As shoppers head out into the stores and search online for that perfect gift, we’ve been thinking what marketing professionals like you would like to find wrapped in your stocking or under your tree.
Here are just a few things that should be on any CMO’s holiday wish list:
Unwrap the Present – Get a Complete View of Your Customer
Today’s consumers are not looking for the same old one-way conversation where you send out a message and they respond with a purchase. New technologies, varied engagement points, shorter attention spans, and a truly open and 24-hour sales cycle have lead consumers to want a true and open dialog. They don’t just want to listen, they want to talk—and they want to be heard.
To take advantage of this new normal, you need a better, clearer picture of your customer. So to get that 360-degree view, you need a unified view of all on and offline customer data.
The touch points and vehicles for customer interaction have virtually exploded. Mobile devices, interactive and video customer support, online communities, social media platforms, apps, and other emerging tools and techniques, allow for near-constant communication, but also make it difficult to aggregate all the collected data into a complete picture.
Today’s 360-degree customer view is a holistic approach, taking into account all available information to drive better engagement, increase revenue, and improve loyalty. There are a wide range of resources that can help you develop your 360-degree view, from social media listening tools that gather what customers are saying online, to predictive analytics tools that attempt to divine what customers may research or purchase next, to complete customer relationship management solutions and marketing automation software that handle the whole customer experience from end-to-end.
Assembly Required – Building Out Your Customer’s Journey
When it comes to marketing and the sales cycle, the journey can be as important as the destination. That’s why having a comprehensive outline of the customer experience is essential. It not only shows where your customers are coming from and where they are going, but it also highlights the route they take—how many stops they make and where the delays and hang-ups are.
Once you know the actual path taken by a customer, you can use that information to refine the customer experience, remove barriers to conversion and sales, and improve the likelihood of a customer returning.
Your customer journey map should be a holistic representation of your customers’ experiences. The design should be detailed enough so that anyone in your organization can clearly see every step in the process, but simple enough that it can be understood at a glance.
It’s important to remember that once you have a map in place your work is not over—it needs to be adjusted and refined as new information becomes available. That’s why reviewing your customer journey map should become part of your annual or even quarterly business practices..
Here are 4 key points to remember when reviewing your customer journey maps.
Map your maps
Do you have maps in place for all of the most critical points in your customer’s lifecycle? If not, that should be a top priority. It’s also important to focus on Value-in-Play (ViP) moments: those critical parts of the customer lifecycle where the customer’s journey needs to be tightly mapped, understood, and optimized whenever possible. Many brands manage obvious VIP moments, but often leave other moments unmapped, or rely on one map for all their customers.
- Your basic map inventory should include:
- First channel purchase (online, in-store, phone)
- Free trial through trial expiration
- Subscription renewal and subscription anniversary
- Lapse in service (non-renewal)
Know your customers
The customer should be the focus of your journey maps—and not just one person, but also customer groupings with shared characteristics that are likely to respond in predictable ways. Breaking out your customer base into different personas allows for more customizable and actionable interactions. The journey map for one persona is unlikely to apply to all the other groups, requiring different strategies, content, timing, and messaging. Journey maps help you better manage the communications with your customer personas. It’s a good idea to revisit these journey maps often as more campaign activity data is collected.
You have a lot of information and tools at your disposal, so make sure you use them. Whether you're just starting to develop your maps or reviewing and refining established maps, they should start with your data—search information, visit duration, user flows, and other on and off-line metrics that can give you an idea of how people are discovering you and what they are looking for when they find you. It’s also a good idea to review campaign history by persona, because how individuals have responded in the past can be a great predictor of how they might respond in the future.
Mind the gaps and fill in the cracks
As you plot out your map, you may find gaps or other impediments that cause visitors to veer off of the path, or drop off the map entirely. Take a look at it from your customer’s point of view. You may find that part of your path doesn’t align with the goal or brand promise, that the content you're delivering doesn't align with the customer's expectations, or that the implied value of the offer is not resonating with the customer. Once you know where the gaps are, take steps to fill them in—add alternate touch points, or refresh content, update databases, and change offers or incentives. This is where a refined and updated journey map can lead directly to an improved bottom line.
Stocking Stuffers for Those Gadget Freaks - B2B's Latest Craze
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is blurring the lines between the roles of sales and marketing teams. Effective ABM uses a collaborative approach to focus sales, marketing, delivery, and key executives on achieving the client's business goals. Because of this focus on specific needs, ABM calls for a much more targeted and personal approach than traditional lead generation tactics. It’s not about cold calling and tradeshows, generic brochures and sales letters—it’s about custom, tailored content that speaks to a customer need directly and clearly. Through this need-centric approach, enterprise level customers can be engaged in a close and ongoing business relationship that often feels more like a partnership.
The ABM relationship can be strengthened and maintained through consistent and effective content. In fact, A CEB study found that decision-makers who perceive content to be tailored to their needs are 40% more likely to purchase from that supplier. Blog posts, videos, and white papers can be created specifically for your targeted accounts, but you need to start with the research to identify the issues and pain points in your targeted industry.
Many business report that a defined ABM strategy helps increase high-quality customer referrals, conversions, and other metrics with 80% of marketers claiming that ABM initiatives outperform all other marketing investments.
Today’s customers rarely have one point of contact with your business. That’s why retailers—both B2B and B2C—need to be omnipresent across all channels and devices. Now, the most successful brands have moved away from the “push”-based marketing of the past, in favor of more personalized one-to-one communication with consumers. This deeper more meaningful conversation is not taking place through one exclusive or even dominant channel, but through multiple paths, devices, and mediums—and often all at once.
