Technology and changing customer needs are making it increasingly difficult for business to bring order to the marketing chaos.
Strategic decision making is further complicated by nonlinear customer journeys, big data, and the inability to effectively predict disruptive technology.
Add to the mix a shortage of technical and creative skills, siloed decision-making, and a lack of futuring, it's easy to see why companies are struggling to plan for the future.
So how do you build a lasting brand in an ever-shifting business landscape?
1. Improve customer experience
This should go well beyond website UX which is being confused with CX. Real CX focuses on the entire customer journey, not just optimising a single touchpoint like your website. It should include input from all business divisions, customer feedback, data and other anecdotal evidence.
Customer experience drives brand equity more than ever. A Mckinsey report revealed an effective customer journey could increase revenue by up to 15% and lower customer servicing costs by up to 20%. This is backed by recent IBM and PWC studies, all emphasising the importance of delivering consistently on your Brand promise.
A case in point, my recent purchase from a leading UK online retailer who won an award for the best shopping Customer Experience. True, the website was fantastic and got me to complete a purchase seamlessly. The next 3 weeks however, was a journey through customer service hell. There was no contact number on the website to follow up on my undelivered order, emails via their customer centre were left unanswered, and my only option was to communicate daily with different customer agents via Facebook.
Needless to say, I eventually cancelled the order and received a refund. I was not alone. Hundreds of customer complaints still fill their Facebook wall daily. With a Trustpilot rating of 3.6/10 it makes one wonder how they received a CX award.
While the digital journey is often easiest to measure, it needs to be matched with offline experiences. Crucial information can be gleaned from front-line staff, customer feedback forms, surveys and other data points. Creating these feedback loops enables you to create a clearer picture of customer satisfaction levels and where there is room for improvement.
2. Drive Customer Experience from within
This means building a customer-centric organisation focused on authentic communication and a good grasp of your customers buying psychology.
Consumers now demand authenticity which requires strategic leadership in creating an integrated experience to transform customers into fans. The entire organisation has to understand the end-state vision and buy into a customer orientated culture.
If part of the customer journey relies on external partners then additional training and guidelines may be required to ensure your brand objectives are fulfilled. Online merchants are particularly vulnerable as the last mile of the customer experience is often in the hands of a delivery company with untrained staff.
Real customer engagement born from listening and understanding allows you build lasting relationships and could help predict future purchasing behaviour. Feedback from the bottom up provides insights from client facing staff, which, when combined with digital data can produce truly great customer centric solutions.
3. Drive growth with smart data
Data is being predicted as the main driver for future growth. However, not everyone has the necessary resources to make sense of all the available data. We create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, that’s why focusing smart data rather than big data is key.
Successful brands have identified the necessary tools to collate smart data and test hypotheses to create integrated customer experiences. Setting goals and measuring touch points allows you to map brand interactions and discover opportunities for future growth.
Real-time data allows brands to think fast and provide personalised experiences across digital platforms. Moment marketing and data analytics can place your brand top of mind at key touch points of the buying cycle, allowing you to better convince and convert.
"Traditionally, we have relied on experts to gather these insights from data," said Sagnik Nandy, distinguished engineer at Google. "A data-driven organisation wants this to happen automatically." And now it can.
4. Choose the right strategy in a multichannel world
The complexity of delivering coherent campaigns is often compounded by the notion that we need to reach customers at every touchpoint even when we don’t have a full grasp of the marketing channel.
And Unbelievably most companies are still not fully exploiting the channel which is used most, mobile.
Today’s consumers are mobile-first. More and more frequently, we turn to our smartphones in moments of need, with 96% of smartphone owners using their device to get things done.
The opportunities to connect with customers on mobile seem to be the domain of bigger brands, yet platforms are available to level the playing field for any organisation.
While there are many other factors we need to look at in creating lasting brands, putting customers first is always a good starting point. A people-first approach and testing every aspect of your marketing to improve the customer experience we believe is what will future proof your business.