Rapidly evolving technology and the effect of the mobile internet on daily lives have had a pretty profound impact on customers, who have developed new habits of exploring, discovering, connecting, and buying on the go.
Customers now expect deliveries within 1 day, the same day or hours - answers within micro-seconds. In today’s world, it is not brands but consumers who are the real innovators, because they’ve embraced digital technologies to craft custom, personal experiences that conform to their lives. All in real-time. In any order. On a whim. Standing in line. Any time of the day or night. Welcome to what we at Oracle call "The Experience Economy."
Customer journeys are not linear. They switch moment to moment as they experiment fearlessly with your products and services and expect you to respond. The experience a brand provides its customer within this moment of engagement is more important than the actual product or service itself. Winning companies embrace this view.
Transforming Your Customer Experience
While marketers understand the customer’s expectations of a personalized experience, most struggle to ingest the amount of available customer data but have an even bigger challenge acting on that data.
Generally, most marketers are segmenting and personalizing using about 5 customer attributes. The result is that every customer is treated the same and the brand experience is unremarkable. Think about buying a suit that comes in three sizes – small, medium and large. Consumers will only know that these brands “exist.” They see it. Maybe they try it and form some early opinion about it, but that’s all. Much like meeting a new person at a party, customers quickly lose interest and leave in search of a brand that offers a more meaningful relationship. To a customer, at best, they know that your brand exists. No big deal.
Top 10% Marketers
The top 10% of marketers use about 20 customer attributes to segment and personalize the marketing message. However, classifying customers using this relatively small number of attributes does not provide an accurate nor personal view of the customer. The human connection can fall flat. This is a suit that comes in more sizes, but is still purchased “off the rack”. For the top 10%, there is a chance for a customer relationship to develop. Consumers begin to attach deeper meaning or think about the brand in certain ways. Loyalty may be fragile, but is beginning to develop.
Top 1% Marketers
The top 1% of marketers are fanatical about data & customer attributes to always strive to make the “human” connection magical. In addition to capturing customer engagement and interaction data, these top 1% use identity resolution to accurately connect purchase, service, lifestyle and life-stage data to increase the number of usable customer attributes. These marketers use 100s of customer attributes and while these marketers start with segments similar to the data-driven marketer, they can enhance their use with advanced decisioning tools and predictive models to produce even more personalized human-connection messages.
For the top 1%, customers might incorporate a business or a product into a part of their lives, or think of the brand as something that shapes or defines them. This is the fitted suit, tailored to exactly fit the customer.
The World's Best Marketers
The world’s best Marketers are always increasing the use of customer attributes to continuously delight their customers in new ways. For the world’s best - very few companies (or people!) are able to take the relationship beyond that. The brand is indispensable and would be forgiven no matter what happens. To customers, these brands are their first and only choice.
These world-best class marketers use 1000s of attributes per customer in their decisioning tools and delivery systems to deliver superior experiences with massive, intelligent data. These marketers orchestrate marketing messages to produce contextual and nuanced communications that deliver exceptional customer experiences in a seamless and highly relevant context across advertising, marketing, commerce, loyalty, service and support. Customers develop strong feelings based on their experience and will actively defend and promote the brand. This is the tailored suit, but now customized with personal accessories to deliver a unique experience.
The biggest predictor of brand success is the number of customer attributes used intelligently to deliver exceptional customer experiences!
Your job as a brand is to accelerate the use of attributes to be able to thrive and win in your designated industry.
Now More than Ever
To say that the pandemic has changed our world seems cliché, but the impact on marketers is very real. The stay-at-home orders and the closure of businesses had a sudden and immediate impact on marketing communications. Notices of store closures and shifting policies replaced promotional messages overnight. Customer behaviors changed as well. There was a shift to online shopping, increased interest in home supplies, demand for delivery services and no-touch retail.
Brands who were already using AI and machine learning to determine best send time and product recommendations were able to identify and react to changes in customer behavior in real time. Marketers who have more inputs and customer attributes will be able to learn faster. This allows the marketers to spend more time focused on preparing for the next event – a return to business – and other more strategic marketing communications. The marketers using the one-size-fits-all approach are scrambling to catch up, unable to meet the opportunity in the moment, before it's gone.
Consider how many customer attributes you are really using in your marketing efforts and the customer experience you're creating. If you are using about 5 attributes, you're not alone. Can your business transform to provide exceptional customer experiences? Look for my next blog post on developing your transformation action plan to learn more.
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Dan Ewing is a global marketing strategist enabling marketers to innovate, win market share and develop marketing programs that provide highly personalized, timely and contextual conversations with their customers. With each customer engagement, his goal is to inspire his customers to optimize the maximum value of technology. He partners with them to learn their business goals and objectives and then share custom insights designed to drive and improve their strategy, ultimately increasing their bottom-line.