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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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A big hairy toe appears on NYC Subway as Billie expands ‘Project Body Hair’ into OOH

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Direct-to-consumer (DTC) razor brand Billie has taken to New York City’s Subway for the launch of its first out-of-home campaign, a series of images depicting real female hair on previously undepicted body parts – including the toe.

‘The underrated toe shave’ – a close shot of a woman shaving her immaculately pedicured-yet-fuzzy digits – is just one of the images featured in the campaign now live in Williamsburg’s Bedford station.

Other creative features armpits in various states of regrowth, and a razor cutting through the lawn of a women’s leg.

The work was derived from Billie’s Project Body Hair launch video. The razor brand’s overarching ad campaign, which racked up 22m views across social media, was lauded internationally for being the first to depict real body hair.

The shot of a toe being shaved in the film triggered a particularly positive reaction, which led Billie to place a similar image front-and-center of its first foray into OOH, explained founder Georgina Gooley.

“The poster of the hairy, big toe is…big!” she told The Drum. “We’ve received overwhelming support for acknowledging ‘underrated shaves’ and this will be the first time a toe is displayed like this in OOH.

"We’re hopeful women in Williamsburg will be supportive of us doing things a little bit differently. It was incredible to watch the [Project Body Hair] film ‘go viral’ and it’s been even more rewarding to see it start an industry trend and change the way women are portrayed in advertising.”

The initial campaign led Billie’s sales to double in one week. The brand also carved out the project’s longevity with the creation of a free-to-access image library of women proudly exhibiting their body hair.

Now, with an expansion into OOH, Billie joins the ranks of subscription-based, DTC brands capitalizing on the Subway’s inventory to reach young, affluent audiences.

“We’re looking forward to seeing how [outdoor] performs as part of our larger 'test and learn' strategy,” said Gooley.

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AdVent: agencies share their festive gripes

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The Drum Network asked member agencies what they hated most about the marketing industry and its output at Christmas time. Here is a selection of the responses…

Ian MacArthur of Sagittarius

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Ian MacArthur, global digital strategy director, Sagittarius

Christmas is coming and the creative goose is getting fat. Here comes another barrage of bloated nonsense to help us punters choose which retailer we should buy our pigs in blankets from. It feels like this year has gone to a new low as more brands feel the need to attempt yule tide brand positioning and getting it ‘oh so wrong’.

The festive season gets cluttered and it requires total synergy between agency and client to crack the brief. The perfect mix of bravery and empathy are the only tools that will stop you from taking a critical hammering from the industry and customers alike. Creatives are under serious pressure because clients have a strong emotional view about what Christmas means to themselves and their customers and this can often steer the concept miles off course.

Popular culture is the canvas and springboard but that’s no excuse to raid Santa’s sack of mediocrity and pull out ideas that have been done better before. I think all agency teams should sit with their clients and watch 2 days of previous adverts and deconstruct the mechanics that create success. There are a handful of formulae that will resonate and then you have creative freedom within that framework.

It’s too easy to criticise John Lewis but their standards are far higher than almost every other brand and they’ve succeeded again this year. ‘Piano’ is good storytelling and they’ve even repurposed the creative from a viewer perspective for sister brand Waitrose.

Lidl have also smashed it by running a number of shorts that simply do product placement followed by disaster-based humour. They’ve also cleverly used ‘it’s a Lidl bit funny’ to riff off John Lewis and position their keyboard sales via social media.

But these glimmers are rare when the vast majority miss the sweet spot in one way or another. Iceland went too early creating social media palm oil burnout, Sainsbury’s rely on a visual punchline (yes, the flying plug) to rescue an otherwise dreary ad, Aldi have attempted trolling with Veg Dwight but the ship has sailed and the most spectacular copy-cat award goes to Asda who have simply reshot the intro to Jackass the Movie on snow.

Overall it won’t be a December to remember.

Liam Potter of Mashbo

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Liam Potter, creative director, Mashbo

Call me the Grinch, but for me ‘Christmas advertising as an event’ has drained the joy out of festive campaigns. The hype surrounding the annual unveiling of the John Lewis advert, followed by the attempts of other big brands and supermarkets just serves to remind me that our image of Christmas has been dragged out of our brains and served back to us with a price tag to participate.

Of course, the brands and businesses in the same tier as John Lewis do Yule well and with a clear purpose. All the flare and fanfare will deliver the results they’re looking for. What bothers me most is the trickle down effect that causes other, much smaller businesses to think they need a piece of that (mince) pie too.

While a festive flourish on a brand website might actually complement a big brand campaign, a solicitor’s firm is unlikely to see a return on forking out to add falling snow and plinky plonk Christmas music to every page of their website. I have spent more than a few festive seasons talking clients out of implementing creative ideas that won’t make an impact on their business.

