As the great American poet, Maya Angelou once said, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The same can be said for customer experience. Most customers are likely to forget your snappy straplines, no matter how sharp your copy is. Customers will also, in most cases, not even notice a new site improvement, no matter how well-executed the design.
But they will never forget how you made them feel.
Getting customer experience right is key
In an age where 88% of CEOs are concerned about customer loyalty, getting customer experience right has never been so important.
Understandably so. Customer acquisition costs are rising, people have more options than ever before, and consequently, every business on the planet is trying to protect and grow their revenue to see out the economic downturn.
Inevitably, this has led to marketing leaders going into battle with their rivals. But as CEO of Intuit, Scott Cook suggests, “Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on the customer.”
Many marketing strategies today still fail to truly put the customer front and centre. This is in many ways predictable and understandable.
As marketing leaders, we’re increasingly asked to focus on optimizing the funnel, introducing and implementing new technologies, and utilizing data-driven decision making. All while looking over our shoulder at what our competitors are doing.
All of these aspects of marketing are important, but we can often forget about customer experience. This is not confined to a single sector, it’s common across almost every industry — from online retail to B2B SaaS, complex electronic components to publishers.
Because so many businesses are in the same boat, however, there’s an opportunity for smart marketing leaders to carve out a competitive advantage.
By putting the customer at the centre of your marketing strategy, and navigating towards becoming a customer-centric business, you can differentiate your brand, drive growth, and create lifetime value from customers who love you beyond the products you sell.
What is a customer-centric marketing strategy?
A customer-centric approach to marketing is designed almost entirely around a customer’s needs, interests, experiences, and expectations.
It is a strategy that puts the customer above all else, using analytics, surveys, empathy, and intuition to create experiences that delight customers.
Ultimately, every aspect of a customer-centric marketing strategy is aligned with the sole purpose of creating optimal customer experiences. When customer-centric marketing strategies work well, your customers will move from buyers to fans and brand advocates.
The first step: Understanding your customers
The first step to putting the customer at the heart of your marketing strategy is understanding their needs, wants, and desires. After all, you can’t build a customer-centric strategy if you don’t understand them as people.
There are many ways to go about understanding customers. Analyzing your data for demographics and purchasing behavior is a good place to start. But we also need to look beyond the numbers. We need to understand what our customers value and care about. We need to approach our customers with an empathy-focused mindset.
Experience your brand’s customer journey for yourself. Speak to your sales team as a customer. Understand how each point on the buyer’s journey makes you (and thus your customer) feel. Find out what your customers are interested in beyond your products. Survey your customers regularly.
These insights will help shape your marketing strategy — from the content you produce, the keywords you try to rank for, to the UX of your website.
Customer centricity and SEO might not be brothers in arms at first glance. But every aspect of SEO today should be about putting the customer first.
The content you serve to customers needs to be exactly what they’re looking for. Search intent is, after all, customer behavior.
Not focusing on customer-centric content will not only harm how high that content ranks in the search results, but it can also lead to customers bouncing off your site and choosing one of your competitors — impacting both brand value and revenue. We need to create content for customers, not algorithms.
Additionally, Google consistently tells us that how users experience our sites is an important consideration when deciding where pages and content appear in search results.
Understanding how customers navigate our site is important, and technical SEO has a big part to play here. Better user experiences also make it easier for customers to find what they need. This not only helps them, but it also helps us. If products are easier to find and easier to purchase, the chances are, sales will organically grow.
Instilling a customer-centric mindset across your organization
Customer-centricity needs to run through the veins and arteries of your organization. It needs to be the lifeblood of your operations.
Though a customer-first marketing strategy is a great place to start, as a marketing leader, it’s important to try and instill this approach across your organization. Now, we know this isn’t easy. A CTO or a CRO, even your CEO, is at first conversation unlikely to throw their weight behind such an approach.
That doesn’t mean the task is impossible.
With the right approach, a CTO will recognize that customer-centric products create better engagement. And a CRO will recognize that a customer-centric approach positively impacts revenue. After all, a more engaged customer is a customer that has a longer customer lifetime value. And as previously stated, 88% of CEOs are already concerned about customer loyalty.