Marketing is about launch campaigns
Different concepts pop up on our heads when somebody talk about marketing, but if we ask a non-marketing savvy person, it is very likely this first word would be campaign. Marketing is very much tie to campaigns. And it is very true that the campaigns represent, in a high percentage, the time that any marketer spent in their daily job. This could be in the preparation or strategy (segmentation, collateral or images…), run the campaign, or performance analysis for further optimization.
Any of us can name several campaigns that caught our eye, most likely because they are from our favorite brands as consumers. Some of them are punctual actions in certain moments of the year (Christmas, San Valentine, Father or Mather day or black Friday). But other communications are more generic and could be fired at any time. There are important touch points in the customer lifetime such the welcome email when we subscribed to the data base, when we receive the newsletter or the abandoned cart campaign that so many companies are working on.
At the end these campaigns use to reflect the current way or working, usually tie to projects. These are initiative framed in determined timeframe, with a budget, know targeted audience and limited in the time.
Lack of a storyline
However, from the customer and/or consumer point of view, there is a lack of consistency. There is not a storyline across the different touch points. We, as customers and/or consumers ask for something more than a product to the brands. There are several articles taking about the customer experience and the importance to provide added value that helps to differentiate us from our competitors. But not only during the pre-sales cycle, but also during the whole customer lifecycle
The mentioned campaigns above target customers in certain moments. These campaigns will be successful if we are lucky, and of course if we did good preparation job (creativity, activation, copywriting, collaterals and images). Although this is a process we should go through, almost from the scratch, any single time we would like to run other initiative.
Any Company is looking for the loyalty of customers, in order to optimize and expand lifetime value of those. This require that the customer should go through different gateways or phases during this relationship. There are different theories about what should be these phases or stages. Some of them only deviate each other in the names of these steps, therefore deep diving in the details, there is a consistent and agreed approach. It is not easy to standardize this path or funnel, because each company is different, each company run a different business model, use different channels or tactics and there are too many parameters in the equation.
Optimization of the customer experience
One of the main goals of the marketers is design the best possible customer experience, using the different tools and tactics in our toolbox (branding, website, events or trade shows, trade marketing in point of sale, customer services, emails, apps, social media…). Putting all together, in a consistent way, tackling customer paint points, meeting their expectation will end up in a first version of the customer journey. It is important get a deep understanding of our customer, define the touch point we will have and overarch everything with a solid strategy.
Obviously this will be a generic blueprint, because each customer will have their own requirements or particularities, and our communication toward them should be customized. Nowadays almost all the marketing automation platforms can help us in these tasks, and our personalization could be based on the customer communication preferences, their interests or motivations. Anyway, the first step should be the definition of a customer persona. This is the segment we will use as a baseline and it contains all the common attributes and characteristics for our customers, as well as motivations, triggers, pain points, preferences and goals. This will help us to understand how to build up this CDJ (customer decision journey) that will overarch everything discussed in previous lines. It will be easier to understand what kind of communication we should sent, how to approach customers, what channels we should use and the content to be used in each of these interaction. It is key to understand what kind of message when and why sent it. Each step we move forward to in the improvement of the customer experience will head us to better and deeper customization, but without customer knowledge this will be impossible.
Thinking in the relationship in the long run
We shouldn’t forget that what we are looking for is built and make a strong long term relationship with our customers. And the long term part if key, and is what should trigger us the redefinition of our campaigns. Those ones use to be very focus on certain moments, as we found out before. It is very true we should sell to customer our products and solutions. But customers are looking for something more, especially in the corporate (B2B) world. The brand reputation, find a business partner, get product from a company we trust on the values that represents are vital concepts. This is what is disrupting the business, and changing the way companies operate and work. So the purchase, is just one of the moments in the entire lifecycle (and important one of course), but we should take care also of the pre and post sales moments. Both are equally important for the customer-brand relationship. Getting this nailed down, or at least having this mentioned approach, the purchase moment will be easier and faster.
The customer lifecycle could be very long and several phases. In each one the motivations and expectation will be different, and will evolved as well as our relationship with the customer do.
There are a lot of tools in the marketing space (martech) that will help us with the automation of all these processes, customization of the communication, information or profile gathering. Sent an automatic email, a newsletter or a birthday (with a personalized offer) will be different touch point in this big customer journey. This will include all these touch point in a structure way, in a omni-channel approach. Target the customer or react to the customer interaction, in the correct channel will be part of this strategy. Of course, we should prepare different content to share, that should be adjusted to the channel to be use. Customers will connect with us in any moment, using the more convenient channel on their side, and we have to be prepare to react accordingly in the best, quick and seamless way. This is, from my point of be the best example to have a real omni-channel strategy/approach
There is important mindset change we have to do. This is not about campaigns, is about customer journeys, but required 2 big changes:
1. Have a deeper knowledge of our customers
2. Think in the short, medium and long term at the same time.
Built a customer relationship is not easy, but this approach will get us the results we are looking for. Customers are not looking for products only, they want to trust on brand. Because of this it is important to have a holistic approach, integrating the brand, our value proposition and the customer relationship. Providing offers, and content at the same time, in an organized and logical way will provide more sales, customers will feel we understand them better and we are offering exactly what they need.