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Transforming customer experience into an actionable marketing strategy: A guide

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The workforce as we know it is changing and companies must be ready to adapt to fast change as we become ever more tech-centric. However, despite the digital noise there is one element that will always remain a constant requirement for success; delivering an excellent customer experience (CX) and maintaining a well-received brand image.

In our highly connected 'always on' digital world, CX combined with word of mouth is potentially one of the most powerful marketing tools for brands today, backed up by a study that shows 92% of consumers believe suggestions from people they know over any other form of advertising. Advancing technology is now allowing for these opinions to be voiced on a global scale across the likes of social media and review sites. With this opportunity to reach a wealth of potential new customers, brands which make themselves personable and their service customer-centric can work to set themselves apart from competitors, without the need for extremely elaborate marketing strategies.

CX at its best

Some successful brands are where they are today through the power of word of mouth alone, as opposed to costly advertising. One clear example is online clothing and shoe retailer, Zappos. The company has developed a reputation of having excellent service and with its ability to please customers achieved through first hand customer insights. The website has ensured that consumers are now loyal and return to buy products – ultimately driving customer retention and an increase in profit.

Ensuring customers enjoy experiences with a brand, the way businesses market themselves as well as the way they develop customer care campaigns can all help to create a sense of understanding and community amongst customers. For example, taking the time to make communication unintrusive, human and resonate more personally can be a key driver of quality CX. According to a survey on content marketing, the majority (80%) said delivering personalised content, for example personalised emails targeted to suit individual experiences is more effective than delivering ‘unpersonalised’ content to visitors. As a result of this, the customers that receive personalised content will most likely continue to use your product/service and endorse your business to others.

A great example of this executed effectively is Netflix’s email campaigns. Despite being one of the largest companies worldwide, Netflix has mastered the tactic of personal recommendations and suggests shows that are similar to what their customers have previously watched. As long as the brand has enough data to provide insights on this, this is a great way to be proactive in making the customer experience efficient, easy and seamless, which ultimately helps to nurture loyalty, as well as short-term sales.

Turning CX into actionable insights

Social media now also plays a particularly crucial role for brands looking to market themselves through good customer journeys. For many, it is now a core marketing channel with the potential to reach a wealth of new customers and can also be used as a research tool for understanding the problems in the customer journey and improving their experience. However, the solutions readily available to businesses now mean that these satisfied customer insights can now be taken one step further, to be measured and then developed into new ways to market their service.

The sheer volume of conversations taking place on platforms like Twitter and popular review sites make them an effective way for marketers to not only reach customers, but also enables for positive customer experiences to be published and interacted with. Integrating tools into these channels then also allows these insights to be turned into a research opportunity, highlighting customers pain points and allowing companies to improve overall experience.

The more customer insights a business receives about their product or service, the more you learn and understand your customers patterns and trends associated with your business. With customer insights coming through as data in a variety of forms – mainly structured and unstructured, businesses can put the insights together, whether it be big or small and gain a clearer picture of your customers’ way of thinking and how they can dramatically enhance and boost customer experience.

There are however, some challenges that brands can be faced with when it comes to using customer experience to inform their marketing strategy. Companies can often spend a lot of time gathering and measuring customer insight data they receive and meticulously mapping all customer pain points to try and tailor their marketing to overcome these customer perceptions. Using solutions to make this process as efficient as possible can help brands to maximise the opportunity to turn CX into new avenues for growth.

Through the likes of analytics tools, which offer insights into the sentiment of direct engagements with a brand from the public across various digital channels and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, companies can gather and measure their interactions with current and potential customers, understand them more effectively and ultimately use organic insights of endorsement and satisfaction to fuel their marketing approach.

With technological advancements increasing daily, it is becoming a lot easier for companies to weave in their customer insights and turn this into an intelligent marketing strategy. Brands must now realise the influence that customer experiences has on consumer decision-making today, if they are to succeed in using it to market themselves in our increasingly digital world.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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10 questions with…. MediaLad

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In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to the most anonymous of industry commentators – MediaLad

What was your first job?

Baker.

Why did you get into advertising?

I’ve always had a business or economic brain and marketing was the most attractive area for me given the psychology and quantitative aspects of it.

