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As marketing professionals, we learned a lot in 2020, whether we wanted to or not. The consumer landscape saw an extraordinary tectonic shift as we entered a fully digitized area of sales and marketing. Our strategies have changed. Our focus was less on traditional methods (like the dreaded batch-and-blasts) and more on rethinking the entire digital customer journey and, above all, the customer experience.
One thing is certain: as unpredictable as 2020 was, there is a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel towards 2021. The possibilities for a completely refined marketing approach, aside from exaggeration, are endless. 2021 is the year of the customer.
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According to a recent study by professional services company PwC, 54% of US consumers say that most businesses need to improve the customer experience. Another meaningful data point: 80 percent of consumers are more interested in their customer experience than the products they actually buy and are willing to pay more for a great customer experience. This is a direct result of a more demanding buyer landscape, where consumers have plenty of digital resources to do simple research and provide instant feedback to their digital communities. If you don't prioritize every touchpoint, you are likely missing out on the opportunity to enjoy an optimized customer experience. Brands will win in 2021 if they focus on one fundamental truth: Great customer experience creates brand loyalty. Marketers have a unique opportunity to play a key role in moving from a great brand to a memorable one by capitalizing on this change in buyer behavior.
Data is the key to the kingdom
As marketers, we obviously want to achieve more than we miss, but we can at times tend to react in situations that require better planning and proactivity. Traditional methods rely heavily on gathering historical data from open rates, click rates, etc. However, this is surface level data. The evolution of marketing requires deeper insight into the data through segmentation, defining parameters and running analysis to determine the "why" behind the "what".
When we market consumers with products they don't need, already have and don't ask for, we miss and become irrelevant. All marketers know that. Why have so many in the industry stuck to outdated methods where a shotgun approach takes precedence over a curated, targeted rifle approach? The simple answer is data or lack thereof.
Customers provide data all the time – it just takes better and more advanced analytics on the right platforms and systems to make sure you're collecting and using that data effectively. Your company should create processes to enable highly personalized experiences such as customer behavior, detailed preferences, and a better understanding of each life cycle.
With this data-driven approach, you can better develop the unique and personalized experiences your customers want and get more effective results. You can personalize your messages based on where your customers are on their journey. You can keep track of their needs and the offers they are most concerned with. You can effectively send them useful, insightful messages that will help you increase your bottom line. Your marketing automation platform should track every click from your customer or prospect, which in turn gives you insight into the personalized content or promotional message that resonates. When you make data-driven decisions, you are different from your competitors, who treat customers like dollar-to-dollar transactions.
Your data should tell you exactly when is the best time to get in touch with your customers. Use smart outreach strategies to find the most effective times. Start with the basics, e.g. For example, segmenting your email by geographic location so you don't target customers when they're offline and least affected. Already following open courses, but how detailed are you with your demographic breakdown? Your marketing automation platform should be customized to ensure that you don't waste your time tracking all audiences but targeting your target audience in a targeted manner. Timing is everything, and once you sniff it, you may not have a chance to hit again.
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Create critical customer feedback loops
No brand is perfect, and that's fine. Constant iteration is key to staying relevant in your markets. You should perform regular temperature checks on your CX to ensure that it is easy to use and that it adapts to the needs of your customers. It's time to become obsessed with customer satisfaction and use their feedback to guide the development of your brand and offerings.
First of all, you need to make sure that your customers have effective ways to reach you. From surveys to focus groups to contact forms, you need to set up a line of communication for your customers to learn about what you're doing right – and what's not. Constantly monitor the feedback for valuable insights on how you can improve. Your data pipeline should be complete and diverse, using customizable and scalable options to get more detailed information about your customer personalities. Your channels for generating feedback should be precise, eliminate guesswork, and make customer feedback actionable.
Once your methods are determined, use data and customer feedback to generate new strategies. Your brand is about building trust and familiarity with your customers. When you think about how your analytics and engagement strategies complement each other, a critical relationship is created between you and your customers. Ultimately, big brands don't just ask for feedback on their products, they act on it continuously.
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Increase the value and inform your customers about the entire life cycle
As the buyer journey continues to evolve, your adaptability is of the utmost importance. This means anticipating when your customers might need additional value-added services or new insights and training in the industry landscape (or specifically about your product, for example if you have added new features based on feedback).
In today's highly digitized environment, there are several types of added value that can help drive brand engagement. Client webinars, testimonial / advocacy programs, and executive insights can all lead to better brand visibility and engagement, which means more data, more familiarity, and more trust. By investing in long-term product or service training, you are sending the message that your customers are part of your team. Make them experts on your brand and motivate them to stand up for you by rewarding repeat customers with special promotions and recognitions. All of this simply flows into the brand ecosystem, which ensures continuity.
Manage your relationships for a better future
The customer experience is key to unlocking marketing in the new year and beyond. Marketing teams recover with a new focus and better tools. Constantly and creatively think about how you can keep building a better brand. Your data, personalization, and targeted automation should be the most important tools in your toolbox. In 2021, the best brands will make their customers proud by treating them as invaluable assets to their success. And just like in our personal lives, relationship management will be the key to continued and explosive growth.
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