Successful marketers embraced a customer-centric approach long before the pandemic. But changes over the last two years have impacted what customers expect from experiences, and marketers need to use every technology they can in order not to leave their customers behind.
“The way we engage has changed significantly over the past few years,” said Brian Rowley, VP of marketing for Panasonic System Solutions Company of North America, who spoke at The MarTech Conference last spring. “Our digital world has given customers this opportunity to be more in control and drive what our engagement process looks like.”
He added, “It’s forced us as brands to actually listen more carefully to the wants and needs of those customers and meet them where they are.”
Here are three important ways that brands need to leverage technology to make sure the customer remains the top priority.
Using technology to listen and understand
Since customers are in more control over the ways that they engage with brands, the marketers at those brands have to develop their listening skills.
“It’s really important for brands to remain agile and measure and monitor the shifts that they see with their audiences in terms of where they are and how they’re spending their time,” said Rowley.
It comes down to relevance. Brands don’t want to waste their customers’ time, or waste their own company’s resources with messaging that falls flat.
To keep up with changing sentiments, marketers should be using social listening tools and also deploying sentiment analysis on the signals that come in through social, as well as through other channels where customers are speaking their minds.
“Consumers are very clear in stating that they’ll stop engaging with you unless you listen to them,” said Rowley. “And not only will they stop listening, they’ll actually call you out.”
And not only should brands be listening, but they should also demonstrate to customers that they’ve taken the feedback to heart.
“Our customers provide us with feedback and then we go back and ask for it again without making any changes, and that’s an important piece for us to make sure that we don’t do,” Rowley said.
And in order to meet brand goals, marketers need to determine which channels are most important to customers and then make sure that the brand is dominating the share of voice on those key channels.
Designing authentic customer-centric experiences
The best way for brands to show that they understand what customers are telling them is through content and other experiences. These experiences have to be fine tuned to the audience using customer data and personalization.
In the case of Panasonic, they market to multiple audiences, and best practices for one audience don’t necessarily translate to others, according to Rowley.
“The needs are so different from each of those customers that we have to rely on technology to help us tailor the experience and deliver the message that’s the most authentic to that group, as well as the most relevant to what they’re looking for,” Rowley explained.
Since customers have more control than ever over the channels they use, they can easily brush aside a marketer who isn’t sending a relevant message.
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Measuring the impact of experiences and adjusting
“You have to measure what’s working and what’s not, and you actually have to be willing to tweak those areas that need improvement,” said Rowley.
One of the most significant advances in technology is the ability for marketers to measure the impact of experiences in real time. To take full advantage, marketers should adopt a test-and-learn strategy.
“The data allows us to be agile,” Rowley said. “And as we start to look at testing and learning, we can then begin to shift the experience around the customer.”
He added, “It’s not just up to marketing to do that. It’s important to make sure that all of our teams…adjust their message as well, including sales teams and partners. It really boils down to everybody being responsible for taking and embodying this approach.”
Digital experience technology brings everybody onboard so they can focus their content and messaging strategies on the most important piece in the puzzle, the end user who is your customer.
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