Big Data, CMO, Customer Experience, Customer Journey

Boost 2014 Performance with These Q2 Resolutions for B2B And B2C Marketers

Every January, there’s plenty of buzz about New Year’s resolutions. But the truth is, you can set new goals any time of the year, and I’ve even found that short-term quarterly resolutions can be much more effective than long-term annual ones. This is because you significantly increase your chances of success if you split big (read: intimidating) resolutions into smaller, more manageable chunks, and you increase the opportunity to course-correct as things change (as they inevitably do)

To help get you started, here are six marketing resolutions on which I feel you and your team can start working–and likely achieve –in Q2.

Rethink the customer journey. Buying behaviors have changed dramatically over the past decade, and it’s clear you’re really not selling business-to-business; you’re selling business-to-individual buyer. Use Q2 to start honing in on relationships with your customers, influencers and prospects. Make it a priority to create customer experiences that are ongoing, consistent, meaningful and mutually rewarding.

Focus on big small data. There’s no doubt about it: data is your most valuable asset . . . and you must use it to develop and nurture the business-to-buyer relationships described above. But don’t get overwhelmed by how vast your data can be. Instead, concentrate on the data that’s most relevant. Make sure your data sources – sales, marketing, accounting, press/analyst relations, executives – are consistently capturing information in the same format; it’s much easier to work on clean data up-front, than to stop and undertake a huge data cleanup effort down the road.  Start small and expand as you gain experience and produce results.

Worry less about channels, more about customers. Stop feeling flabbergasted by all of the available channels, platforms, devices . . .  Keep this top-of-mind: you don’t need to be in all places at once. You simply need to be where your customers are. Find them. Connect. Engage. Listen. (And then repeat that sequence over and over again.)

Assess your mobile capabilities. Forrester calls it a “mobile mind shift” and says that customers now expect that “any desired information or service is available on any appropriate device, in context, at their moment of need.” If you haven’t already done so, Q2 is the perfect time to determine customer preferences and evaluate your capabilities. Is your content mobile-friendly, consistent across screens, localized and relevant?

Use data to find an audience that’s fragmented across multiple channels and platforms. Your customers are telling you where they are, how they’re doing, what they like and what they don’t. All of that information is locked up in the data they’re generating. You need to ask the right questions, gather the right data and apply the right analytics to attain the insights you need to create more personalized and compelling customer experiences.

Call the CIO. Data is now the lifeblood of marketing, and that means you need to collaborate with IT –and across the enterprise, as well. Over the next few months, make a special effort to open up communication so you can start developing a comprehensive, shared data strategy. You can’t move forward unless everyone is pulling together.

Who needs New Year’s resolutions and all the fuss of noise-makers, party hats and confetti? (Some estimate that as many as 90% quit on their goals by the end of January, anyway.) Let’s celebrate the beginning of Q2 with a little less fanfare, and a little more determination now that spring is here.

So tell me, what resolutions will you be making in the coming months?

CMO, Customer Experience

Elevating Customer Experience: What Every CMO Needs to Know

The days of building your brand solely through carefully-crafted marketing campaigns are long gone, and in this brave new world, every Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) needs to move cultivating a stellar customer experience to the very top the to-do list.

What that means is that every channel, every touch point and every interaction must work in tandem so that ultimately you communicate one essential message: Our customers are what matters most.

Of course, the entire c-suite plays a role in this synchronicity, but as CMO, it’s your job to take the lead in defining your customer journey. You’re responsible for elevating the brand by strengthening relationship (both internal and external) fostering loyalty and encouraging advocacy. And in order to do all that, you need to fully recognize that consumers – and their expectations – have changed . . . dramatically. For example, today’s consumers are:

  • Empowered. The rise of digital communication and social media as marketing and customer service channels means that consumers have more ways to talk to you . . . but it also means they have more ways to talk about you, too. Word-of-mouth, for better or for worse, used to happen over fences and by the water cooler. Now consumers can share their unvarnished opinions with millions of others with the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. And again, for better or worse, they’re not holding back.
  • Fickle. Your competitors have as many ways to reach out to your customers as you do, and if you fail to value and nurture your customer relationships, your competitors’ experience could trump yours in a heartbeat. That said, social media offers tremendous opportunities to observe how your competitors engage with the market – and you can be there with tailored offers, insights and assistance to pick up wherever and whenever they fall short If your competitors’ customers are looking to jump ship, give them somewhere attractive to land, precisely when they’re ready to make the leap.
  • Expecting relationships, not campaigns. Traditional marketing campaigns push out a singular message, while a great customer experience does so much more. In fact, leading marketers are gaining competitive advantage by leveraging data to build relationships and participate in the natural buying cycles that customers create. I fully expect that in the future, mutually-rewarding customer relationships will vastly outperform campaigns – which is why we’re already seeing more and more marketing organizations shift away from one-way, mass-market campaigns to personalized, continuous engagement.
  • International . . . and local. “Think global. Act local.” That adage was developed outside of the marketing world, but we’ve all heard it – and now CMOs need to embrace it. Being international and local means not only speaking to your customers in their own language, but also connecting with them in ways they find culturally relevant and compelling, and being present in their communities. One size – or message, or product, or channel – will not fit all.
  • Ready to be known. Companies that keep customer information in silos, by business line, department, channel, region and so on, will only frustrate customers who are seeking a cohesive experience. Priority Number One: Treat all customer data with care; customers will not tolerate misuse of their information. But once they’ve opted in, and you follow best practices for data privacy, leverage the data you gather as deliberately as possible. Use it to create responsive, personalized interactions and a truly meaningful customer experience.

I believe that CMOs who take on the customer experience as a strategic priority will see their marketing performance improve over peers who continue to focus solely on pushing out pitches. Today’s customers expect to be engaged in fresh, relevant ways. If they feel as though your brand respects (and meets!) their needs, they’ll be far more likely to pursue long-term relationships with you . . . and then they’ll pass on their glowing recommendations to friends, family and social networks – all of whom are just as eager for great customer experiences.