This time last year, we were on the cusp of a customer revolution. Now, with 2013 coming to a close, buyers have more control than ever, driving marketers to create the most compelling and fulfilling customer experiences.
Marketers have always been the bridge that connects their businesses to customers, but in the past the emphasis was on communicating brand offers. The problem? Marketers didn’t know which customer needed which offer or where the customer was when they were delivering it. So marketers were trying to provide valuable and informative customer experiences, but only a small percentage of people were actually experiencing them. And this challenge has only been exacerbated by the explosion of communication channels.
In 2014 and going forward, marketing needs to reinvent itself, moving beyond its roots in broadcast marketing to strategies that greet each customer as an individual, offering them the best possible customer experience at every interaction, both digitally and offline. Successful businesses will need to engage with each customer when and where that customer prefers with content that is perfectly tuned and individualized. Here are a few of my ideas for a successful 2014:
1) Shift from general broadcast messaging to using behavioral marketing automation.
Using individuals’ actions to deliver immensely relevant, real-time campaigns of one is not just a “nice to have” in 2014, it’s a necessity. Of course, this thought has always been the case to some extent, but now digital marketing technology has caught up. With the right technology in place, you can capture a range of customer behaviors — in your emails, on your website, in your mobile app, at your physical locations (e.g. crossing a geofence or checking in on Foursquare), or even on your customers’ morning runs (via smart watches, for example). And just as importantly, you can attribute these behaviors to individual customers.
At Silverpop, we're so excited to see how innovative our customers are, especially with the initiatives we’ve seen in the past year. This new way of thinking doesn’t mean you have to de-silo the applications – you still want to use the best-of-breed applications and plug them in. But, you must bring awareness across the silos and centralize the interactions to your central marketing platform.
2) Pick one channel you’ve never individualized before and personalize it.
Once technology helps you capture these cross-channel, cross-device customer behaviors, it’s up to marketers to weave an engaging story. In other words, it’s great to know that a customer was in your mobile app yesterday, and today that same person is in your store, but how can you leverage that information? In 2014, the best marketers will be taking that data and using it to create amazing customer experiences. Start simple – pick one channel where you’ve never added a touch of personalization, and incorporate one instance. Or, add even more customized content to an existing channel to make it even more helpful, fun or engaging.
3) Look for creative ways to use customer behaviors to drive cross-channel interactions.
Imagine, for example, that a customer walks into your physical store, and within a few moments his phone vibrates. Voila, there’s a text message from your company thanking him for being a loyal reward member and reminding him that he has 6,000 reward points that he might want to use today. A few minutes later, a customer enters that store for the first time after downloading a mobile app and receives a text thanking her for visiting and highlighting a few unique aspect of that location.
These types of interactions will require marketers to shift their approach. Most marketers are trained to think, “What should we put out there to get a 4 percent return, or 5 percent more clicks, or 200 downloads,” and they’re thinking in terms of these metrics. But if you shift your frame of thinking to, “Hey, let’s help our first-time buyers have an awesome experience with our brand, nurture them, and send them relevant post-purchase follow-ups recommendations,” you’ll drive even better results. Sure, you’ll still include calls to action to get them to buy more, but focusing on the experience versus just pushing a “buy more, buy more” message will produce more revenue and loyalty than if you focused solely on revenue and loyalty.
Think of marketing as a travel company and customers as tourists. Most marketing today does little more than herd a large crowd of tourists toward a small set of the most popular destinations. More advanced marketing is like a tour bus — more destinations and smaller crowds, but with a fixed sequence and generic experience. The future of marketing is like having your own private concierge who knows your interests, budget and pace. This guide walks alongside you, delivering a completely unique and personal experience perfectly tailored to you.
Once you’re laser-focused on the customer experience, you can start thinking about ways that you can become a personal concierge for your customers, using the behaviors you’ve harnessed to deliver individualized content, across channels and in real time, that guides them through their unique buyer journeys.
1) White Paper: “7 Key Marketing Tactics for 2014 – and Tactics for Thriving in the New Year”
2) Video: “What Is Universal Behaviors?”
3) Blog: “5 Cross-Channel Use Cases for Universal Behaviors”