The new buyer journey revolution continues to evolve. It is happening without you and your participation. It will not be televised. However, it still happens in the digital world. Including social media.
The B2B decision maker’s native buying behavior is changing. Customers rely less on the companies from whom they are going to make a purchase when framing their requirements and narrowing down the choices. They are changing their native behavior with how they are making their purchases.
The customer experience is your next competitive battleground. Are you prepared to win it with social media?
You can claim victory by way of this competitive differentiation war by offering the lowest prices or providing a superior, surprising and spectacular customer experience! You may win the price battle, but that is only a short-term solution. However, you will always win the customer experience war. Providing a spectacular experience is more sustainable!
What Is Customer Experience And Why Is It So Important?
Customer experience is your customer’s perception of his or her relationship with your brand. These perceptions result from the collection of their interactions with your brand’s touchpoints during the customer lifecycle.
The rules change daily. Customer expectations of experience are set and improved by the best in class in an industry – Google, IKEA, Subway, and many others. So, with every new improvement or introduction of a new way of doing things, your customer raises the bar and increases your pressure to deliver. Think Amazon’s user experience setting expectations for a B2B software company, or that Apple sets expectations for a retailer, and you start to connect the dots.
5 Key Customer Experience Facts
80% of U.S. consumers would pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience. Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs
68% of businesses plan to increase their spending on customer experience. (Source: Call Center Executive Priorities)
44% of consumers consider customer loyalty to be a relic of the past (Source: Avaya and BT Research)
Shoppers use an average of 10.4 sources of information to make a purchase decision (Source: Google)
Referred customers deliver 16% higher lifetime value (Source: Wharton School of Business)
Connect The Dots In The Customer Journey Touch Points
Each customer journey includes touchpoints – dots you need to connect to draw a holistic experience. It would help if you increased your relationship currency value at every section of the sales funnel – using social media, content marketing, and traditional interactions to connect these dots. The question is, do you have the resources and know-how to connect the dots to draw a winning solution or a scary picture?
The Customer’s Customer Requires 10 Key Experiences
Customer experience manifests in social selling, content marketing, social media, and every touchpoint on the customer journey. Your customers don’t want it. They require it. Here are ten experiences your customers demand in today’s economy.
1. Keep the customer experience simple and easy
Forest Gump couldn’t have said it any better – “Simple is as simple does.” Brands providing an integrated experience across channels make it simpler and easier for customers to engage. Whether it’s the one-off Google search experience or ordering a sandwich at Subway – two of the most highly ranked ’simple’ brands – a simple and easy experience differentiates your business from the competition. Making it easy to find your brand and consume your content is the key to winning their heart!
Google delivers a simple and successful customer experience for users searching for results!
2. Educate and communicate with your customers with social media
Your customers do not want to be sold your stuff. They want to be educated on how your staff can help them – then they will buy! The Home Depot builds a great customer experience by giving away their expertise during their Do-It-Yourself, Do-It-Herself, and Kids Workshops! Stitch-Fix, the woman’s subscription clothes service, presents possibilities by providing custom combinations printed on in-box instructions. Customers are self-educating, so integrate education and relevant content into their experience. 82% of U.S. digital buyers prefer to research products from multichannel retailers on the internet (Source: March 2014 study by UPS, ComScore, and the E-tailing Group). If you don’t educate your customers, then your competition will! Take the teaching approach with your customers instead of selling to them, and they will make you a trusted advisor – with sales becoming an exponential by-product!
3. Quickly resolve the bumps in the road using your social channels
You can’t make all of your customers happy all of the time. However, you can resolve most of their bumps in the road – the wrong-sized Boden pants, the missing button on your Stitch-Fix jacket, or even the Amazon Prime order that missed your deadline. Your customers expect resolution – from an under 60-minute response on Twitter to reading a blog post to help self-resolve an issue! Respond to social media outreach and make it easy for customers to easily find the content at 2 AM to resolve their issue, and you will quickly become a part of their ‘family.’
