How To Manage Todays Customer Experience
Walmart offers thousands of different geographic and demographic specific SKU selections across their 4700+ locations in the US. eBay offers millions of unique, customized content based on products users have purchased or categories they’ve expressed interest in. Even Google uses predictive text to help accommodate (or nudge) every single user’s internet experience. If you notice a trend here, then you understand the value of the customer experience in today’s digital world. I have more than 2 decades experience across multiple industries from face-to-face retail, to eCommerce, to B2B lead generation and I’ve witnessed first-hand that the customer journey is at the center of the success of top companies. Here is a simple breakdown of what I’ve seen that will help you master today’s customer experience for your own business.
Know Your Audience
“The customer is always right.” Nowhere is that mantra proven more than by digital metrics: clicks, pages per session, conversions, etc. While some of usmight think we have the marketing funnel completely controlled via technology like timed or exit-intent triggered pop-ups or by cleverly designed and copywritten pages that are sure to discourage anything but a positive response,the fact is everything – from the initial click to a completed transaction– is controlled entirely by the user. If your ads aren’t good, your performance will show it. If you content is trash, your analytics will show it. If your product or in-person experience is bad, God help your reviews on social media, or Google. No matter the skills you have or technology you use – if you refuse to focus on the customer, learn who they are and what they want, then provide them an appropriate solution through your product or service – success will be impossible.
Know Your Industry
Taking it a step further, knowing your customer helps you understand your industry. A/B testing is a tactic we use constantly to protect us from allowing our hypothesis or opinions to overrule true customer behavior. If you have an idea that you absolutely must try, then test it. Prove your idea works - or prove to yourself that it doesn’t. Either way, let the customer decide the best approach.
“While technology is a huge part of the marketing landscape, it’s only a portion of what’s required to successfully navigate the marketing waters. Listen and learn. Get to know your audience. This will help you understand your industry and the world in which you’re competing”
Like knowing your audience, understanding your previous campaign performance in conjunction with a healthy amount of competitor analysis provides insight into your industry. Looking at it from the customer perspective, all your research is focused on identifying how they might have been introduced (or not) to your brand or why they prefer your competitor. Internally, everything from channel performance to messaging, from audience insights to creative – all of it is worth investigating and mapping out how it performed and why. If you have questions about past campaign performance, then your marketing team does as well – and you’ll be doomed to repeat past mistakes until you learn from them.
When I worked at an agency, we created a series of ads to help craft a client’s branding recommendation. We tested multiple colors, logos, CTAs, and fonts across an engagement campaign. We basically let our target audience (who had no vested interest in the brand but would ultimately be served the product in store) decide how the brand should look. My team made a game of guessing what color or logo would get the most engagement and we were surprised by the results every single time! In that same way, don’t assume you know better than the customer.
Know Your Tools
In college, I did construction work to help pay the bills. There was a slew of tools we were required to bring on Day 1. One of
whichwas a chalk reel. Being young (and cheap) I thought I knew better and didn’t consider this a necessary expense. After making a single cut that ended up wasting nearly a dozen sheets of plywood, I decided a $10 chalk reel would be the more cost-effective option.
Similarly, you need to know the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of your company’s tech stack. You very well might have a better solution in mind than what your leadership or even your predecessors chose technology wise, but it’s rarely a safe bet to assume so by default. Not only can you make a poor investment in new technology or cut an essential piece of tech you didn’t know was needed, but you just might damage your reputation (with your team, customers or both) by making such hasty decisions either in the name of performance or budget optimization. Be slow to speak (or act) and quick to listen. You can discover a lot if you ask questions behind why your company leverages the
tech you have. Then you can begin to identify the gaps and any changes or supplemental tech investments needed to optimize your marketing performance. Don’t be hasty – make educated decisions in your tech stack.
Know Your Data
Customer personas, industry standards, and technology are all important, but it’s the ability to sift through mountains of data, organize it to communicate relevant information accurately and concisely, and glean actionable insights from that data that determine the trajectory of a campaign’s (and ultimately a marketing department’s) performance.
I’ll be the first to admit there is a lot of data to go through and it can be overwhelming, but I can’t stress this enough: as a leader, you must compartmentalize the data. Compartmentalization is a process that helps organize a plethora of information into actionable steps. It’s not that you overgeneralize customer data or put a positive spin on a poor campaign’s performance. Instead, it’s a skill used to translate data from past campaigns and market trends into educated, honest, and improved steps for the next campaign. It takes a healthy bit of compartmentalizing to tackle the gamut of information and options one could take.
While technology is a huge part of the marketing landscape, it’s only a portion of what’s required to successfully navigate those waters. Listen and learn. Get to know your audience. That will help you understand your industry (the world you’re competing in). Learn and analyze your existing tech stack – ask more questions initially. Finally, use the lens of compartmentalized data to increase performance and – instead of focusing on revenue, focus on the enhancement of your customer’s experience. Revenue will follow.