Your CEO has finally caught the customer experience fever and embraced customer experience as the new competitive battleground. As a result, she is empowering all functions to propose 2019 budgets that induce the organizational transformation from product-centric to customer-centric. As CMO you are naturally elated, but where do you start? How do you operationalize the customer experience? There will be changes required in people, process, content, technology/data and metrics/KPIs. In this post we will focus on just one of these: your data and MarTech stack.
Assuming you have bold plans for how you are going to improve and enrich the customer experience as they interact with marketing, the challenge quickly becomes, “Do we have a marketing technology stack capable of supporting the types of customer engagement we want to drive?” What new platforms and tools will you need to integrate? What systems will you replace? What new data integrations will be required? Below are three questions you can discuss with your Marketing Operations (MO) team to elucidate the technology requirements for improving the customer experience.
Question 1. How Do You Measure Customer Engagement With Marketing Content?
While the question seems simple enough, getting insightful answers is not. Marketers generally accept the premise that increasing engagement of customers with our content means they value it, that the experience is good, and that this will influence customers to buy more. From the customer’s perspective, having a good experience with my content means:
- It was easy to find.
- It was in a format I prefer.
- It was easy to digest.
- It provided the insights and answers I was seeking.
- It left me wanting more and pointed me in the right direction.
The possible answers to question 1 are:
- We just look at web analytics and see which pages and content get the most traffic.
- We use landing pages for all assets and record visits against the customer profile in our Marketing Automation Platform (MAP).
- We’ve integrated video and audio streaming services into our MAP and update customer profiles based on how much of the asset they consumed (think Sprout, YouTube, Wistia).
- We have embedded links in our content that drive customers to the next relevant piece and we measure the usage of these links (think Pathfactory).
- We use a content marketing platform to increase engagement and encourage “bingeing” of content (think Uberflip).
- We bring our content to the social platforms and blog, but drive the consumption back to the platforms where we can record engagement (and track where they came from using UTM parameters)
- All of the above
Question 2. Is Your Marketing Technology Stack Set Up to Support a Holistic Lead Management Process?
Does it mirror the customer journey map? Does it support tracking new customer acquisition and returning customers?
Many organizations originally set up a lead management process from the seller perspective, with it using the typical stages of new, engaged, MQL, SQL, Opportunity attached and Closed Won. Guess what, this is not customer-centric. The customer relationship does not end with “closed won.” A customer-centric approach will encourage and enable your sales and marketing teams to improve the customer experience at each stage of their buying journey. Imagine overhauling this process in the MarTech stack so that the stages are: unaware, aware, consideration, evaluation, decision, onboarding, adopting, value realization, loyalty and advocacy. Knowing what stage the buyer is in enables marketing and sales to precisely target them with the right content at the right time. The possible answers to Question 2 are:
- We have not implemented a lead management process in our MAP/CRM systems.
- We have the basic lead life cycle model defined, but the stage changes are manual.
- We have automated the lead management process stage changes from new to closed won.
- We have implemented in the technology a holistic customer lifecycle, based on the buyer journey, that includes new customer acquisition stages and existing customer expansion stages.
Question 3. Does Marketing Have the Data to Engage With Customers on Behalf of Sales, Operations and Customer Support?
Does it have that data at the appropriate stages in the buyer journey and with the right content for that stage?
Marketing has mastered the communications channels, owns all the digital properties and social channels, and creates all the engaging content for all buying journey stages. It is moving beyond just being the organization that helps sales find new customers. Marketing has the ability to be the customer communications service to the entire company, and in so doing becomes the organization most in the spotlight for providing great customer experience. So if marketing is going to communicate with new customers in the days and weeks after their purchase, or when contracts are up for renewal, or for customer support surveys, or reward loyalty, is the data available to them to automate this? The possible answers to Question 3 are:
- Marketing and sales systems do not have a bi-directional flow of data.
- Marketing and sales platforms are integrated, and marketing can see exactly where buyers are in their buying journey with sales.
- Marketing can see what customers bought, how often they buy, and when, and automate direct communications on multiple channels with customers as a result.
- Marketing can see customer support and operations interactions with customers, can see support contract dates and pertinent fields, and can automate communications to customers on behalf of these organizations.
Becoming customer-centric and driving great customer experiences is a whole-firm initiative and cannot be driven by any one function alone. Marketing plays a pivotal role because they own and are masters of so much of the communications technology, but it has to be integrated to enable marketing to offer communications as a service to sales, operations and support.
If your goal in 2019 is to improve customer experiences, and your answers to the three questions above are in the I, or II range, it is definitely time to review your MarTech stack, and the integrations it supports. Don’t be complacent. Determine now what it will take in the 2019 budget to enable you to lead on this important initiative and make customer-centricity a reality in the coming year.