Don’t Get Left Behind: 3 Ways to Join the Customer Experience Revolution
July 26, 2017
Forget the old adage “if you build it, they will come” and try this: “If you listen to what they want and build an experience tailored to meet their individual needs, they will come (and stay!)” May not roll off the tongue quite as nicely, but hey, the truth doesn’t always sound pretty!
And the truth is: customer expectations have changed. Today’s savvy buyer expects more personalized communication across more channels. That’s why 65% of business buyers surveyed in Salesforce’s Fourth Annual State of Marketing Report said they’d switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalize communications to their company.
The pressure is on! According to research by Heinz Marketing, 71.3% of marketing organizations are more accountable for revenue goals than ever before. With leads and pipeline on the line, how can you evolve to meet the shifting needs of buyers?
These “aha moments” uncovered in Salesforce’s report provide some answers to that very question.
1. Create a consistent customer experience across multiple channels
Your customers expect you to meet them where they live. Channels like video advertising and SMS/text messaging make it easy, so it makes sense they’ve experienced some impressive growth over the past two years (204% and 197%, respectively). And the number of new channels emerging in the B2B marketing space only continues to grow. According to Salesforce:
34% of budgets are being spent on channels marketing leaders didn’t even know existed a few years ago.
And they expect that number to rise to 40% by 2019.
But here’s the kicker: your customers not only expect you to be present on several channels, they also expect a unified and consistent brand experience as they switch between them. So why are over half of marketers still adopting the ‘ol “spray and pray” mindset of the marketing stone age?
To find success in the customer experience revolution, ensure your prospects feel recognized across each interaction, regardless of the channel that interaction happens on. If you’re not already convinced, consider the highest performing B2B marketers are 12.8 times more likely to focus on channel coordination than underperformers.
Building cohesive omnichannel experiences isn’t only good for customers, it’s also good for your bottom line. 91% of high performing marketing leaders agree connected customer journeys across many touch points have a positive effect on customer loyalty. And 98% say they have the same impact on revenue—cha-ching!
It appears access to customer data is one roadblock to success in this area. Only 23% of marketers are currently satisfied with their ability to create a more relevant experience using customer data. Clearly, there’s still a lot of work to be done. A great place to start is making sure your marketing technology stack is working for you and not against you.
2. Beef up your martech stack to create 1-to-1 customer experiences
In the survey, Salesforce defines 1-to-1 marketing as:
“Marketing strategies emphasizing personalized interactions with customers to foster greater loyalty and better return on marketing investment.”
Lucky for us marketers, we have more sophisticated tools than ever before to help move past vanity metrics, like clicks and form fills, and focus on deeper analytics and customer insights.
In the customer experience era of B2B marketing, data is king. And top organizations have already caught on—the best-in-class are 93% more likely to use customer data to personalize content or communications.
Sophisticated technology stacks that include tools like artificial intelligence (AI), marketing automation platforms (MAP) and social listening tools have taken things to the next level. For example, harnessing the data in a marketing automation platform (MAP) can help with better lead qualification, or leveraging social listening can identify moments of customer happiness (or frustration) in real time. And, turns out, size does matter. The more successful the team, the larger the tech stack—top performers use an average of 15 tools versus only 8 used by underperforming teams.
But it’s not the technology itself that’s an indicator for success, it’s also the ability for them to work together. An integrated martech stack is the first step toward a unified view of the customer experience.
According to Salesforce, the most important tools used by high performers are data management platforms (DMPs), customer relationship management systems, and marketing analytics/measurement tools. But, marketers foresee the biggest area for growth in martech to be AI.
3. Get on board the AI train: Leverage machine learning to create one to one customer experiences
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) both take data collected from a variety of sources and use it to make more informed decisions. For example, if and when a lead is ready to be sent to sales. The more data that it collects, the more accurate the decision.
AI is currently used by only 51% of marketing leaders, making it the least popular in the survey. But don’t make the mistake of overlooking it! The AI train is moving full steam ahead. Marketing leaders expect AI will have higher growth over the next two years than any other marketing technology—53% year over year. And among those already riding the AI train, 57% say it’s not just helpful, but essential to creating one-to-one customer experiences.
With modern martech stacks providing a seemingly endless supply of customer data, AI (and more specifically ML) has the potential to create hyper-personalized buyer journeys. Personalized experiences can look anything like a dynamic landing page, hyper-targeted product recommendations, lookalike audience modelling and more.
AI can have a powerful impact inside an organization as well. AI tools help marketers improve operations by diving deeper into campaign analytics and predictive lead scoring.
64% of marketers already using AI say it’s greatly or substantially increased their marketing efficiency.
Consumer priorities are shifting. So, marketers need to reevaluate their strategies and adjust to meet them. Put time and energy into a multichannel strategy, integrated martech stack, and AI to secure your spot on the forefront of the customer experience revolution.