Turbocharging Customer-Centric Marketing with Insight

Emily James

Pitch It: The Business Case for Customer Salience

As insight experts, we understand the power of insights, their inherent value in key decision-making...


Emily James

    Marketing, as with all other business departments and industries globally, relies a lot on market research, primarily to form and inform campaigns and gather feedback at to their success. However, for all that marketing departments use research, there aren’t many that are truly customer-centric.

    So how can market research help enhance marketing strategies to be the best they can be?

    Turbocharging Marketing Strategies

    Marketing is about creating and maintaining a relationship between the business and the customers, and so any strategy employed must work towards that end. Interaction, for one example, is key to a successful relationship. Market research can inform marketing professionals of how their unique customer-base prefers to interact with them:

    • What channels do they use most and when?
    • What tone of voice to they respond positively to?
    • What content do they want to see?

    These three questions are arguably the baseline of a fantastic marketing plan, and if a business hits them dead on, then they can expect fantastic results in terms of customer engagement and business growth.

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    For all that marketers use market research, there aren't many that seem to be truly customer-centric and reap the rewards as a result. How can insights enhance marketing strategies for success?

    What marketing professionals will undoubtedly encounter is the insight that customers prefer their interactions and experiences to be personalised to them. Each touchpoint on the customer journey has to be different, engaging and exciting to the consumer in order to keep their attention and respond positively to the brand, and so the strategy must take this into account. Designing and optimising your content and communications so that each time your customer reads something different, something personalised, something unique, and something engaging can be hard, however it can be done through concept testing and other market research methods.

    The content that marketing professionals create must first be relevant; relevant to the customers, but also relevant to the brand’s mission, values, and actions. Relevant content needs to work to improve their customers’ lives in some way, whether that in terms of knowledge, opportunity, or action. This type of content means customers will form a more positive view of the brand for more than just the products it sells; they will form a view of the brand as a living entity that they can form a meaningful relationship with.

    The medium and channel that this content is going to be delivered by is just as important as the relevance of the topic. You wouldn’t expect a webinar to do as well on Facebook as it would on Linkedin or Twitter. But it would all depend on the type of audience the firm has following them on each platform. Once the relevant topics and channels have been selected, the next technique marketers must employ is that of emotive storytelling. Emotive Storytelling is a great way to keep your customers engaged until the very end, and can be employed within a number of different mediums and marketing channels. For more ways on how to tell an effective story, see our other blog.

    Break through Demographic Stereotypes

    Before all of this research into the marketing strategy can happen, in order to create a truly customer-centric marketing strategy, businesses need to understand their own unique customer base and target consumer audience. In the most recent edition of Research Live’s Impact Magazine, (Issue 26 July 2019), there was a fascinating article about breaking through the stereotypes with different strategies to obtaining customer insights, and an idea as to what different insights that were needed in order to gain a better understanding of consumer interests and motivations.

    The author of this article, Jim Phillips, states that “combining customer-tracking surveys with operational and sales data offers the potential to identify what motivates us, rather than just what demographic category we fall into.” This idea of understanding what motivates us is very prevalent in research today, which is supported by the research that FlexMR recently conducted into the influence of consumer “tribes” on individual decision making.

    The example used within the article shows that O2 are “pushing [themselves] really hard to get away from generic segmentation…” as it often lends itself to stereotypical insights, and their data is so much broader than that. The mobile data brand prefers to consider a customer’s affinities, not just their attributes. Discovering the things that a customer likes offers the chance to segment them based on preferences, but this is much more data-intensive, and requires knowing the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’. The reward is that customers are more likely to respond to messages positively because they feel they have been heard.

    Source: Phillips, J. (07/19). Shattering Stereotypes. Impact Magazine, (26), pp.28-38.

    Customer-centric Marketing Successes

    There are a few successful companies who have demonstrated excellent understanding of and commitment to their customers within their marketing and business strategies:

    1. Slack optimises their content as outlined above for their target audience, providing their customers with engaging and relevant experiences through their podcast ‘Work in Progress’, which focuses on real human stories exploring how work transformed people’s lives. Bill Macaitis, Slack’s former CMO, CRO, and Board Advisor, estimates that today, Slack’s podcast has more than 10 million listeners, all engaging with the brand for 20-30 minutes regularly whenever a new episode is live.
    2. At Amazon, innovation starts and ends with the customer; having a customer-centric leader at the helm does wonders for the business as a whole including the marketing strategy, as everything is done with that in mind.
    3. Starbucks caters to all customers and embraces eclecticism. Their greatest policy which they have marketed is their ‘Third Place’ policy which states that they welcome everyone to use their space and don’t need anyone to purchase anything in order to do so. This has turned Starbucks’ cafes into a welcoming, pressure-free environment free for everyone, rather than just something for their customers. While this drives up profits naturally (the smells and the sight of everyone else eating or drinking will entice the non-customers to purchase something too in time), it also increases the amount of time consumers engage directly with the firm on the front line.
    4. McDonald’s CEO, like Amazon, is very customer-centric in his beliefs, creating a culture of listening to and acting on customer feedback. McDonald’s was on the receiving end of a lot of negative feedback, but they managed to turn it around significantly, rebranding itself dramatically from the notorious fast-food giant, to a healthier alternative to most fast-food brands.
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    There are a few key companies who have demonstrated excellent understanding of and commitment to their customers within their marketing and business strategies:

    Getting Started

    While this is all well and good, for those firms who don’t know how to use research in this way, it can be hard to take that first step into marketing greatness. The Five Second test is great for identifying how a brand’s website is viewed by consumers, and thus their overall perception. This can be a great starting point for brands who want to use research and insights to recreate, rebrand, or market themselves as effectively and impactfully as possible.

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