Andre Chandra, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in San Francisco, is the founder and CEO of Propelo Media, an omni-channel direct marketing company that helps clients with lead generation, customer retention and brand building. We asked Andre how he and his team create standout marketing experiences. Here's what he shared.
Most discussions about customer experience deal with things that happen after the purchasing decision is made, but the actual experience starts long before that prospect comes to your website or starts using your product. The customer experience begins the very first time they engage with your marketing. That's when the first brand impression is made, and the foundation of the customer relationship is set.
Here are three details that determine whether your marketing lays the foundation for a great customer experience or a frustrating one.
1. Identify who wants your marketing
How often are you targeted by marketing that you have no interest in? That's not a good marketing experience. In fact, it's annoying.
Here's a simple truth every marketer should internalize: If your marketing annoys the people you want as customers, it's not a good customer experience, and that doesn't reflect well on your brand. Annoying potential customers is the first step to ruining future customer relationships.
The first secret to a great marketing experience is knowing who wants to see it. It's not a simple task, but it's essential. You must read your customers, identify data points they share, and use that profile to reach new target audiences who will be interested in your marketing.
One way to do this is through look-alike modeling, which uses existing customer profiles to identify similar people in prospect lists or online audiences. Another way is to target online audiences using factors your customers have in common. On social media, for example, you can target people by interests, likes and follows. With search ads, you can target based on the search terms you buy. Online display advertising can target people who have browsing profiles similar to those who come to your and your competitors' websites.
Identifying what your target customer wants and expanding to reach target audiences who also want that is one of the most critical aspects of successful omni-channel marketing. Identify the need, then identify the audience who needs it, and expand your marketing to bring them into your orbit and lead pipeline.
That's how you create marketing that serves customers' needs and doesn't waste anyone's time. It's the real foundation for great customer experiences.
2. Do you know when they want it?
The best omni-channel brands recognize cycles in their market and use them to their advantage.
Every brand works in cycles. There are important milestones in individual customer lifecycles, such as identifying when they're ready to buy or rebuy. There are also broader environmental cycles: holidays, seasons of the year, budget cycles and fiscal year-ends.
The thing to remember about cycles--and timing in general--is that it's an easy way to create a positive experience. Perhaps you can make a special offer to those customers, upsell them, or even just thank them for being loyal customers. Recognizing birthdays and other important dates is powerful, too. Who doesn't like to get a great holiday offer?
Customer journey maps are a good way to understand what customers are doing at each step of their lifecycle. They empower you to help customers and prospects have better experiences with your brand and to identify the best times to interact with them.
3. Do you know where to talk about it?
Good omni-channel marketing doesn't just focus on where leads may be found; it focuses on where leads have been found and where they engage and convert. By moving your marketing to channels prospects want to engage in, you start creating the kind of customer journey they want.
For decades, brands have tried to put ads in front of people wherever they are and whenever they can. The result is a world where prospects mostly tune them out.
But people don't tune out marketing everywhere. The key to good marketing experiences, especially with prospects and leads, is to be there when it's helpful and not be there when it's annoying.
This is where TV advertising goes wrong. Commercials are noise getting in the way of what customers want to do: watch TV. That's a good way to annoy prospects, but it's not a good marketing experience. Many online ads have the same problem, with pop-up ads being perhaps the worst offenders.
There are still times and places when good marketing can create positive customer experiences. Direct mail, for example, is a channel customers check when they want, read at their leisure, and can keep for future reference. Today, the term junk mail is most synonymous with junk email, while actual postal mail is welcome. A well-executed mailpiece can lead to great customer experience.
Even online marketing, for all its interrupting foibles, can create excellent customer experiences if you have a good strategy for putting ads in the right place at the right time.
Search ads are a great example: There's no better time to offer an answer than exactly when someone's searching with its question. The search itself indicates interest in engaging with a brand, and that's when great customer experiences start.
Every customer journey starts with a marketing experience
Remember: Your marketing is not just a way to find customers; it's the beginning of their customer experience. Everything you say and do during the acquisition phase carries over into the customer relationship itself and sets the tone for their entire journey.
If you keep these three factors in mind--what they want, when they want it, and where they talk about it--your marketing will lay the foundation for great customer relationships.