Marketing Campaigns Are Dead. Long Live Customer Conversations!

Ah, the marketing campaign. That wonderful backbone of institutionalised marketing. Do I sound like I’m getting a little nostalgic?  Well yes, I probably am, because – and I do need to break it to you – the marketing campaign is dying. It is being superseded by conversation based on the real-time interaction your customer has with your brand as managed by the customer. The customer-managed journey. You listen to what your customer is saying then you give them what they want and use that insight to guide your future interactions.

Marketers have spent years pushing – launches, promotions, research, news and the like – to the one, two or (if lucky) three per cent of customers who happened to be interested at the time marketing decided they should hear what the company wanted them to hear. It wasn’t marketing naivety that allowed this to happen but a divide between customers doing what comes naturally and taking their own journey based on their own needs, and the marketer’s patchy and incomplete view of that journey from which a lot of assumptions were (and are still) made.

The result? Irrelevance. The customer’s conversations with CSRs, visits to the website, Facebook pages, branches, mobile apps etc etc are not presented to marketing as a unified view. Without that insight marketing fills the customer’s inbox with irrelevance, and the apps, website, social media and other touch points deliver irrelevance, until ultimately the customer’s whole view of the brand becomes one of cluttered irrelevance. That’s a lot of time, money and effort tied up in irrelevance.

Getting Engaged

Not many relationships go the distance without either party listening to the other. The customer-managed journey is all about listening and engagement. The customer interacts with the brand, the brand listens and based on that intelligence adds value. When the customer re-engages with the brand he or she finds relevance and is now pleased and willing to listen. That type of engagement can lead to a long and happy marriage.

Marketing technology now has an ear to the ground as the customer makes his or her journey from website to mobile app to call centre or other business touch points, on any of the multiple journeys the customer may take. Marketers hear what the customer says, sees what the customer is looking at and understands their purpose. Marry that to existing customer records, take their current and historical journey needs into account and you have a pretty sophisticated understanding of an individual and how to help them based on their needs and not some back office guess work.

You no longer need to have a situation where the business can’t communicate with the customer using one voice. When the customer calls the call centre, the operator can say, ‘We saw you looking at our website yesterday for xyz, perhaps you’d like this xyz related thing?’ and not have the operator launch into a special offer about something completely unrelated (yes, irrelevant). The same deal when customers receive irrelevant content about offers or services when you attempt to engage with them.

The listening post

The process of listening and understanding the customer-managed journey builds over time to give you a very rich layer of actionable insight at both an individual and a macro level. Like any dialogue you need to listen and then once you reflect on all aspects of the conversation past and present you can respond appropriately, that’s the take action bit. In system terms brands need to pull both together in real-time effortlessly everywhere they talk to customers every second of the day.

A lot of research has been done over the last 5 years (including our own) which clearly demonstrates the value and importance of managing the end-to-end customer experience, driving increased revenue, higher levels of brand advocacy and customer satisfaction, and reduced customer churn. It’s all about making customers happy!

The age of the marketing monologue is transitioning into the age of actionable insight. Let the conversation begin.