The Customer Experience Is Key: In Every Channel And At Every Interaction
Hard-sell advertising messages don't cut it in today's multi-channel, multi-media messaging universe. Instead, meet your customers where they live.
Brand loyalty isn’t built in a day. Marketers are constantly exploring ways to engage with consumers in ways that are compelling and effective in getting the attention of new prospects, as well as in retaining the interest of existing customers.
In today’s environment, where consumers are deluged with advertisements and marketing materials across multiple channels and mediums, they are less likely to trust branded content and more inclined to seek out individualized recommendations, tips and insights that come from their own peers and networks.
This behavior should not be seen as a hurdle for marketers and advertisers; instead, it should be seen as a vast opportunity.
The Customer Advocacy Opportunity
Customers are every brand’s most valuable asset and most influential source of promotion. According to Nielsen, 84 percent of consumers are more likely to trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family than branded advertising campaigns.
Every step in the customer journey presents the chance to engage with customers in a direct manner that sends one simple message with each interaction: your brand cares more about its customers’ experiences than about the final sale. (This includes ensuring the customer’s experience with the product is rewarding.)
By encouraging customer trust and brand loyalty, your customers become your strongest advertisers, capable of organically spreading your message far beyond the reach of a traditional advertising budget.
If you’re already investing budget in ad spending and not recognizing the results you remember from past campaigns, it’s time to re-think your game plan.
1. Don’t Flood The Customer’s Feed With Marketing-Heavy Content
Consumers have always based purchase decisions on a number of factors, such as recommendations from friends, compelling advertisements and reviews in their local news. In today’s multichannel marketplace, however, these examples are a mere few of the many touch points in the customer journey.
Your target buyers will engage with any number of devices, networks and media over several days (or weeks, or months, depending on your product) before making a final purchase decision. The wrong way to get ahead of this process is to flood them with ad copy and messaging.
Instead, try integrating data collected through user reviews into customer relationship management (CRM) systems and highlighting real feedback in email campaigns sent through these systems. Relevant testimonials from a network of peers can serve the purpose of sharing information about your business without mimicking the heavy-handed marketing emails that likely flood a prospect’s inbox.
Maintaining strategic points of contact with consumers throughout the buying process helps demonstrate that your brand cares about creating a positive experience.
2. Deliver Every Message One-To-One
Even more important than telling your brand’s story is telling the customer’s story. Consumers have an immense array of options in terms of technology, social networks and communities that give them the chance to voice their opinions and be heard by their peers. As a result, a brand’s reputation is in the hands of its end users.
At every stage in the customer lifecycle, take the opportunity to engage in a personalized manner. This is particularly crucial for online businesses, which must combat the perception that the internet is a vast, impersonal marketplace through which to do business.
Send personalized emails after the point of sale, interact with customers on social media to field support queries or thank them for their business, and respond to customer reviews in a sincere manner.
3. Focus On Service, Not Products
It’s one thing to collect product reviews, but reviews that shed light on customers’ real experiences with a company are key for building a reputation that new prospects will notice.
From checkout to delivery to overall service, your customers are paying attention to their experiences with your brand. By encouraging them to share their impressions and critiques, you build a rich library of end-user testimonials that can be tapped in communications with new clients, and analyzed internally to ensure you’re meeting the standards your customers expect.
If a review is negative, a response from the brand highlights its commitment to learning how to improve its service for future transactions. However, a response to a positive review that thanks the customer for his decision to trust the brand sets a strong example for the rest of the community, as well.
Traditional advertising doesn’t need to compete with the process of building brand loyalty; both work toward the same goal. Positioning them to enhance one another will allow your company to reap true value and gain visibility in front of a wider audience, while also sending a message that you care about your customers.
And as it’s received, this message encourages customers to pass the word on to their peers and social networks – which can not only bring in new business organically, it may plant a seed in the mind of a prospective customer who will later see your traditional advertising on another device, in another situation, and make the decision to click and learn more.