Okay everyone. We’re about to talk some $h!+ on big names that put out marketing data (you know, like Google, Facebook, and big research firms that sell microdata). Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the data is valuable. The research is noteworthy. The takeaways are often useful. But wow, it’s my professional advice that you not put all your eggs in their basket when it comes to relating to your customers, AKA, customer experience and loyalty building. Why? They tend to look at it as a KPI to make, a blip in the sales cycle, rather than a habit of relationship building and nurturing.
And that is…… simply cold?
We’ve admitted that the act of marketing is manipulative. That’s why we clearly and often state our values, boundaries, and practices we’ve worked on over the last 10 years as a top advertising agency in Austin, TX (and the U.S. and the world).
Anyhoo, without naming names, we’re going to paraphrase a few of the insights/ “steps for CMOs” we recently found in a huge marketing best practices report, and adjust them to what we actually do (and therefore, what you as a brand should be doing to reach your brand building/ growth marketing goals). Away!
— Expand how you think about customer data to include “experience data.” AKA, how your customers experience your brand.
Excuse us for being blunt but… what on earth are you monitoring amongst your target consumers if it doesn’t include how they experience your brand? The phraseology of this part of the report (and many reports like it) have us very alarmed and curious as to what people think brand building is. So we’re going to give the benefit of the doubt and assume that they mean, allocate more resources to listening to customers. Here are a few examples of what you should have insights into if you’re appropriately collecting experience data:
-What’s the biggest hurdle your brand faces when bringing in customers? Is it understanding? Is it price point? For example, you know your product or service is good; your customers would see that if they converted. So the biggest hurdle to them converting is making sure they fully understand what they’d be getting/ benefiting from. Therefore, you know your exposure campaigns should reach the same people multiple times and build understanding before expecting a click-through. This provides a framework for social media, ad, content marketing, and email marketing teams. You collect this data through phone, chat, and social media conversations, on top of the handy hard data of bounce rates and time spent on brand media.
-How many mistakes are you allowed to make as a brand (PR slip-ups, return policies, etc) before you lose a customer? If you’ve built loyalty, customers will stick around as long as you proactively resolve the issue. If you haven’t, it’s a hit-and-quit, try-then-die relationship. One slip-up, and they’re gone. And getting new customers is more expensive than retaining the ones you have.
— The next report tip is that no two customers are the same in terms of when, where, and how often they like to engage with your brand.
-This is obvious. But it goes deeper: How are their buying decisions defined by their interests and behaviors, not only their demographics? What psychographics define who you sell to, and how they make purchase decisions? Does your brand speak to who they actually are, or just what, essentially, they count as on a census?
-If Deloitte says 1 in 4 people aren’t swayed to buy again given daily communications from even their favorite brands, then how should you be interacting with them? Does that mean the other 3 out of 4 will, or are they neutral? What, then, will speak to them — influencers? Sales? To sell means to listen to who they are, not what they look like on a demographic map.
-This also leads to an actually good point from the studies: your options are only as limited as your integrated marketing technology is. To invest in customer experience is to be able to interact with them in varying mediums, at varying times, and with varying messages based on their needs. Yes, it’s a lot of nuance. But nuance pays off when it’s building extensive brand awareness (cough: loyalty).
— Most customers are okay with you using their personal information to cater to them more specifically, but only if you do it in the way they want. Translated? You can have my cookies and personal info as long as you use it in a way that actually speaks to me. Figure that one out.
So, to answer that last one and wrap up here before we end up writing a whole new report, let’s talk about authenticity.
Prospective as well as returning customers are okay with you collecting personal data as long as you use it in a way that speaks to them. Perfectly. Sounds impossible.
Here’s the thing: it is. You can’t reach everyone perfectly. No matter how much experience data, integrated marketing channels, and evolved branding you have, someone is going to be unhappy, unliking Facebook pages, and unsubscribing from emails. That’s just how it is. So how do you take advantage of that last CMO tip?
Be Yourself (No joke here, we mean it)
It’s kind of like having friends as an adult versus as a junior high schooler: Only invest in attracting people that you actually want around you (your brand). And to do that, the main thing you have to do, is be authentic. Speak your mind. Share your vibe. This, certainly, will not be well-received by everybody. But guess what? Those people that are turned off are the exact people you don’t need to waste resources on. By being authentically yourself, your true brand in all its glory will effortlessly attract the right consumers to your doorstep. This in turn optimizes your communication right off the bat, not wasting any time on harder-to-convert audiences who don’t get you.
And that, my friends, I apologize, cannot really be put into a blog. We can’t show you how to be authentic. We can talk about why it’s important and how it pays off (like we did here in Forbes), heck we can be your living example. But we can’t walk you through that, just like no one can walk you through how to be yourself.
But we’ll tell you this: It’s easy if you practice. The veil over entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, etc. that says you have to filter yourself is just that: a veil. See-through. Thin. Consumers (people) see through it at one point or another. And there’s no back-tracking from, “Excuse our mistake/ thing you didn’t like, we were being fake anyway so we’ll just switch to a different fakeness now to please you.”
So, to wrap up: data is valuable. Experience data is everything. But your relationship-building is only as strong as your authenticity. And your authenticity is only as strong as how real you’re willing to be with people.