According to an IBM global study, bad customer experience results in $83 billion in lost sales each year. Ellen Valentine, strategic marketing evangelist at Silverpop, an IBM company, believes that marketers should prioritise customer experience because it’s an area in their marketing activities that is likely overlooked but could lead to significant returns.
“CMOs must be the architects of this new paradigm or risk irrelevance,” said Valentine. She added that marketers should take a customer experience point of view because campaigns, as they've traditionally focused on pushing a product or message, were not designed to support today’s customer expectations.
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“Today there’s email, push notifications, social media, digital ads, and good old-fashioned mail," she said. "The whole experience is fragmented. The buyer journey is not linear.”
Valentine cited the Rail Europe Experience Map as an excellent example of customer journey mapping.
“What I think is really cool is that they recognise the window of time in which you can engage with the customer,” said Valentine. “What’s the customer's emotional experience at different stages? Are they angry or frustrated? As a marketer, you need to ask: Are you putting yourself in the customer’s shoes?”
This understanding of the customer journey and experience is only more crucial as mobile becomes a dominant platform. Citing a Silverpop study, Valentine said 55 percent of mobile consumers want to purchase within an hour, while 83 percent want to purchase within a day. However, only 41 per cent of marketers were sending mobile-friendly emails in 2014.
Quoting Ryan Barley, director of Mobile for Staples, Valentine said that eliminating friction is more important that engagement in the mobile and digital age.
In terms of best practises to achieving a better customer experience online, Valentine stated five points:
- Create an ‘email magnet’, or in other words “think of a very attractive way for people to join and engage with your company”
- Web tracking
- Support for creating a single identity or universal profile of customers across platforms
- Implicit profiling and adding intelligence to your digital database by, for example, assigning a different persona profile to each behaviour that happens on your site
- Marry your CMS with your digital database so that you can version your content to a customer depending on who they are.
Regarding advice for creating organisational change in terms of marketing, Valentine said it's important to "get the entire executive team to know what’s possible."
"When there’s a gap in understanding, they [C-Suite] can't think about what they want to do," said Valentine. "You've got to educate up. Sharing relevant case studies, examples and benchmark studies are very good to see how your own marketing stacks up."