4. Personalize the customer experience
Smart, connected customers expect personalized experiences. From REI’s persona-based content marketing strategy targeting (tongue-in-cheek) narcissists who love biking to Nike ID’s custom footwear, customers require an experience that is all about them! A data and analytics strategy gives brands a single-view into individual customers – enabling a positive customized experience.
5. Make it easy to #humblebrag
Customers love to #humblebrag since it validates their purchase. It’s part of their brand experience – both with you and their community. Brands who strategically integrate a video, pictures and hashtag strategy into the customer experience score the most points – and social referrals!
6. Deliver a safe and secure experience
Customers’ heads are spinning with cyber-security breaches. People will share their details to enable a great experience. Just make sure you explain how you are going to securely handle their identity
7. Surprise and delight your customers
Marketing automation has created this ‘bland-compliant’ messaging. The customer wants a little personality and delight with their relationship with you. You have to work hard to differentiate yourself from the competition. Surprising and delighting can be as simple as Netflix’s season two House Of Cards Tweet chat with the actors to Mastercard’s #PricelessSurprises campaign featuring Justine Timberlake! Brands can combine a little bit of big data and creativity to create a priceless connection with customers
8. Be ‘always-on’ to be in the heart and minds of the customer
FOMO (fear of missing out) is the Millennial’s number one fear. So, you want to be always-on with cross-channel access to your brand – on Instagram and Snapchat – so they never miss out on not missing out. Gartner predicts that by 2017, 50 percent of consumer product investments will target customer experience innovation, so investing in an always-on and brand-to-demand strategy makes sense. Translated to Gen X – it’s staying on top of the newest ‘thing’ to ‘keep up with the Jones’. BirchBox does this well
9. Mobilize your experience
With smartphone adoption reaching 70% in the U.S, reported by Asymco, providing a mobile customer experience is not an option, but a requirement! From mobile banking experiences like TD Bank offers or content updates from the Wall Street Journals app, customers want mobile access to your brand. As the man in the old Verizon commercial says “Can you hear me now?”
10. Create a circle of trust for your customers
88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, reports Bright Local. The fact of the matter is many customers begin their customer journey amongst their circle of trust. This activity means you need to build a trusting relationship with a great brand experience – using social, mobile, analytics, and cloud technology – making it easy for others to communicate their trust. Consumers will continue to build up their trust by using Yelp, Trip Advisor and Amazon Reviews, and their social media networks. How do brands build trust? Listen, respond, and do what you say you will do – just like any good relationship.
Do you have another customer experience you think customers require? If so, then please share below. Or, contact me directly at email@example.com.
As Jimi Hendrix kind of said, “Are you (customer) experienced?” If you aren’t, then you aren’t adding value to your customers, and you will lose the battle and the war with your competition.
NOTE: This blog post was originally published on May 3, 2015, and was lightly updated on January 27, 2021.
As the greatest rock and roll band of our time, The Rolling Stones, say … “Time is on our side”, especially when it comes to creating a winning content and marketing strategy. You can have the greatest blog posts, videos, infographics, slides or resources in the world, however if you do not consider the role of timing you may miss out!
Timing is something you have complete control over; deploying content, responding to an inquiry, and keeping the user experience as simple as possible. Timely response, execution, user experience and content delivery can help you build a strong foundational approach to your business’s content, customer service and business plan execution.
5 Tips To Create A Timely Marketing Strategy
1. Enable Your Content To Be Found Quickly. With 89% of people starting their purchase process using a search engine, you need to structure your content in a way that it is quickly found. SlideShare, blogging, YouTube videos and infographics all have keyword and structure nuances that will help increase their ability to be found more quickly. Help your potential readers save time and effort by using fundamental search strategies so they can easily find and engage with you.
2. Deliver Content On A Regular Basis. Whether it’s the evening news, the morning newspaper, or the Sunday Football games, we all expect content we know and love to be delivered consistently. We like our expectations managed so there is consistency in our lives. Leverage customer expectations by updating your social media channels and blogs. HubSpot notes companies who blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more site traffic. Now THAT is “return on consistency”!
3. Be A Quick and Easy Read To Save Your Reader Time. There is no right length for a blog post or a piece of content. However, a good rule of thumb is a 500-word blog post takes about 2 minutes to read. Two minutes seems to be the attention span of many readers. Also, readers like to skim content and get to the point that is relevant to them. If you need more words to get your point across, then use more words, but take your reader’s time into consideration.
