Recently, the Harvard Business Review published “Know What Your Customers Want Before They Do,” an article in which the three authors compared the traditional retail shopping experience (reliance on assistance from sales people) vs. today’s experience (influx of information to the consumer who’s bombarded with information, media, messages, reviews, etc.). The authors discuss how the retail experience is moving online and the importance of the consumer point of need:
“Advances in information technology, data gathering, and analytics are making it possible to deliver something like – or perhaps even better than – the proprietor’s advice. Using increasingly granular data, from detailed demographics and psychographics to consumers’ clickstreams on the web, businesses are starting to create highly customized offers that steer consumers to the ‘right’ merchandise or services – at the right moment, at the right price, and in the right channel.”
Harvard Business Review refers to this opportunity as the “NBO” or “Next Best Offer.” According to the article, the four-pronged approach to crafting a brand NBO includes:
- Defining objectives
- Gathering data
- Analyzing and executing
- Learning and evolving
While these efforts don’t strike me as rocket science, I do think it’s important to recognize the many ways to leverage data and how this can help better reach and communicate with customers, offering something of value to them as opposed to a general message.
This line of thinking reminds me of the Google “ZMOT” or “Zero Moment of Truth,” which is detailed in the e-book “ZMOT” by Jim Lecinski. ZMOT refers to the decision-making process consumers experience (largely influenced by digital) before making a purchase. This includes social/peer interactions, research published, professional or peer reviews, endorsements, or comparison shopping.
Through various digital platforms, fingertip knowledge and relevancy have become two of the most powerful tools for consumers. This empowerment comes in a variety of forms – ranging from the public disclosure of previously “hidden” fees to the confidence gained by reading thousands of reviews on any given product. Consumers are becoming savvier, and this coupled with the economic downturn makes it more difficult than ever to capture their attention for the NBO at the ZMOT.
When it comes to digital marketing and ways to initially integrate more relevant messaging into your current efforts, below are some things to get you started:
- Experience matters. Provide an optimal user experience for customers from your website to your mobile platform to in-store experiences. Data is available to know which competitors your brand is most frequently passed over for when it comes to purchase decisions and what other brands your customers have a high affinity for. Understand these experiences, and where yours is lacking. Improve this to tailor your offering and message to create an easy platform for customers to find content and information, compare prices, read reviews and testimonials, etc.
- Make sense out of big data. Use the current customer data you have in all CRM messaging when reaching your customers. This includes recognizing when a subscriber is about to reach the end of her commitment, customers who consistently redeem coupons coming from your Facebook page, the lifetime value of any specific customer, and how you can more dynamically and intimately let her know you value the relationship she has with your brand.
- Relevancy is king. Invest in content consumers would find value in, and create experiences with this through your website, marketing materials, online advertising, social platforms, and blogs. All too often, content exists but is hidden, disorganized, or outdated. It is important with the overwhelmingly increasing ways to continue to find information and communicate with one another. At this point in time, the AT&T TV commercials showcasing the lightening speed of a new device showing that information is said to be “so 24-seconds ago” affirms how fast and constantly connected consumers are. It’s important to keep up that connection with your consumers. Additionally, use data to determine what they would value, through what platform, and at what moment in time. And please remember to optimize so they can find it!
- Customize your customers. Customize messaging based on consumers’ behaviors. The more you know about your customers, the easier it is to do. Start with retageting by using dynamic messaging and establishing key triggers. If someone puts more than $200 in her shopping basket, but abandons, offer her a 10 percent discount (or other incentive) and checkout featuring something she may be prone to purchase based on what is in her basket. If someone looks at the pet-friendly policy for your hotel in San Francisco, show her an ad with imagery from the San Francisco property; include pet-friendly messaging; and again, offer an incentive to book. This form of advertising frequently gets labeled with the creepy factor, but it is all done through consumer behaviors online and is not personally identifiable.
Data can be overwhelming when you start to aggregate it and decide to start leveraging it better for marketing communications. Data is available from CRM segmentation, website analytics, social platforms, search tools, advertising analytics, competitive data, purchase behavior data, psychographic data, geographic, and the list goes on. The key is to invest in your customers as much as they are investing in you to provide them an experience beyond the transaction.