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When you're building a new house, you find yourself buying a lot of stuff.  You find yourself shopping even more.  The most critical challenge for marketers is to maximize the likelihood that prospective customers transition from the latter of those two activities to the former; more simply, marketers strive to turn those who shop at their stores (whether brick and mortar or online) into buyers.  Two of my recent home building-related shopping experiences highlighted how smart experience management can do just that... kudos to TimberTech/Azek Building Products and Crutchfield.

Web-based design tools for the general public have come a long way in the last few years.  From www.timbertech.com, my wife Ashley launched the Deck Designer and went to town.  She designed a custom deck down to the individual rail based on TimberTech's wide range of options, all fit to the shape and dimensions that our house will allow.  Details such as stair placement and balutser type could all be specified.  TimberTech's design tool also auto-generates a thorough and comprehensive "Deck Designer Specification Kit," by which someone with more DIY skills than I could build the precise deck that Ashley had designed.  I found all of this to be pretty cool.

What I found really cool arrived in our (physical) mailbox a few days later:

Simple, but clever.  This postcard contains the design that Ashley had created, a different but informative computer rendering of a similar deck, and a real picture of a Timbertech deck in the wild.  It reminded us of our plan, gave us "wow, that looks great moment," and then told us whom to call to make it happen.  While our actual next steps were different since we were already working with a builder, this postcard helped to seal our decision.

Even more simply, but just as effective, was a Crutchfield experience rooted in web analytics.  I've spent a fair amount of time on the Crutchfield website this year, somewhat for genuine A/V design and shopping needs, and somewhat for fun.  One real need that has also provided an opportunity for fun has been a new TV for my future family room.  In the last couple of months, I had inched closer to a decision but not been ready to pull the trigger on a Samsung that meets our requirements.  I honestly can't remember if I had ever put it in my online shopping cart and removed it, or if I've just viewed its details page on multiple occasions.  Either way, Crutchfield's marketing engine was smart enough to know that I might be intrigued by this:

The price had dropped to where I needed it to be, so I did indeed want to know.  Given my historically positive experiences with Crutchfield, its support team, and my growing Rewards Points total, I wasn't necessarily caught up with finding the absolute lowest price on the web for that TV; I just needed it to be low enough, and this email tipped me off that the time was right.  So once Ashley double checked the measurements within which the TV needs to fit, I clicked Add to Cart and moved right along.  True to Crutchfield's reputation, the TV was at my front door within 4 days.