid in real-time decision-making, the company began to offer customers automatic, personalized product recommendations to drive upsells, retention, and service.

For instance, when a customer abandons a product in their shopping cart, the program will inform the site whether to change the ads they see for related products.

Rob says the recommendations have led to millions of pounds in incremental sales.

“We fundamentally believe that using data to be more relevant is a good thing,” he said.

Grainger & SAP: Personalizing B2B customer interactions

Data-driven personalization has allowed business-to-business (B2B) companies Grainger and SAP to customize their sites for specific industries, and even specific customers.

B2B software and services provider SAP spent two years creating a custom site experience for GE, one of its top accounts. SAP combined what it knew of its customers’ online behaviors from Adobe Analytics with insights from the company’s own marketing and GE account teams to understand specifics around GE’s account priorities and sales cycle. Using this information, SAP created an improved “GE experience,” delivered via Adobe Target and Adobe Experience Manager.

“We built this new landing page with new assets and solution topics based on their preferences and interests,” said James Skay, SAP’s head of personalization, digital platforms, and global business operations. SAP also highlighted specific support, training topics, and free trials geared toward GE. The result was a 5-percent engagement lift and a 7-percent page view lift off the landing page.

“We’ve scaled out this style of personalization, whether named or not named, in a variety of different programmatic formats,” James said.

Where SAP focused on one cornerstone client, Grainger, an online B2B retailer, worked to create a custom experience for all its customers. Grainger’s story was voted fan favorite of this Adobe Summit session.

Grainger combined data from Adobe Target and third-party software that identified which industry and which company visitors to its website came from. As a result, Grainger’s website is able to offer industry-relevant category recommendations and other custom content, as well as personalized welcome messages for specific companies.

“When you come to our website, we’ll deliver the most relevant experience based on who you are,” said Justine BaMaung, Grainger’s optimization manager.

All that relevance has led to better KPIs. The retailer saw its registration rate increase by 17 percent, and its revenue from homepage product recommendations double.

“All of this testing and targeting efforts really yielded significant results for us as a company,” Justine said.

CarMax, Sky, Rosetta Stone, Grainger, and SAP all illustrate what can happen when companies apply their data in new ways to create personalized experiences for their customers. Whether it’s to drive account-based marketing, help consumers make a better car-buying decision, or to offer custom product recommendations, every one of these companies was willing to experiment and invest valuable resources to drive a more engaging customer experience. As their results show, taking that calculated risk definitely paid off.

These five brands were honored last spring as finalists in the Adobe Experience Maker Awards at Adobe Summit, the company’s annual digital marketing conference.

Are you an Experience Maker? Apply for the 2019 Adobe Experience Maker Awards! Winners will be announced at Adobe Summit in Las Vegas.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Personalization

Products: Analytics, Campaign, Experience Manager, Target