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Victoria Greendyke - 05.07.2019

Rethink Customer Relationships for Greater Return on Marketing Investment

Know your customer. It’s been a common marketer refrain for decades. But now the right strategy for building customer relationships means upending decades of conventional wisdom to focus on selling your brand, services and products. To understand buying today, marketers must comprehend the kinds of interactions web-savvy customers and flip the script for marketing campaigns and targeted digital channels.

Flipping the script to make our marketing message about the customer instead of the brand is the main takeaway from the keynote address by Gartner’s Brent Adamson, Distinguished VP and “chief story teller” for Gartner’s sales and marketing practices, at Gartner Marketing Symposium | Xpo 2019. According to Adamson, the simple but powerful shift in the way and the why in which marketers seek to engage customers can be the difference between success and failure as enterprises seek returns from their marketing investments.

The core question is this: Which marketing efforts produce the highest commercial incremental value?  The answers lie in the results of four separate Gartner surveys focused on Personalization, Content, Customer Experience.


Which personalized communications are most likely to drive impact?

Consumers perceive the intent of brand personalization efforts through two lenses: “prove you know me” vs. “help me.” Brands that provide “help me” content get back a 16% increase in commercial benefit. On the flip side, marketers who provide “prove you know me” content receive a commercial benefit of just 4%. However, by combining these personalization approaches it drives even greater engagement. This is called “tailored help”—help me do something by proving that you know me. One example of a tailored help website is Huggies.com. The website changes to meet the user’s needs based on the data entered about his or her child.


What kind of marketing content accelerates the purchase of a complex solution?

B2B customers are looking for easy-to-find information that helps users make an informed decision. This is easy but the trick is how to cut through the clutter of all the information out there. A great example of a strategic help-oriented content strategy is WebMD.com. The site offers several help-in-action examples like quizzes or buying guides. The key is to ensure customers are on the right path or facilitate customers toward purchase that make their lives easier via helpful tools like a buying guide or engaging quiz. 


What attributes of a marketing campaign matter most to a consumer’s experience?

Brands that see the most positive customer loyalty have a new-found way of selling their products and services. The method isn’t focused on the brand, however. It’s focused on the individual. Strong brands have been shifting the emphasis of their marketing campaigns from information about the product or service to reflecting an understanding about the person’s needs or wants. Some brands take that a step further and focus on messaging around what makes the person feel like they made the right brand choice after the purchase is made.

This type of emotion-led marketing sparks consumers’ emotional engagement with a product or brand. The feeling of a good brand decision is worth sharing (by social or word of mouth) and thus builds brand loyalty. Marketers need to help customers think differently about themselves rather than how they think about the company.

 For example, high-end clothing leaser Rent the Runway builds loyalty by notifying customers at the end of the year about their personal style and how much money they saved. This type of messaging is intended to reinforce the emotional feeling the user has when they reflect on the purchase they made. And in this case, enhancing personal style and saving money classifies as a win.


What corporate brand positioning yields the greatest connection with the brand?

As explained in point 3 above, brands that win in this world are the ones that change the way customers think about themselves. As much as 54% of consumers like when a brand represents their personal values, whereas 18% of consumers like authentic, shared values with brands. Therefore, brands should strive to give an option for consumers to partner with your brand to further invest in their personal values. An example of this is State Farm, whose “You Get What You Give” initiative makes it easy to give back to your community. This community provides a platform for a State Farm consumer to give back through the platform but also to non-profits and organizations they select from the State Farm partnership lists.

In Summary: Be a Valued Lifeline for Your Customers

So how do marketers get the highest commercial benefit from engaging with their customers? By offering tailored help, enabling personalized buyer journeys, providing self-affirmation and offering personal benefits.

It’s all about helping your customer first. In a world of rising economic inequality, consumers are anxious about making purchases. Up to 44% of consumers say they worry that they’ve missed a better option every time they make a purchase. Today, the values consumers hold most dearly are safety, balance, security and serenity. These roll up into a bundled term of “secure comfort” in Gartner’s consumer surveys. Consumers are saying they need help and are rewarding marketers who provide it.

Those companies who send a happy birthday email with a coupon are missing out on significant opportunities to produce better commercial outcomes and provide grateful consumers with the material help they are looking for.

If your enterprise is ready to reap the benefits of greater and more fulfilling engagement with your customers, we can help you get where you’re trying to go. Get in touch for details.