The Era of Buying Revenue is Dead: Relationships > Transactions


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For several years, the performance marketer changed how brands interacted with customers. Top line revenue got bought from customers. Third-party data also played a key role in the transactional economy. Together performance marketers teamed up with social media companies and bought attention. This attention resulted in clicks, leads, purchases, re-targeting, and voice to social advertisements. The transactional economy thrived.

Consumer behavior got capitalized on by performance marketers. Brands invested in data science capabilities to analyze first-party data. Third-party data got acquired through ad-tech companies like Facebook. Data scientists built look alike and customer segmentation models with the data. These models optimized their transactional clicks while reducing their customer acquisition costs.

Customers became an accounting formula. Invest “x” millions of dollars, grow “y” top line revenue. Performance marketers micro-manage metrics. The transactional economy got built on metrics like SEO, total site traffic, conversion, click-thru-rates and return on advertising spend.

Brands became very promotional in their marketing strategies. Merchants focused on discounting products and merchandise. Customers got trained with these strategies.

The rising costs of goods and services. The impending global inflation. The rise of consumer privacy like GDPR and Apple’s App Tracking Transparency has changed the performance marketer’s effectiveness to buy revenue growth. Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged the “loss of signals” resulting in significant revenue decline in his memo addressing the November 2022 workforce reduction.

The result: brands are reporting top line revenue pressures. Facebook has lost ~$500B in market valuation due to declining advertising revenue. Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) have reached all time highs. Customer churn continues to reach record levels. Brands turn to reducing headcount through layoffs to meet EBIT pressures. Budget cuts impacting customer experience programs and teams.

Customers get left desiring more from their experiences. Customer loyalty is pivoting from a transactional loyalty program to deeper relationships. Customers are demanding personalized experiences. Customers want trusted relationships.

According to Adobe Marketing Series (The Future of Marketing Research Series: U.S. Highlights), “nearly ALL marketers (94 percent) say their companies are good or excellent at delivering personalized experiences. Consumers, however, see room for growth. When asked whether their digital experiences had improved over the last 12 months, only 37 percent say their experiences have gotten better, while 63 percent say they’ve stayed the same or gotten worse.”

Brands are now scrambling.

How do we build trusted relationships with our customers?

How do we meet customer expectations for better experiences?

How can we deliver profit back to the business while maintaining customer loyalty?

How do we pivot our consumer data strategy to be less reliant on third-party data?

5 Keys to building relationships with your customers:

1.) Listen to your customers. Act on their feedback. Customer trust gets built over time by listening to customer feedback and delivering on expectations. Empower action at all levels within your organization.

2.) Build zero-party permissioned customer data acquisition engine. Personalization requires a significant amount of customer data. Although customers expect personalization, they will not sacrifice their privacy for it. Let customers be the source of truth for the data shared with your brand.

3.) Build internal capabilities. Understand your internal customer experience, employee experience and zero-party data capabilities. What capabilities do we have? What do we need? Invest in building those capabilities.

4.) Exercise long-term thinking. The mounting financial performance pressures have brands operating short-term, quarter to quarter. Building new capabilities and employee behaviors, change management and results will take time. Invest in it. The staying power of your brand depends on it.

5.) Employee Relationships are key. Brands must build relationships with their employees to build relationships with their customers. Employees understand what is happening on the frontline. Value their ideas. Take action. Build trust with them.

The transformation from transactional to relational is paramount. The Era of Buying Revenue is dead. Customer relationships are the key to spinning the brand performance flywheel.

Zack Hamilton
Stingray Group, Inc.
Every brand has experience gaps. Zack help brands identify their gaps and execute strategies to close them. As Chief Experience and Strategy Officer, Zack has worked with more than 400 global retail brands. His leadership and expertise has earned him roles on the Forbes and Fast Company Executive Boards.


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