4. Make It Easy For Readers To Share Your Content Quickly. Good content gets shared and reaches a relevant and incremental audience to your present network. ShareThis research indicates most content is shared on a mobile device, with consumers twice as likely clicking and sharing content through a mobile device, than a desktop device. On a mobile device, Pinterest and Twitter are the networks, aside from Facebook, where content gets shared the most. So your content needs to be mobile-optimized for reading and sharing to save time and reach more customers more quickly.
5. Respond To Content Inquiries, Comments And Affirmations In 24 Hours (within an hour if there is a complaint). When customers use Twitter to express a customer service concern, eConsultancy reports that 72% of them expect a response within an hour. And, when they ask a brand a question, 53% of them expect an answer in an hour. So, you can put time on the side of your marketing strategy by quickly building up a reputation for quick social media response!
Get the moves like Jagger and strategically think about the timing of your content, customer response and marketing execution. This approach will help you to create and manage the expectations of your readers. Time is on your side, yes it is …. so use it to your marketing and content advantage, and your customers will come running back … yes they will.
Businesses are flocking to social media today because they understand at some level that customers are there and they need to be there with them. But there’s always been a sticky question about return on investment in social media and whether it drives sales.
How can you walk away from social media for a day and still be a part of the game? Embrace the Ferris Bueller in you and take heed of these ideas!
It’s important for everyone to shut down now and then to re-energize, reorganize and reinvigorate! Here is what you can do to take a day off from social media and still look as if you are tweeting, blogging and ‘Linking’!
5 Ways To Take A Day Off From Social Media
1. Schedule Your Tweets In Advance. The day before you rest from using Twitter schedule your 8-20 tweets using HootSuite. Make sure to:
2. Use An Autoresponder To Message New Twitter Followers. While using an autoresponder is not the best way to manage the beginning of your new one-to-one relationships, they do work in a pinch. A touch is a touch, so make sure to follow these guidelines when creating your auto-response message:
Keep your message short and well under the 140-character limit.
Include a link to a Twitter-only landing page on your blog. No landing page? Then don’t include a link.
Be ready to follow your new followers back the next day, if it makes sense.
Be ready to respond to your DM’s or messages immediately the next day to make sure you are nurturing the new social relationship.
3. Optimize Your Blog Posts With Keywords. A well-optimized (for keywords) blog is your always-on, 24-7 social media workhorse. Optimizing your blog for the best format and keyword selection cannot really be done the night before you take off from social media; however, start optimizing today to make sure people can easily find you for your next day off. Key items to pay attention to are:
Select a keyword and keyword variation for which people are searching.
Include your keyword in the blog’s title, first line of the blog and in at least one of the subhead titles (i.e., h2 tag).
Try to have about a 2% keyword density throughout your blog.
Include you keyword in the blog’s meta description.
Include the keyword in the URL.
4. Schedule Your LinkedIn Update In Advance. HootSuite is the ‘MacGyver’ of social media tools with its ability to schedule, listen and measure! Use HootSuite, or your tool of choice, to schedule your daily 1-2 LinkedIn updates. If you are not updating your LinkedIn profile at least once on a daily basis, then you have some extra preparing to do before you take a day off!
5. Favorite Your Shareable Articles So You Send Them Tomorrow. Feedly and Flipboard are great go-to sources for news that can be turned into curated content. While you will likely not take a break from reading the news (even I have cancelled my paper edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer and depend on Feedly for my news), you can take a break for real-time curating and scheduling content. For instance, use the “Save For Later” feature on Feedly and schedule your curated content tomorrow!
Do you have a tip that you can share that saves you time or lets you take a day off from social media? If so, please do share below! Or, contact me directly at MarketingThink.com or on Twitter @GerryMoran.
Whether you plan to take the day off today, tomorrow or on an upcoming holiday, use this advice to help you re-energize, reorganize and reinvigorate! I am signing off for the day and cracking open a cold IPA. It’s always 5PM somewhere, right?