What’s the worst buzzword in the industry?

Transparency, leverage, gap – take your pick.

Leverage – makes it sound like you’re using someone or something to get around a problem not solve it.

Gap – basically means someone isn’t doing their job.

Transparency – no one knows what transparency actually is until they try to do it and fail miserably at it.

If you could improve Twitter – how would you go about it?

Tweetups with people near you or a gaming element to it a la HQ.

Which industry event do you have to attend every year?

The IAA Xmas ball – The biggest celebration of media in the calendar year.

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the ad industry since working within it?

The most surprising thing is how little the so-called knowledgeable industry experts get to grips with both sides of the buy or sell side. The fact that they don’t know that not all third-party data can be bought on premium publications (even before GDPR). The fact that some technology does not interact with others in the most fluid way, yet expect a “transparency” that just will not be there unless there is a drastic change. The fact no one even talks about that astounds me. The fact they’re so focused on the buzzwords and chasing followers or awards, and not actually fixing the problems pisses me off.

Who is the one person in advertising whose advice everyone should listen to – other than yourself?

The guys at Avocet for digital buying, namely Ezra Pierce and Simon Critchley.

Who or what did you have posters of on your wall while growing up?

Eric Cantona, and House Record Labels.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

There’s a couple. From a life perspective, it’s about how much is in your control. 70% of your life is outside of your control. Stuff that happens to others in your life like your partner, parents, and loved ones. The stuff they do to annoy or delight you. 20% is what you’re in control of including life choices and what you do for fun, work, spare time etc. The rest is just pure luck and chance. For that reason only take time on the 20% as you really don’t have a lot of say on the rest.

What do you think ‘Media Lad’ means to the industry and what has being him meant to yourself?

I mean it started as a joke for the company I used to work for. I handed my notice in and had a bit of time, Twitter was new to me and I used it as a bit of a platform to promote jokes in my career that turned out to be common problems faced by everyone. It’s turned into this mad Banksy type character that (most) people enjoy, and want to unmask. I am honestly so humbled by that. Others hate it, for calling out their shit, but you know what… it’s not about who I am but it’s about what should be the “right” way to do media or your job. Bring perspective and enthusiasm to a job that really doesn’t save any lives or do anything meaningful in the world apart from raise awareness for certain companies/products. I try not to raise my own profile as (believe it or not) I’m not that type of guy that wants a headache to appear on stage. I’m busy working for my clients and that’s what motivates me.

More entries from 10 Questions With… can be found here.

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Online advertising has alienated our most valuable asset – the consumer

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It’s an understatement to say things have changed since I started my career in publishing 34 years ago, and mostly for the right reasons. The industry has moved on and some of those less palatable institutional barriers have been broken down. Yet there are certain industry behaviours that are having a real impact on original content creators, and they are so often borne from preventable consequences.

In many instances, these could be negated through the reapplication of ‘guiding principles’ that have perhaps been lost along the way.

It’s time we took a look back to make sense of what’s in front

The media industry has always been a sum of its parts, with different skills and disciplines working, mostly, in partnership. There was a sense you belonged to something special, and you knew you were directed by principles honed from many years of evolving media and advertising practices.

But it’s time to face the truth: today, consumers lack trust in digital advertising. In a quest for infinite online inventory, the crucial relationship between brand and consumer – that was built on shared values and respect – has become commoditised and jeopardised, quelling any desire for users to engage with ad campaigns. How have we got to a place where advertising that lives in the online world has all but alienated its most valuable asset – the consumer?

And no matter how many smart and inspiring examples of diversification and new monetisation models we see emerging, for original content creators, a base level of advertising remains essential.

There needs to be a change in behaviour

Many promises have been made to re-evaluate advertising practices and there’s an acknowledgement that quality and context matters. However, very little seems to have moved on and there remains limited evidence to suggest any measurable change in behaviour.

I’m not here to knock the technology that has enabled so much in modern life or the dominance of social media in which many users choose to consume news. Yet there is an obnoxious disparity around ‘standards’, accountability, and responsibility, and the right to compete fairly for advertiser funds that enable and sustain the creators of original quality journalism and content.

