According to new research by marketing services and technology company Acxiom Corporation and Loyalty 360, the Loyalty Marketer’s Association, the vast majority (84.5%) of marketing executives use customer retention marketing strategies.
However, barely half (48.8%) believe their strategies are working. Knowing who your customers are is what changes their experiences from merely adequate to delightful, and can turn a customer into a raving advocate.
Devotion at that level usually only comes through the development of a grounded strategy, which is decomposed into a prioritized set of marketing initiatives, designed to fuel accelerated customer profitability via retention and intelligent, relevant conversations.
What can you do now to personalize the customer experience? Here are four things that you should start to do over the next three to six months to improve customer engagement in an incremental fashion while strategizing for the long run.
Know that your most valuable customers
Who are they? Through which channels will they most likely respond to your marketing message? Link that to how they engage with your product or service.
Are you marketing to one person 98% of the year and to her husband at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and her birthday? Design a strategy to speak to your different customers, both in message and in channel. Brands look lazy, unappreciative and maybe even clueless when they send generic, blast messages. If the bulk of the purchases are made for one person, sending her husband the same message is a waste of time and money.
The reality is, the more diverse your base, the more diverse your channels must be, even if the foundational message is similar. For instance, if you want to market to my younger brother, the best way to reach him is via Facebook or text message.
I’m a fan of Apps and mobile-enabled email, because my iPhone is with me at all times. My parents’ preferred channel is traditional email, and my grandmother loves to get mail. The foundational message could be basically the same, but the channel sets requirements for tone, execution and captures that fuels quality dialogue.
Collect more data
Though you’re swimming in information, you can always use more from the most reliable source out there – your customers. Don’t be passive in your interactions; ask them directly for input on what their preferences are so you can proactively customize the dialogue.
Before you think you’ve already collected everything you need to know, this goes beyond collecting an email address and asking for the permission to contact consumers via this channel.
Find out how they want to hear from you, and what they’re interested in. Then, customize your interactions based on what they care about, or even better, offer them things based on that interest. This can positively impact the way they view your brand. Sephora is a great example of a company that does it well.
Value is in the eye of the beholder
Tips, behind the scenes footage, recommendations, advanced access – these are all ways to empower the consumer and encourage them to try your product or build loyalty and advocacy without giving the margin away. Customer expectations go far beyond cost and discount, and so should your engagement and interactions with them.
Remember that you are not the only one out there
Your offering may be the next best thing since peanut butter and chocolate made two great tastes that taste great together, but you better believe that another brand is making the same claim.
The power is in the relationship, the value of the engagement, and supporting customer expectations. Be consistent in the delivery of what you promise, communicate it in a way that is expedient and accessible for the consumer, and always try and maintain an open channel of communication, both inbound and outbound. Without this, you’re just another provider, fighting for a busy customer in a crowded and noisy marketplace.
Do your homework, and assume your customers will do the same. This will help give you a competitive advantage in your offerings and help you stand head and shoulders above other brands with similar products or services.