Author: Larry Myler

Why Next Year’s Marketing Success Will Always Follow Last Year’s Customer Experience

The measurement of customer sentiment has evolved over time. We are constantly searching for more accurate methods of understanding what customers will do in the coming days, months and years.

For a long time we tracked mainly customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores, thinking that a happy customer is a long-term customer. After finding that satisfaction didn’t correlate as closely as we would like with future buying intentions, we started measuring customer loyalty. After all, the more loyal the customer, the more valuable the customer in terms of lifetime purchases, right?

Turns out, loyalty is more difficult to measure than we thought. Marketers then shifted attention to studying customers’ likelihood of recommending a given product or service to others, with the use of Bain & Company’s NPS (net promoter score). The need for NPS is seemingly confirmed by Bain’s own finding that, “60-80% of customers who churn said they were satisfied or very satisfied in their last CSAT survey.” Currently, over two-thirds of Fortune 1,000 companies use the NPS platform to track customer loyalty.

Satisfaction, intention to buy in the future, loyalty and NPS all represent a logical and useful evolution for knowing how likely customers are to stick with you, buy more from your company, and influence others to do the same.

There may, at some point, be more and better methods for determining customer sentiment in the future; however, let’s not lose sight of the real goal here, which is to move the needle and not just watch it. I’m talking about the lever you can pull in order to increase loyalty, rather than the mere measurement of loyalty.

And that lever is—drum roll, please—customer experience (CX), or the sum total of all interactions between a customer and a company.

CX is the reason why your NPS is where it is. CX is what you improve in order to increase your NPS.  But how can you know what to change about the current customer experience, and where is your highest-leverage, lowest-hanging fruit?

Following are 4 approaches to finding those answers:

1. Invite feedback

When was the last time you left a positive review of an experience you had, without prompting? Yeah, me neither. It is important to proactively invite all of your customers to provide feedback. This could be the best way to learn why they will (or will not) remain loyal.

The ways in which you invite customer feedback may vary, but could include text messages, emails, social media or personal phone calls. Naturally, you will receive mixed responses, but constructive criticism will help you assess what’s missing for a more positive customer experience, while the glowing responses will stand as a testament to your future customers.

Although it is useful to conduct your own customer surveys, it can be equally effective to send customers to independent, trusted sites to post their reviews. “The feedback we have received has allowed us to take our company to the next level. Not only do our potential customers see what it is like to do business with us, but if we come across someone that had a negative experience we can jump on it right away,” observes Jeff Tomasulo of Interactive Trader. Tomasulo and team created a company page on Trustpilot and they have been actively inviting customers to provide feedback ever since.

2. Conduct win/loss analysis

For B2B companies, it’s critical to know why you win or lose deals. What’s your hit rate? Do you get more than 50% of the deals you go after? Why or why not. By following up after the purchase decision is made, you can learn which parts of the prospect’s experience work in your favor, and which work against you.

In successful sales efforts—where the prospect becomes a customer—the prospect experience heavily colors the beginning of their customer experience. It’s important to get off to a strong start and set proper expectations for the relationship.

One of the main benefits of win/loss analysis is the knowledge you can gain about your competition. If you continually win deals because of certain advantages your company has developed, highlight those advantages. Likewise, when you see a pattern of loses due to specific deficiencies you have but your competition does not, work on those deficiencies. Paying attention to your competition will improve win rates, and CX.

3. Keep in contact with customers

As customers provide feedback to your company, be sure to acknowledge their concerns. Regardless of how illegitimate their concerns may seem to you, they are valid to the customer. Take the time to respond to feedback in an appropriate manner. Let them know that you have heard their concerns, and tell them what you’re doing to improve. All improvements should lift CX. Your customers will recognize your efforts to adapt to their needs, and you will be rewarded for it in the long run by an increase of loyalty.

4. Target the right customer segment

Even Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, has naysayers. Your company is no different. In fact, every company’s customers fall into a similar bell curve. The majority of customers are in the middle of the curve, while outliers can be observed on either end. The two groups of outliers can be referred to as either impossible to please, or difficult to disappoint. Although they lie on opposite ends of the spectrum, they have one thing in common: almost nothing that you do will move them. They will continue to have negative, or positive, experiences with your company, almost regardless of how you interact with them.