It’s typical for a consumer to engage with a brand or product online, through an app, in a catalog, and in a physical store—all before making that purchase. It’s also typical for a “dialog” to happen through social media or blogs, during and after the sales cycle. This means that customers can ask questions, get reviews, and even leave their own feedback, all through brand-controlled and monitored channels.
In the current interconnected marketplace, it takes a truly holistic approach to cut through short attention spans and uncoordinated brand noise. Customers are not just “online” or “in-store,” consumer habits such as webrooming and showrooming demonstrate that each channel serves a specific purpose. And that’s why putting too much emphasis on one can cost you.
While technology has been seen as the answer to a number of marketing problems, shoppers are still looking to the traditional channels for information, even when shopping online. In fact 22 percent of smartphone owners cite print catalogs as the most influential source of information when making online purchases—clearly illustrating that despite our online world, print is alive and well.
There are a number of ways that you can fit print into your omnichannel marketing strategy, including variable printing with personalized messaging to boost ROI, QR codes that link online and offline experiences, and social media collateral that can help increase online following and engagement in the offline space.
Can’t Go Skiing Without All the Gear. Going Omnichannel…Really.
Once you decide to go omnichannel, orchestrating the right elements can be challenging. Like that thoughtful family who all chip in to outfit you for the winter sports, here are seven tips to help you engage across all channels:
Clean up your data
With 84 percent of today’s marketing databases containing “dirty” data—incorrect, incomplete or duplicate information—problems are bound to happen. And those problems can be costly in terms of revenue and opportunity. Make sure you refresh your database every 30 to 60 days—or less. Good marketing starts with good data.
Change your view point
You likely put a lot of resources into developing your sales cycles—from prospecting, to conversion, to close. However, even while you are following the rules, those rules can change and new rules can pop up. Interactions can change, and new connection points can open up. That’s why it’s a good idea to regularly review your sales cycles from the perspective of you customers—or better yet, contract an outside vendor to conduct an independent assessment. Go through the entire process: place orders, make returns, open a support case, and move through all the channels. Then compare the data collected with the on-paper plans. Are there any barriers to sale? Are there any places where customers are lost or drop off? Is the support and interaction consistent across the whole experience? Use this information to make adjustments and smooth out the wrinkles in your cycle.
Listen, reply, and listen some more
Your customers are taking. Are you listening? If you’re not using tools to find and monitor what they are saying across digital, social, and mobile channels, you’re missing critical opportunities to engage customers and influence their purchasing decisions in real time.
Remember, your customers are likely to use multiple devices during a single transactional process, and that means you have multiple chances to look and listen. Make sure that you are ready to engage and respond to these situations and identify the calls for interaction—those moments when your customers want you to reach out to them and help them through the process.
Once you hear just what your customers are saying, you can identify specific needs and then craft relevant campaigns to meet them. You can also deliver personalized offers and discounts just when your customer is in the right mindset.
Customers have patterns, and you can identify those patters across a range of channels. From apps and online to phone ordering and catalog forms—you have a lot of customer information available, and using that information can help craft those timely and personalized messages, and can help you develop campaigns with broader appeal.
Using location based targeting, sometimes called mobile conquesting, combined with demographic and behavioral targeting, you can reach potential and current customers with display ads—directly through their mobile devices. Ads can be dynamically updated to show users their distance from a your location—and targeting can focus down to .1 mile (500 feet) around competitor locations. You have a range of targeting categories to select from, based on profile and behavior, making customization and mid-campaign adjustments possible. Additionally, geo-conquesting around other businesses lets customers know you are in the area—and that you offer services directly in-line with their current needs and mindset. Through beacon technology, you can place precisely relevant offers directly in the hands of your customers—from down the street, to down the aisle.
Tell a clear story
- Your content and messaging is a key representation of your brand. It tells your story, so make it a good one, make it a consistent one. But more importantly, make it the right one—at the right time.
- If a customer has previously engaged with your brand or purchased your product, you probably want to consider that in your marketing—that customer already has a relationship with you, and you want that individual to feel that connection.
- If a customer puts something into an online cart, but hasn’t clicked purchase, make sure your next interaction recognizes that, and tries to facilitate the sales.
- If you customer calls, or if you call your customer, make sure you are able to have all relevant information available as quickly as possible.
- If you send direct mail or email messages, reference past purchases when possible and acknowledge the past interactions, thanking the customer for the loyalty.
Think fast, move faster
Much of today’s marketing happens in real-time. If you get too bogged down in processes, you’ll never be able to seize the moment. Look for systems that allow you to move quickly and respond to changing customer dynamics. When you do, you’ll be able to clearly see what’s working and what’s not, giving you the opportunity to adjust and pivot your strategy on the fly.
And Educational Games for Those Curious Minds
As Ferris Bueller famously said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” The same holds true for marketing—if you don’t take step back, look around and see what’s new and what’s different, you’ll fall behind. That’s why learning and training are critical. Technology has sped our lives up considerably, and will continue to do so. The best thing you can do as a marketer is to try to keep up.
Technology training, creativity seminars, and other certifications are great ways to hone your skills, learn new tactics, and network with other marketers. From social media seminars to SEO and AdWords, engaging with new concepts—and refreshing old ones—can be a great way to give a gift that will keep on giving all year.
Nielsen Norman Group (https://www.nngroup.com/articles/customer-journey-mapping/)
Think With Google (https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/micromoments/intro.html)
Smashing Magazine (https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2015/01/all-about-customer-journey-mapping/)
Scan plus Print Group (http://www.scanplus.co.uk/latest-news/115-how-to-implement-print-omni-channel-marketing-strategy)