Consumers are subjected to a steady barrage of marketing messages every day. Whenever they perform an online search, visit their social page, read a magazine, drive to work or watch a television program, they are exposed to advertisements competing for their attention.
You can learn a lot from your customers, but only if you make the effort to understand what they are saying to you. The first step is to determine whether you "have what it takes" to leverage the information you can gain from your customers.
Once reserved for only the "big players," sophisticated solutions for merging digital and offline marketing efforts are now available to virtually all companies. The new automated systems make it easier to collect data while the explosion in smartphone usage gives marketers the opportunity to literally put their messages in the hands of their customers. However, you must have a detailed understanding of your customers, such as where and when they want to interact with you, what they need and what they insist you supply.
The era of big data has given marketers many new opportunities, and it is the driving force behind the ability to develop accurate analytics or customer personas. Ultimately, however, your success depends on your ability to manage your data efficiently.
Your customers are more demanding than ever. They expect you to provide a seamless experience that spans all channels. They expect you to be proactive about issues and reach out to them when you discover an issue rather than waiting for them to contact you. They expect you to provide them with online content, be active on the social sites and provide them with a personalized, engaging experience. However, the more touchpoints you have with your customers, the greater the risk is that something could go wrong — and negative customer experiences can have a profound impact on their loyalty.
If you want to meet your customers' expectations, you must address their overall experience. In some organizations, this can be hindered by internal processes or company culture.
Marketers are exposed to a bevy of buzzwords on a daily basis. Recently, there has been a great deal of attention paid to the terms multi-channel, cross-channel and omni-channel. In some people's minds, these are just three names for the same thing. In reality, although they share some similarities, the terms actually represent very different concepts.
When the concept of the sales funnel was introduced shortly before the turn of the 20th century, the customer's purchase journey was a linear progression with four identifiable steps.
The return on expenses related to marketing efforts has traditionally been difficult to quantify. In the past, companies often felt that if revenue was increasing, then marketing efforts were successful, and if revenue was dropping, then the marketing plan needed to be adjusted. Given the competitive environment in which companies have had to operate over the last decade or so, this simplistic approach to measuring the effectiveness of marketing efforts is as obsolete as door-to-door sales representatives who only make cold calls.
Modern CEOs and CFOs want to see data that proves whether marketing efforts are succeeding or failing. They want facts, and they want those facts to be supported. They are not interested in guesses, feelings or projections that are not based on reliable data. They want data-driven marketing rather than marketing that merely reacts to the competition or that relies on intuition. They want a detailed breakdown of marketing costs compared to the benefits the company gains from the expenditures. In short, they want marketers to justify virtually every dollar spent by the marketing department.
More and more, spending on marketing efforts is being scrutinized closely by other C-suite executives. Marketers are being asked to assign real, definitive rates of return on their spending. In a few organizations, the perception of marketing as a "necessary evil" has persisted, and executives see an opportunity to force marketers to justify their existence. More often, the scrutiny results from the knowledge that more data than ever before is being collected; top managers expect marketers to leverage this data to provide them with the information they want.
The problem is that many marketers are not sure what they should be measuring. They might be using metrics that are very meaningful to marketing or sales but are of little use to a CEO. They might be tracking one KPI without tracking a second KPI that is required to give true meaning to the first.
Every organization is different, and the metrics they need to collect vary by organization. However, if you are struggling to determine which metrics might be most useful to your company, you might want to consider using some of the following.
Customer engagement is now just as important as customer service. It is the authentic relationships with customers elevated by the influence of dialogue and customer experience within business transactions that increasingly drive business in this social media era. Customer engagement, can however, prove difficult to measure when the nature of engagement is so often based on qualitative, subjective terms.