It is important to focus on the middle of the bell curve. This is the roughly 80% of your customers that you can influence, and to whom you must listen. When you are brainstorming ideas on how to improve CX, keep this group in your sights.

Here’s to another year of measuring customer loyalty. May your numbers ever be on the rise. Ensure a higher NPS by pulling the CX lever early and often.

Want to learn how to craft an expertly planned experience for your customers? Download Customer Experience Simplified: Deliver The Experience Your Customers Want. 

How Content Marketing is Evolving Heading into 2018

The content marketing landscape is constantly changing and evolving, and while more brands than ever are increasing their budgets, many fail to see the hoped-for results.

Simply publishing blog posts doesn’t cut it any longer, forcing brands to become extremely creative and diverse when building content marketing strategies. Here are four ways I see content marketing evolving in 2018:

1. More effort will be placed on promoting high-quality content assets

They say less is more, and this may be especially true with content marketing. Rather than publishing new blog posts daily, and hoping they gain traction, expect to see more brands focus on publishing high-quality pieces of content designed to help them reach specific campaign goals.

“Watch for more brands to focus on creating more elaborate pieces of content, such as motion graphics, animated explainer videos and long-form case studies. Rather than putting small efforts behind multiple pieces of content, more brands are now allocating larger paid pushes behind higher-quality content,” explains James Neal, Director of The Quad Group.

When you spend the time and money to create an epic piece of content, you want to make sure it accomplishes two things. First, it needs to educate and inform the consumer; second, it must include a very clear call-to-action. Do you want to convert the individual engaging with the content into a lead or a sale? Be specific, but remember to only give them one option because multiple options will greatly reduce your conversion rate. If you believe in the architecture of your funnel, trust it and move prospects along, one step at a time.

2. Content will be created with social media promotion in mind

Social media gives brands the largest platform to not only broadcast their content but to also have their content discovered by new prospects and potential customers. There are a few types of content that perform very well on social media:

  • Micro-video content: The attention span on social media is small, requiring you to deliver your message in mere seconds. Little 15-second creative clips can perform exceptionally well, helping you build brand awareness and drive the audience to a specific call-to-action.

  • Viral images: Consumers love to share social media content, and one of the easiest ways to get traction in terms of sharing and engagement is to post images with viral elements. Brands need to experiment to find out what resonates with target audiences, but once they identify that, it can lead to exponential exposure.

  • Live video: Facebook and Instagram give the option to broadcast live video, which allows brands to provide a unique peek and showcase products or even company culture. Consumers love live video content, so it’s wise to learn how to leverage this quickly.

3. Video will continue to outperform every other format

In my opinion, there isn’t a more effective piece of content than video. If you aren’t currently producing video content you are missing out. Video can be used to demonstrate products and services, or just give the potential customer a deeper view of all aspects of a brand. It allows companies to build trust, which translates into higher sales and more brand advocates.  

While YouTube has long been the favorite platform to create a channel and host video content—with Facebook also being an option—Amazon is now taking aim by allowing creators to migrate over to its platform. The most attractive aspect of Facebook is that it has the largest user base, at over 2 billion. Essentially, every potential customer a brand could want to target has a Facebook account.

4. More e-commerce brands will leverage the power of visual content

Many e-commerce brands are now discovering the power of visual content to attract customers. The competition of paid advertisements on Facebook and AdWords is driving customer acquisition costs through the roof, which is causing many brands to create content assets and push them across content discovery channels to attract customers.

Long-form blog posts can also be leveraged, as can infographics, like the example here, that provide information in an easy-to-digest format. This approach is less in-your-face than traditional e-commerce ads, and it can do a great job of educating and informing potential customers about the benefits of a specific product or service.

By including an enticing call-to-action, you can drive consumers that are interested in the offer to a dedicated product page where they can make an impulse purchase. Some of the more popular content discovery platforms to consider are Taboola and Outbrain, both of which offer self-serve options.

A picture paints a thousand words. Video runs at 30 ‘pictures’ per second. You do the math. 2018 is the time to take advantage of this information-packed, entertaining and informative format.

Oracle’s Content Marketing has solutions to simplify the process of creating, distributing and promoting your content. Visit our website for more information. You can also download Measuring the Effectiveness of Your Content Marketing for a 5-step process to prove value and grow your business by creating measurable goals and define your sales and marketing funnels and associated content.

 

Featured Image Source: Pixabay