Despite all efforts to collaborate and support the industry’s wider call for greater parity, media owners with a long-established code of conduct and complete accountability for every single item present on their site continue to be at a disadvantage. Media organisations have always been defined by their transparent policies. So how is that an organisation like Facebook – that has such an impact and influence on the industry – is able to prosper and have a significant amount of revenue derived from online advertising, without being defined as a media business, and therefore does not need to adhere to any of the policies or codes of practice that is required by others?

As long as these organisations continue to be the principle benefactors from a type of advertising purchase behaviour, they have no motivation to change. It is only when we see a promised change in the advertisers’ behaviour, that the technology businesses themselves will be forced to re-examine their practices – meanwhile they will continue to enjoy all the spoils while residing outside of the union of all other media practitioners.

Driving better standards, and meaningful returns

As media owners, we continue to value the long-established trading partnerships centred on mutually defined policy and protocol, and relationships built on trust. These values matter.

This is a call to advertisers to check this current commodity driven behaviour, to take a moment to reflect, and work with publishers, as partners. But we also need to be sure that in striving for this goal we aren’t diluting standards, and the desire to improve accountability doesn’t just find us looking to provide a definition around practices that would otherwise be deemed as sub-standard.

Within the industry, we have in place numerous compliance guidelines. The IAB has been tireless in its efforts to bring the industry together to agree on a variety of advertising technology compliance standards. But what use are these if there is no accountability and seemingly no process to enforce compliance? While other established media channels have flight checkers in place – for both creative compliance and copy integrity – with all this wonderful technology, why does it not exist online?

And what about the extent of these standards? Premium publishers operate to much higher standards than laid out by these bodies, and always have done. They are self-regulated and they are accountable. And while I strongly support the adoption of universal standards for the good of the industry, it doesn’t change the fact they represent something that is significantly less than what we can actually provide.

At AOP, we’re committed to surfacing these challenges and we are striving to find practical answers, recommendations, and examples of best practice to help cement the future of advertising and publishing. But we must all commit to win back the trust of the consumer and return to a place of integrity – and continue to succeed as an industry I have always been proud to be part of.

Richard Reeves is managing director at AOP

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‘Project Dragonfly’: Google’s rumoured censor-friendly launch in China

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It’s common knowledge that Google, as present as it is in our daily lives, does not enjoy the same ubiquity in China, and hasn’t done for eight years.

Leaked meeting minutes from the corporation, however, suggest that could be about to change.

Codenamed ‘Project Dragonfly’, the search giant is allegedly in the midst of a bid to launch in China in an iteration that would play ball with Beijing’s hardline censorship policies.

According to a transcript from a meeting led by Google’s search engine chief, Ben Gomes, ambitions for Dragonfly were to reach “the next billion” users and launch within “six to nine months”.

Gomes said that China was “arguably the most interesting market in the world today”, according to the transcript published yesterday by The Intercept, said to have taken place on July 18.

“It’s not just a one-way street. China will teach us things that we don’t know,” Gomes told staff. “We have built a set of hacks and we have kept them.

"Overall I just want to thank you guys for all the work you have put in.

"We have to be focused on what we want to enable," Gomes says. "And then when the opening happens we are ready for it."

According to the South China Morning Post, Project Dragonfly has previously been reported as the codename for a censored search app specifically for the Chinese market.

Blacklisting any websites related to human rights, democracy, religion and any other issues deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, the country’s internet censorship laws are considered the most extensive and advanced in the world.

In the meeting, Gomes reportedly acknowledged that trade wars between the US and China were causing difficulties in negotiations with Communist Party officials in Beijing, whose approval Google would need to launch the search engine.

Re-launching in China would open up a vast audience and a matched opportunity to scale its advertising operations globally, competing with Asia’s ad tech giants such as Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.

Away from China, however, the move – which would be contributing to China’s hardline stance on free speech – could be seen as a far cry from the search giant’s original “don’t be evil” policy.

The reveal of the leaked transcript also comes following a reveal of Google’s efforts to cover up a Google+ data breach, which resulted in potential vulnerabilities to private data attached to 500K users.

As noted by Business Insider, side-by-side, these revelations set a worrying trend of a very powerful company acting in secrecy, and despite its efforts to appear the opposite, unethically.

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?

Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

All copyrights for this article are reserved to their respective authors.

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