Attention is the most prized asset in marketing these days.
In an era where consumers have their gadgets on hand all the time, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for marketers, creatives, and business owners to attract the attention of their target audiences, much less hold it.
And with so many platforms, channels, forms of media, and tools regularly coming out of the woodwork, the market has become more fragmented than ever.
Did you know that marketers need an average of seven “touches” to convert a prospect? No wonder why only 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.
How do you make your target audience pay attention long enough to become loyal customers?
This is where Customer Experience (CX) comes in.
What is Customer Experience?
Customer Experience (CX) is the overall impression your brand makes on your target audience throughout their relationship lifecycle with your business—across multiple channels, platforms, and devices.
CX spans multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey, from the moment a consumer encounters your brand for the first time to the moment when she finally decides to buy your products and services, even right up to the time when she cancels her subscription.
It bears noting that a “touchpoint” could be any interaction between a brand and a consumer, meaning that it’s not exclusive to one platform, channel, or medium. When you stumble on a blog post from a specific brand after a Google search, that’s a touchpoint. When you visit a store to ask if they have a specific item in stock, that counts as another touchpoint. And so on.
Which brings us to another point: If you want to deliver the type of customer experience that turns customers into loyal brand advocates, you need to make every touchpoint count. You must delight and nurture your target audience every step of the way on their road to conversion and brand advocacy. After all, it takes only one bad customer experience for a prospect to start losing interest in what you have to offer.
Why Customer Experience Matters
You might be wondering: Why the focus on customer experience?
First off, according to a CEI report, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more to receive better customer experience. A Walker study also predicted that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020. A recent Accenture report states that 90% of B2B executives are looking to prioritize CX in their overall marketing strategy.
The consensus is clear: If you want to earn the trust of your target audience, build a long-lasting relationship with them, and increase your ROI in the process, you need to deliver satisfying and memorable customer experiences…. wherever they are, whenever they need it, and within the right context.
So, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are 3 ways to create a customer experience strategy that will delight your target audience and earn their undying loyalty in the process.
1. Know your audience
It’s already a cliché in marketing circles at this point, but it bears repeating:
If you want to deliver great customer experiences, you need to understand your audience first.
What are their wants and needs? Where do they hang out? What’s their educational background? What are their biggest challenges? What’s a typical day for them? And so on.
By getting answers to the above questions, you can acquire actionable insights that will help you tailor your marketing content and interactions in ways that delight, engage, and connect with them.
Once you get to know your customers, you can use CRM software to maintain the relationship and improve it even further. CRM tools are mostly known for helping users streamline their sales process, but they also allow you to store relevant data on your customers. This information helps you learn more about your customers and more effectively sell to them, which gives them a better experience and keeps them coming back for more.
There are many other ways to learn more about your target consumers, too, including:
- Creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional profile that represents your ideal customer based on data gathered from your customer base. Typically, a buyer persona includes everything from customer demographics to behavior patterns, from hobbies to core values and more. A well-detailed persona can help you create content that resonates with your target audience, helping you build trust with your audience over time. Here are good examples of buyer personas to get you started.
- Customer surveys. What better way to know more about your audience than getting answers straight from the horse’s mouth? Besides, it’s easy to conduct surveys these days thanks to nifty tools like SurveyMonkey.
- Use AI to your advantage. AI-powered predictive software can gather data about your target consumers based on their browsing behavior. Such data can help you analyze and predict customer behavior, thus giving you ideas on how to deliver unique, relevant, and personalized content.
2. Be consistent in your branding
As already mentioned, your prospects’ road to conversion is long and fragmented. If you want them to get to their destination, you need to earn and build their trust.
You need brand consistency to sustain that trust.
According to a study by McKinsey, brands that instill feelings of trust among their audience are more likely to deliver consistent customer journeys. The same study also finds that consistency is a critical element of every CX strategy.
Customers love consistency. If your blog post says one thing but a customer service rep says another, why would they trust you with their needs? Why would they trust you to deliver on your brand promise?
If you want to deliver memorable and meaningful experiences consistently, you need to think of “experience” as a cohesive whole comprised of many parts.
