The Evolution Of Digital Marketing And Changing Customer Expectations
It's time to scrap outdated strategies. Columnist Scott Rayden explains why marketers need to shift their perspective and make the customer journey more engaging.
The onset of the digital age gave customers more discretionary control over what they buy and from whom they buy. However, even with businesses equipped to deliver on now sky-high consumer expectations, many continue to miss the mark when it comes to understanding customers and their buying journey.
In a time when the customer has so much control, channel strategy should no longer be the primary concern for CMOs. Rather, “engagement strategy” is the new name of the game, and if marketing teams want to succeed, they’ll need to change their perspective drastically and focus on making the customer journey more engaging.
First Priority: Shifting Perspective
Even the most successful digital enterprises often don’t have perfect consumer-oriented strategies in place to engage their customer base. CMOs need to put themselves in their customers’ shoes by looking at the products and services they access in their personal lives through a digital channel.
When taking this perspective, a marketing team can find flaws in even their most successful internet transactions. Even the most minor issues will become apparent.
Respect The User’s Options
Another thing that will come to light when marketers switch their perspective is that it’s far easier than ever before for customers to explore alternatives to meet their needs.
The best bidding and targeting strategies will get potential customers to your website, landing page, Facebook page and so on. But after that lead gets there, what happens next?
For CMOs, the focus from there needs to be answering why prospective customers may be bouncing from a site so soon after landing on it. By putting too many obstacles between the gateway of the site and the ultimate transaction, businesses are only dissuading the customer at every step from seeing the sale through.
Customers today have options — and this ever-growing number of options are easier than ever to access. Unnecessary friction in the post-acquisition experience will lead to a lot of investments going for naught.
Focus On Key Areas And Investments To Drive Engagement
Making the customer journey more engaging isn’t easy, especially at a time when digital marketing spend can go in so many different directions. This requires CMOs to be strategic — and in some cases quite innovative — about where to put their marketing resources.
By viewing the strategy from the customer’s perspective, smart investment areas should become abundantly clear in no time. Recognizing and investing in areas that help your customers feel as though their opinions matter will help build brand loyalty. Allocating a member of the team to focus on key areas you’ve identified as priorities is worth the investment in that case.
For example, most consumers feel engaged when they think their opinions are being heard and considered (because of this, brands often use social media-driven customer service to respond to concerns in real time). The digital age gives customers a wealth of opportunities to voice their opinions, and marketing teams and CMOs must listen to acquire insights into their buying experience.
A crafty CMO, therefore, will see that customers are already producing content that, once responded to, will help build relationships that lead to a sale. Rather than generating an impersonal, potentially costly ad campaign, marketing teams can put resources toward interacting with user content that speaks to the individual client personally, as well as a larger audience researching a brand.
This is an innovative approach to driving engagement that marketing teams have only recently been able to really hone. Customers will understand that their voices aren’t falling on deaf ears as their input is actually helping to dictate the direction of the marketing team.
Rather than just being a dollar value to the company, consumers will look at themselves as part of the team — and the CMO will hopefully see more leads by changing up their approach.
Every Campaign Starts With A Checklist
Ensuring that the customer feels that he or she represents more than just a revenue stream for a company will always pay off for the CMO and the business as a whole.
But no marketer can completely inhabit a potential customer’s frame of mind without taking steps to get to know them, not just as a demographic, but in some cases, on a personal level. This requires a checklist that is centered on gaining customer familiarity.
For starters, a strategy must utilize data to track both analytics and specialized KPIs (key performance indicators) that give insight into specific engagement variables. Looking at behavior, experience and past engagement will highlight areas of success and failure.
From there, all of the technology that supports the strategy needs to be synchronized and maintained. Usability, attribution and data visualization are only a few of the tech silos that need to be accounted for and aligned to focus on the customer experience.
Finally, a process must be put in place that can regularly improve digital engagement. Historically, marketing strategies would either be one-off projects or ones that only get revisited on — at most — a quarterly basis. But if changes aren’t addressed — and in a speedy manner — in the current environment, it will inevitably hurt not just a particular campaign, but the entire brand perception, and ultimately, customer loyalty.
Modern digital customers know what they want and have high expectations for how they’ll receive it. Marketers have all of the tools they need already to deliver on successful digital marketing strategies — just as long as they remember to put themselves in the consumer’s shoes.