Casey Baker, Vice President, Digital Marketing, Bank OZK
Let’s look to the a few customer experience leaders as we explore this topic. Walmart offers thousands of different geographic and demographic specific SKU selections across their 4700+ locations in the US. eBay offers millions of unique, customized content based on products users have purchased or categories in which they’ve expressed interest. Even Google uses predictive text to help accommodate (or nudge) every single user’s internet experience. If you notice a trend here, then you understand the value of the customer experience in today’s digital world. With more than two decades experience across multiple industries from face-to-face retail to eCommerce, to B2B lead generation and I’ve witnessed first-hand that the customer journey is at the center of the success of top companies. Here is a simple breakdown of how you can master today’s customer experience for your own business.
Know Your Audience
“The customer is always right.” Nowhere is that mantra proven more than by digital metrics: clicks, pages per session, conversions, etc. Some of us might think we have the marketing funnel controlled via technology, with timed or exit-intent triggered pop-ups or with cleverly designed and copy written pages. These are sure to discourage anything but a positive response. The fact is everything – from the initial click to a completed transaction– is controlled entirely by the user. If your ads aren’t compelling, your performance will show it. If you content is trash, your analytics will show it. If your product or in-person experience is bad, don’t even look at your reviews on social media, or Google. No matter your skills or the technology you use – if you don’t focus on the customer, learn who they are and what they want – and provide appropriate solutions through your product or service – success will be impossible.
Know Your Industry
Taking it a step further, knowing your customer helps you understand your industry. A/B testing is a tactic we use constantly to prove our hypotheses and validate and predict customer behavior. If you have an idea that you absolutely must try, then test it first. Prove your idea works - or prove to yourself that it doesn’t. Either way, let the customer decide the best approach.
“While technology is a huge part of the marketing landscape, it’s only a portion of what’s required to successfully navigate the marketing waters. Listen and learn. Get to know your audience. This will help you understand your industry and the world in which you’re competing”
It’s equally important that you understand the hits and misses of your previous campaign. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. At the same time, a healthy amount of competitive analysis provides insight to help you refine offerings, services, price points and message. Everything from channel performance to messaging and audience insights to creative warrant a performance assessment. If you don’t learn from your past mistakes, you’ll be doomed to repeat them.
For example, while working on a client’s business, we crafted a series of branding ads. We tested multiple colors, logos, CTAs, and fonts across an engagement campaign. We basically let our target audience decide how the brand should look. We had fun making a guessing game of what color or logo would get the most engagement and we were surprised by the results every single time! In that same way, don’t assume you know better than the customer.
Know Your Tools
In college, I did construction work to help pay the bills. There was a slew of tools that were required to bring on Day One. One of these tools was a chalk reel. Being young (and cheap) I thought I knew better and didn’t consider this a necessary expense. After making a single cut where I wasted nearly a dozen sheets of plywood, I decided a $10 chalk reel would be the more cost-effective option.
Similarly, you need to know the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of your company’s tech stack. You may have a stronger solution in mind, but it’s never safe to just assume that you’re correct. Not only might you make a poor investment in new technology or cut an essential piece of tech you didn’t know was needed, but you just might damage your reputation. Be slow to speak (or act) and quick to listen. You can discover a lot if you ask questions regarding why your company leverages the tech you have. Then you can begin to identify the gaps, make changes and/or identify supplemental tech investments to optimize your marketing performance. Don’t be hasty – make educated decisions in your tech stack.
Know Your Data
Customer personas, industry standards, and technology are all important, but it’s the ability to sift through the mountains of data, then organize and communicate information accurately and concisely.
I’ll be the first to admit there is a lot of data to go through and it can be overwhelming. As a leader, and I can’t stress this enough, you must compartmentalize the data. Compartmentalization is a process that helps organize a plethora of information into actionable steps. It’s not that you over generalize customer data or put a positive spin on a poor campaign’s performance. Instead, it’s a skill used to translate data from past campaigns and market trends into educated, honest, and improved steps for the next campaign. It takes a healthy bit of compartmentalizing to tackle the gamut of information and options to determine the best way forward.
While technology is a huge part of the marketing landscape, it’s only a portion of what’s required to successfully navigate the marketing waters. Listen and learn. Get to know your audience. This will help you understand your industry and the world in which you’re competing. Learn and analyze your existing tech stack – ask more questions. Finally, use the lens of compartmentalized data to increase performance and – instead of focusing on revenue, focus on the enhancement of your customer’s experience. Revenue will follow.