IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT QUALITY PRODUCTS: BRANDS, WELCOME TO THE EXPECTATION ERA

The first rule of marketing is to provide customers with a good product and an offer they can’t refuse. Let’s stop right there.

That’s yesterday’s news.

Welcome to the Expectation Era, where a product’s price and quality aren’t the main characters in your brand’s story anymore.

All Hail Customer Experience – The New King on the Block.

Thanks to the developments in virtual reality and mobile-first tech, your customers expect contextually relevant, personalized experiences at every corner. More than that, if they don’t get what they want, chances are they are going to wave goodbye to your brand.

As an Assurant study proves, 88% of customers say they expect companies they use to deliver a better experience each time. What’s even more alarming is, 76% of participants in a Salesforce study reported that they have no problem switching companies if their customer experience falls behind their expectations. On the other hand, if marketers pay more attention to customer experience, 86% of consumers say they are ready to pay more to get it.

It goes beyond paying more, though. A recent Epsilon research found that consumers who think personalized experiences are appealing (and that’s 90% of respondents) are as much as ten times more likely to be a brand’s most valuable customer, making more than 15 transactions a year.

Fueled by customers’ continuous demands, you, as a marketer, find yourself entering an intense competition on customer experience, with a big-shot retail distributor, Amazon, at the head of the pack.

[Image source]

From the looks of it, Amazon’s masterminds have done a pretty good job: 69% of consumers expect other brand experiences to be similar to that of Amazon’s.

How can marketers satisfy consumers’ never-ending hunger for top-notch brand experiences?

It Starts with Putting Data at the Center of Your Marketing Efforts.

You’ll probably say that most companies do so nowadays, but the above Salesforce study reveals that 51% of customers say most companies fall short of their expectations for great experiences. And since data is the key ingredient in the recipe for great customer experience, that means that many companies fall short when gathering data.

What kind of data are we talking about here? Sure, personal info like emails, names, and so on can be a huge help, but it’s best not to try and squeeze every bit of information out of your customers at every step of their journey as they may become overwhelmed and even abandon your brand altogether.

The cruel reality is that, on the one hand, every customer wants personalized experiences and even expects you to leverage situational, behavioral, and historical data to form the foundation of their relationship with your brand and guide them towards the best choice on their journey. On the other hand, users are quite hesitant to share personal data – the backbone of personalization.

What we’ve got is 74% of consumers wanting to be treated as individuals rather than members of audience segments. At the same time, 75% of consumers express concerns regarding a company’s ability to collect data.

With such a catch 22, what can marketers do?

It very well may be that privacy concerns among users arise because marketers approach data collection the wrong way. Instead of asking: “Can I have your personal data and store it so I can later send you a newsletter and other marketing collateral?”, maybe brands should form the question this way: “Can I have your personal data so that I can deliver a more personalized experience for you and make sure you make the best choice down the road?” After all, studies revealed that 57% of consumers are ok with sharing their personal info in exchange for personalized offers and discounts; 52% would do it to get product recommendations, and 53% to enjoy personalized shopping experiences.

To enrich relationships with users more, try making the most out of user browsing behavior in a non-invasive way as well and react accordingly. Neil Patel gives a great example of customer experience personalization based on user preferences tracking – and that’s Caribou Coffee.

When you shop for coffee online, “it remembers your preferences and displays targeted flavors and varieties according to your search.”

caribou coffee user experience

[Credit: Neil Patel]

And that’s without demanding email addresses, full names, and so on every step of the way.

Websites aren’t the only ones that can reap the benefits of such an undemanding data collection method – it’s absolutely valid for apps too. Take a look at Delectable – an app for wine lovers that lets you take pictures, categorize, and save the wines you liked. It then recommends you similar wines taking your tastes and ratings into account.

wineapp

[Credit: Neil Patel]

According to Neil Patel, “it also incorporates feedback and reviews from the wine community to help further socially solidify your smart choice – integrating a three-pronged strategy of social, share and review into a single app.”

Leveraging data to the fullest (user preferences, interests, feedback, images taken, click patterns, etc.), involves relying on a strong technological infrastructure like user journey mapping abilities, user intent analysis capabilities, and a solid CRM system. Once you’ve got your tech infrastructure set up, it’s time to start asking data-related questions like ‘How is my customers’ overall user experience?’; ‘What are my customers focusing on when they visit my website?’; ‘What’s the most clicked on element/visited page on my website?’; ‘How what my customers are doing now is related to their previous preferences?’; ‘What predictions can I make based on recent user actions?’, and so on.

Here’s also a quick illustration that can help you make your marketing data-driven. If you tick all the three steps below, you’re headed in the right direction:

How to make your marketing data-driven

Tap Into Customer Care

After all, it’s packed with customer data.

Gartner survey shares with us that focusing on customer feedback collection and analysis is one of the first strategies companies implement when they want to launch customer experience projects. This is a great way to start meeting your customers’ expectations, especially given the fact that people seem pretty vocal about what they experience: 13% of customers will share their dissatisfaction, and a staggering 72% of them will share a positive experience with at least 6 more people.

Go Beyond Meeting User Expectations

As people shift from decisions based on mundane, basic needs to experiences based on memories and emotions, it’s essential for marketers to not just offer better choices, “flavorful” experiences and one-on-one attention, but to dig deeper and understand the triggers behind those choices and experiences. By doing that, marketers show consumers that they really care and that they welcome the kind of “invisible, psychological interface” that runs in the background of people’s lives.

By focusing on emotions and memories, marketers can do more than just embrace customer-centric behavior; they can predict and shape user expectations too.

And understanding this is crucial because if marketers are only set on simply fulfilling user needs and demands, their brand can quickly become irrelevant. When you leverage emotions and memories to anticipate what people need before they even know it, you shape expectations and experiences. And when you do that you become a memorable game-changer in people’s minds, which is great news for your business.

Here’s an example of what we do at Webpals Group:

There’s a user, let’s call her Jamie. She needs a credit card that fits her financial situation. She searches for a Balance Transfer credit card on the web and lands on one of our exclusively operated websites, Greedyrates.ca, which compares credit cards from top financial institutions.

Personalized content flow Webpals Group

She uses our credit card selector tool on the site to find a card she likes and applies for it. Thanks to the tool, the customer can get an answer that fits their intent, and we can predict the next product that user might be interested in.

User leveraging Greedyrates credit card selector tool

The next time Jamie visits the site, she’ll see more loans-related content since, according to our data, there’s an inverse relationship between the demand for Balance Transfer credit cards and users’ ability to cover their negative balance.

Personalized Content flow Webpals last stage

Final Thoughts

In the Expectation Age, turning customers into brand advocates isn’t just a wish; it’s key to survival. Brand loyalty and profitability depend on making customers feel like you understand them — and that you’ll always deliver the exact experiences they’ve unapologetically come to expect.

Are you looking to drive highly valuable customers to your online business or mobile app? We leverage our data from over 2,000 exclusively owned and operated websites and cross-channel analysis to do just that. Contact us today for more details!