Oxford Dictionaries selected the Face with Tears of Joy emoji as its “word” of the year, stating the pictograph best reflected the ethos, mood, and preoccupations of 2015. While you can debate the semantics of whether it should qualify as a word, scientists validated the idea that emojis have a very real impact on our psyche; absurd as it may seem, looking at a smiley face online activates the same, very specific parts of the brain as when we look at a real human face.
Just as an emoji can elicit an emotion, marketing works best when it speaks to you personally—when you “feel” something, as though the company knows who you are and what you need. That’s why businesses increasingly focus on individualizing messages they create and target specific types of people—or personas.
In a recent paper for the Harvard Business Review, Peter Kriss, a senior research scientist for Medallia, examined the performance of companies that made a concerted effort to connect with customers on an individual level. The result: Customers with the best experiences spent 140% more than those with the poorest experiences.
In Competing for Customers, a book I co-wrote with Amir Hartman and Craig LeGrande of Mainstay, we argue that businesses need to fundamentally transform existing sales, marketing, professional services, support, and product development processes. We believe that businesses must leverage the insights and opportunities gleaned from careful listening to engage with customers in creative new ways and deliver better business outcomes.
For example, at Oracle, we’re using persistent digital connections between our back-end systems and our engineered systems in the field to know when and how to add capacity, patch software, and anticipate issues before they become a problem. The efficiency and effectiveness of these real-time service engagements can create real value for our customers, add “stickiness” to our customer relationships, and spur add-on sales.
We also add a personal dimension to the relationship by connecting our customers with members of our senior management team. Our executives build long-term strategic relationships with executives at our customer companies, and provide guidance to the account teams to ensure our own strategy aligns with the business objectives of our customers. They also represent the voice of the customers internally, at top management levels, and have become a critical component of our customer success strategy.
Competing for Customers explores how marketing can take a leadership role in designing an engagement program that delivers the long-term, strategic relationships for which customers are clamoring.
It might seem simple, but as we see from the impact of even emojis, customers react strongly to attempts to connect with them on a personal level, even in the context of big, impersonal business, and those reactions can lead to that 140% spending increase we all crave.