Moving forward, my blog posts will focus on the integration of social into the marketing mix. Why? To create a relevant and compelling customer experience that can turn into a competitive advantage.
Some time ago, I noticed the #SoLoMo hashtag and I was intrigued. #SoLoMo is an abbreviation for social, mobile and local marketing. If you would like more of the background, you can read my first post on the topic.
During the past year and a half, I have talked about the growing opportunity that exists in the space where social, mobile and local overlap. Here is where you’ll find an empowered consumer ready to connect and engage with brands who understand their unique and specific needs and desires.
Why Customer Experience Marketing?
Recently I discovered a study from ResearchNow. It concluded that businesses need to be able to seamlessly reach, interact with and, ultimately, transact with their customer when and how she chooses.
The research detailed how accomplishing this objective requires a deep understanding of the customer’s likes, dislikes and expectations. In fact, it confirmed what I have seen in other research; there is a significant gap between what customers expect and what they receive from brands.
This is especially true in online commerce. According to the study, brands continue to blast ads at customers as though they are casual shoppers. The opposite is true; most online customers on are a mission. They know what they are looking for, and brands that get them from point A to point B quickly and efficiently will have an advantage.
How is this different from #SoLoMo?
While both #SoLoMo and Customer Experience Marketing require a customer focused mindset, Customer Experience Marketing is a much broader topic.
The key is the seamless customer experience. Increasingly, consumers are looking for a good experience, it doesn’t matter whether it’s online or offline.
This #SoLoMo evolution to the broader field of Customer Experience Marketing has transpired over several of my latest posts. My recent Lowe’s series highlighted some of the ways smart brands are designing the seamless customer experience across multiple channels to provide maximum utility for customers, allowing them to choose when and how they prefer to engage with the brand.
The evolutionary process is opening opportunities beyond the overlap I mentioned earlier. In a recent post, Neal Schaeffer made a case for employee advocacy utilizing the LinkedIn channel.
To build on Neal’s post, when brands align their marketing across social platforms (like LinkedIn), it allows them to have a deeper understanding of the consumer which helps to create a foundation for the seamless experience customers are looking for.
Responding to a Rapidly Changing Marketing Landscape
With the increased penetration of mobile devices across most demographic segments and the continued development of new technologies like in-store mapping, brands and consumers face an almost bewildering array of options.
Brands now compete in ecosystems providing their customers with new alternative substitutes and experiences on a regular basis. Brands will have to adopt a different mindset in order to uncover the deep understanding necessary to understand their customer’s likes, dislikes and expectations.
The in-store mapping technology I reviewed in my Lowe’s posts wasn’t a viable option until recently. One significant advantage of an “outside in” customer focus is a greater awareness of marketplace changes. This approach can help mitigate the ivory tower syndrome.
A recent post by Seth Godin eloquently describes how change has evolved over time. He suggests that the future of change isn’t about absorbing or tolerating change. Instead, it’s about making change. This is the kind of new mindset I am talking about; it’s driven by curiosity and collaboration.
Brands that embrace the customer-focused mindset actively listen to all stakeholders, they observe and analyze, and then they respond appropriately; they make change.
Responding requires a culture that enhances learning through collaboration while also encouraging listening, questioning and adapting. Some companies, like Zappos, are exploring new organizational structures to allow them to deliver the kind of seamless experience their customers are looking for.
Where do you begin?
A journey map based on your path to purchase experience is a great place to start. The path to purchase should address all phases of the buying experience including post purchase use and support. Many marketing efforts focus on acquisition but many fail to include activation and retention strategies.
The journey map should include all possible touch points. Some obvious examples are the website and physical locations. In addition, look for any other customer-facing contact points like customer service.
Involve associates in this process, especially those interfacing with clients. Make sure all functional groups are represented. Think about the entire ecosystem, and where your product or service fits within this system.
Ask lots of questions about challenges and frustrations for internal and external stakeholders. Then find ways to address these challenges.
Make sure customers and associates are able to access appropriate information at each of these touch points, especially using mobile technology. Lowe’s purchased 40,000 iPhones for their employees to allow them access to timely information.
In future posts, I’ll be writing about the Customer Experience Marketing framework. There will examples of best practices, ideas on how to integrate social into the framework, and the tools and tips that can enhance and support this strategy.
If you have questions or suggestions, I would love to hear them in the comments below. I am excited about exploring this new topic with you. What do you think?
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