Boltgroup’s Peyton Green’s definition of the term “brand experience” is on point:
“The intentional design of moments that physically, visually, and verbally integrate into people’s lives and their lifestyle, expressing the purpose, promise and pillars of the brand, and triggering an emotional response.”
The elements of your branding should be consistent as well. Defining your brand mission and values is a step in the right direction. After all, they serve as the guideposts of your brand story. And by creating or using visuals, messaging, and collateral that align with that brand story, you’ll find it easier to create authentic brand experiences that engage, resonate, and inspire.
Protip #1: Want a more holistic view of your target audience’s journey towards the sale? Customer experience mapping can help you gather key insights that can help you tailor your customer experience in a way that addresses the needs and wants of your customers.
Protip #2: If you and your teams are struggling to maintain brand consistency because of a siloed working environment, a Digital Asset Management (DAM) solution can serve as a central source of truth that simplifies and streamlines the use, storage, and management of assets across multiple workflows.
3. Build a community around your brand
Our innate desire to belong and connect with others is one of the main drivers that influence our purchasing behavior. After all, brand or customer experiences—and much of human experience, for that matter—are communal in nature.
Popular marketing blogger and best-selling author Seth Godin says as much in one of his blog posts:
“More than features, more than benefits, we are driven to become a member in good standing of the tribe. We want to be respected by those we aspire to connect with, we want to know what we ought to do to be part of that circle.”
To bring home the point further, Harvard Business Review reports that “people are more interested in the social links that come from brand affiliations than in the brands themselves.”
Lego, for example, has maintained its reputation as the best toy company over the last few decades. While Lego’s building bricks were revolutionary for its time, toy companies like Nanoblocks and Mega Bloks have created products that are at least comparable in terms of quality and price.
So, what made Lego stand out from its competition even after all these years? It’s their robust online community of Lego enthusiasts.
On top of the Lego message boards, Lego’s online platform, LEGO Ideas, provided members a vibrant community hub where they can submit or browse ideas for new creative designs. The toy company used the platform to stage creative themed contests or promotions where winners get to earn the privilege of having their design turned into an official LEGO set. To top it off, the creator gets to earn a percentage of the sales. Now that’s customer empowerment for you!
Tips on how to create a community around your brand You can’t create a brand community overnight. At least not one that will prove sustainable for the long haul. To build a scalable community, you need to engage your audience in an authentic way. After all, it’s easier to consolidate and grow a community that is built on genuine interactions.
Here are ways to build a brand community:
- Send newsletters. Growing an email list is a great way to build a community because it’s permission-based. Unlike ads, newsletters are more likely to prompt action from your subscribers. After all, they opted-in to receive emails from you in the first place. Email marketing services such as MailChimp and ConstantContact provide you with comprehensive user insights, allowing you to segment your list and deliver personalized content.
- Use Facebook groups. If you want engagement, Facebook Groups is where the action is! With the social media giant’s algorithm shifting its focus more on community-building, Facebook Groups will continue to be a friendly environment for building a community of like-minded individuals.
- Use user-generated content (UGC). User-generated content—content created by consumers—empowers your audience because it gives them a “consumer voice” and the opportunity to become a part of your brand story. What better way to build a community than to provide your audience with a platform where they can share their love for your brand? UGC marketing isn’t only effective at converting consumers into customers, it’s also the cheapest form of marketing there is.
- Listen, then engage. In this increasingly digitized world, it’s too easy for your audience’s voice to get lost in the white noise. How can you know and understand your audience if you’re not hearing them? Thankfully, social listening tools like Brandwatch, Agorapulse, and Awario can help you track and monitor conversations consumers are having about your brand, products, services, industry, and more. These tools help you keep your ear to the ground, giving you opportunities to identify gaps in your customer experience strategy. Moreover, they provide you with actionable insights on how to engage your audience in ways that are relevant to their wants and needs.
There are no two ways about it: Customer Experience (CX) is the ultimate differentiator in today’s fragmented market, and it will continue to be in the years to come. If you want enduring, meaningful relationships with your customers, give them great experiences to remember you by.