The noise around big brand campaigns unleashes a flurry of last-minute demands for festive work regardless, often where creative has been abandoned all year. The deadlines are tight and expectations unrealistic and the budgets thrown at you in panic could have sustained a much more effective year-long campaign.

Darren Wilson of Fat Media.

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Darren Wilson, design director, Fat Media Group

My biggest pet peeve about Christmas campaign creative is that it is always a rush!

Christmas is the same day every year. It’s not a surprise. Yet time and again we receive last-minute briefs with short deadlines. While we always hit them, the campaign is never as strong as if we’d had a decent amount of time to consider them.

My advice to marketers would be to start thinking about your Christmas campaign as early as possible. In fact, start as soon as you launch the current year’s – start thinking about how you can beat it. Eight months later, you’ll have a load of ideas to choose from, ones which you have had time to refine and adapt to suit the current climate (you don’t think it’s a coincidence that Elton John is starring in John Lewis’ after announcing his farewell tour?)

This way by the time you give your agency the brief in, say, September, you’ll have an amazing idea and one that the creative team can really run with and develop in the run-up to December. Instead of a generic campaign with extra snowflakes and tinsel, you’ll have an awesome message about Christmas that really resonates with your audience.

Henry Rossiter of JJ Marketing

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Henry Rossiter, creative director, JJ

The Christmas ad season comes around far too fast, and relentlessly earlier each year.

Of course, it’s a necessity for brands to knock on the tv screen, the laptop and mobile and sing as loudly as possible of what delights they have on offer. Just like last year. And the year before that.

There will be the boring ‘same-old-same-old’ stuff without much thought, or the stuff that’s trying too hard. But there will also be the main present that hits the mark. For me, it was started by John Lewis and ‘for gifts you can’t wait to give’ back in 2011. A small boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas. It was an insight that turned things around to a feeling of what Christmas actually is about – the joy of giving. This year, Debenhams has got a smattering of it, with ’do a bit of you know you did good’.

I take Christmas ads at face value. Some, the purely functional ones, I discard straight away. With others, I wonder why they’re trying too hard and was it really meant for me. And then there are ones that you say yes, you got me, I’ll remember that one.

A good test is, can you remember any ads from last Christmas? I can only think of two.

This year, the one with the piano does hit the right note (though I’m surprised they had to use a celebrity, as I love the charm of building a brand from original ideas). Meanwhile, the brand that blatantly hijacked a worthy cause left me frozen with incredulity and falls flat.

Hey, it’s Christmas and the brands that will resonate with consumers will be the ones that touch an emotional nerve or entertain. Just like presents themselves.

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Channel 4 CMCO Dan Brooke departs to launch purpose-driven agency

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Channel 4 is to part ways with its chief marketing and communications officer (CMCO) Dan Brooke, who is leaving to launch a purpose-driven marketing and comms business.

Brooke will hang up his hat early in 2019 to start his new venture after eight years in the role. During his career at Channel 4, he secured a slew of award wins including a Cannes Lions Grand Prix in 2016.

He helped oversee a full transformation at the broadcaster during his tenure. Earlier this year it rolled out a network-wide rebrand that looked to deliver a look more suited for digital devices and to reflect the increased capabilities of high definition screens.

As board champion for inclusion and diversity, Brooke also embraced worthy causes such as the diversity fund it launched in 2016, baiting brands with £1m free airtime to pitch ads showcasing minorities in prime-time spots. Engine and the RAF won this year's accolade in October.

Alex Mahon, Channel 4's chief executive, said: “Dan has made a huge and far-reaching contribution to the life and success of Channel 4 over many years. I’d like to thank Dan personally for the support and advice he has offered me in my first year and, on behalf of the whole organisation, wish him the very best with his future plans.”

Brooke added: “I have been lucky enough to have the most wonderful job, in a company that I adore, for many years. I’m proud of the things my incredibly talented marketing and communications teams have achieved and that the most ground-breaking of this work has achieved such powerful results and consistent global recognition. I’m also proud to have been the board champion for diversity and inclusion, leading the drive that saw Channel 4 voted Britain’s Best Diverse Company.

"With the 4 All The UK plan now successfully launched it’s a good time to leave on a high and use these successes as a springboard for my burgeoning ambition to help other mission and purpose-driven companies grow.”

The news comes during a time of flux for the national broadcaster after it announced it would move 300 jobs out of London to the regions, chiefly Leeds, with creative hubs also in Bristol and Glasgow. This is part of its plan to ramp up its regional commissioning by £250m a year.

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