To stay competitive in today’s economy, the message is clear: marketers need to put the customer front and center. To deliver more compelling and rewarding customer experiences, messaging and offers must revolve around the customer’s needs. Organizations must utilize a data-driven approach to customer experience optimization in order to deliver relevant and personalized communications.
According to a Forbes Insight study, the benefits of data-driven customer experiences are wide-ranging. Survey respondents cited having a greater ability to target and optimize for specific customers (57%) and achieving consistency across various channels as the biggest benefit.
Similar findings were also revealed in another study conducted by Salesforce titled “2016 State of Marketing”. According to the research, marketer’s ranked customer satisfaction as the top measure of success for a second year in a row.
Image Source: Salesforce “2016 State of Marketing” report
Marketers also ranked customer engagement as a top priority. The top three priorities included:
- 37%: Brand awareness
- 34%: Higher levels of customer engagement
- 25%: Social media engagement
Personalization Drives Performance
Research performed by Monetate found that 94 percent of marketers agree that ‘personalization of the digital experience is critical to current and future success’.
In another study by Microsoft, researchers polled more than 170 senior marketing decision-makers. Key findings included:
- Only 14 percent of marketers are able to personalize across the entire customer journey. Most marketers can personalize in select channels, yet they struggle to properly align data to personalize on a consistent and meaningful level (36 percent). Twenty-one percent deliver one-on-one relationships online and off.
- While 37 percent of marketers think effective personalization requires the ability to draw from one single source of customer truth, 29 percent believe an omnichannel approach that’s ready to engage customers with the right content via the right channel at the right time holds the key to successful personalization.
- When it comes to adopting the strategies and solutions necessary to accelerate personalization, analytics and lifecycle management (49 percent), personalization platforms (47 percent), comprehensive journey mapping (44 percent), predictive analytics (41 percent), and social listening (41 percent) will dominate.
Just as important is personalization of the mobile experience. Mobile users consider their devices to be a part of themselves. A study of mobile behavior by ExactTarget found that 85% of respondents said mobile devices are a central part of everyday life, signifying connectivity to all that’s going on in their world. Mobile connectivity also represents personal space that can be customized to meet one’s needs. Companies must ensure that their messages to mobile consumers are also personalized based upon consumer behaviors, demographics, interests, and according to their stage in the purchase journey.
Focus on the Customer Journey
Marketers are also placing increasing emphasis on the customer journey. By understanding a customer’s path to purchase and optimizing each engagement along the journey, any roadblocks or gaps can be fixed in order to keep customers moving along the path to conversion. According to the research by Salesforce, “High performing marketing teams are 8.8x more likely than underperformers to strongly agree that they have adopted a customer journey strategy as part of their overall business strategy.”
Seventy percent of marketing leaders have seen a positive impact on their customers’ willingness to recommend products or services. Seventy-three percent say that a customer journey strategy has positively impacted overall customer engagement.
Consider the following example as a customer purchases a car:
Each touch point on the customer journey should be optimized for the best experience. If a financing offer, for example, is different from what is actually promised, this one negative experience can outweigh all other positive touch points. Consumers will go through different journeys as they shop and research across multiple channels on their path to purchase. It’s important to understand and map out the different journeys your customers are taking to ensure each experience is optimized to the fullest.
Marketers need an adaptable and integrated way to automate the customer journey, one that’s personal and that can automatically be replicated thousands of times over. A study by Autopilot found that companies who stay in touch with customers every two to four weeks generate twice the leads of companies who touch base less frequently. By automating the customer journey with personalized content and messaging, you can ensure you automatically respond to behavior every time without missing a beat.
Deliver a Cohesive Omni-Channel Experience
Marketers must understand their customers as they traverse from channel to channel and deliver a cohesive customer experience across each of these channels. Salesforce reports that marketing leaders are 34.4x more likely than underperformers to say they are excellent at creating personalized omni-channel customer experiences across all business units.
Brands who have implemented strategies to successfully meet consumers’ expectations across channels understand that fundamental to this success is data – the RIGHT data, integrated in real-time. Internal 1st party data sets must be enhanced with additional 3rd party demographics. However, basic characteristics such as age, income level, and occupation must be augmented with richer insights into needs, wants, and attitudes.
Marketers are certainly aware of the profound change in the way consumers research and buy products. In response, the customer experience has become more critical than ever and marketing strategies are evolving to reach customers at the moments that most influence their purchases. In order to move beyond traditional funnel-based approaches, marketers must invest in technologies and platforms that allow the most relevant interactions with consumers at any given time. The epicenter of this type of consumer-driven marketing is data. With the right data, marketers can derive the right insights to deliver the exceptional customer experiences consumers are demanding.
Download the Customer Experience Strategy Guide and we’ll help you dive into the world of customer experience best practices to help you gain more wins on the customer experience battleground.