In today’s competitive, digitally-oriented business world, it’s not enough any longer to simply sell products or services – we must sell experiences.
Ooooo, we hear you say. Experiences.
We know – it’s a little vague, to be fair. And when all we’ve got is a SaaS tool or a FinTech solution to peddle, it doesn’t exactly scream “Disney Land” or even “Chessington World of Adventures”.
But, as perhaps “boring” as our business models may be on the surface, this doesn’t mean that we can’t create excitement and engagement at the most important level – with the customer.
Is Customer Experience the Most Important Level?
Of course it is.
Because all customers have a choice whether they do business with you or not. Regardless of how unique you may perceive your product or service to be, you will always have competitors. And indeed, if your customers are torn between your business and a rival across the road, then, aside from prices, the customer experience that you offer may well prove to be your crucial differentiator.
Check out these stats from clarabridge.com, from where we have also taken the screenshots of a brilliant infographic we highly recommend you check out.
- 86% of buyers will pay more for a better experience
- A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%
- 89% of consumers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service
- 89% of companies plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience by 2016
Great customer experiences make for happy customers. It’s as simple as that. And happy customers are far more likely to stay with your brand, spend more, and will result in great cost savings in terms of marketing – for it costs five times as much, according to ivespcro.com, to attract a new customer than retain an existing one.
4 Ways Inbound Marketing Improves the Customer Experience
So, let’s consider some tactics that can be used to improve the customer experience.
Inbound marketing shall be our weapon of choice (we are an inbound marketing company after all).
Inbound marketing can often be thought of solely as a means of attracting new customers to your business. And indeed, that is one of the greatest strengths of inbound marketing – but it doesn’t stop there.
Inbound marketing is just as important for retaining existing customers as it is for attracting new ones. And, with the right inbound marketing tactics in place, it can improve the whole customer experience with your brand from start to finish, and ensure that your valued customers continue doing business with you and don’t venture off in search of better experiences elsewhere.
Here’s how it works.
Inbound marketing practices involve gathering vast amounts of data about your customers.
This is done through analytics software such as HubSpot, through tracking customer behaviours on your website and social networks, through email conversations, and through each and every on- and offline interaction that customers make with your brand.
With all this information, it becomes very easy to start personalising your interactions.
To begin with, you will of course be using first names at the top of every email you send out to customers. But, beyond this basic approach, the content of your emails will also be tailored to each individual customer based on what you know about them.
Furthermore, inbound marketing tactics can also be used to target specific content deliveries in the direction of specific cohorts of customers. If you have a blog or an eBook that would be of particular interest to certain marketing personas, then you can provide them with a highly personalised experience by serving up links to this high-interest content on the networks you know they are most likely to frequent, ensuring that they don’t miss this vital information.
What’s more, when you do use a sophisticated inbound marketing tool like HubSpot, then you will even be able to serve different versions of your website to different customers, and I direct you towards HubSpot’s Content Optimisation System so you can see what I mean (and the screenshot below gives you a little flavour, too).
2. Thank You Emails and Special Offers
Following neatly on from the first point, inbound marketing tactics also allow you to tailor special, personalised offers to keep your existing customers happy.
A great way to do this is to tag a generous coupon voucher onto your thank you emails. And indeed, thank you emails are one great inbound marketing tactic in themselves that businesses should use as a matter of course to show their appreciation for custom.
But emails are not the only way to deliver special offers. Another huge part of inbound marketing takes place on social media. And so, creating exclusive offers that are “only available to our valued Facebook (or what have you) customers” is another targeting tactic that will improve the customer experience with your brand across as many channels as you see fit.
3. Adding Tons and Tons of Value
Inbound marketing tactics, if executed well, can add tons and tons of value to your brand.
From educational blog posts and eBooks to entertaining videos and infographics, there is an almost bottomless pit of opportunities that you can utilise to create content that will at once thrill, delight, entertain, educate and inform your customers.
It’s important, however, that you customise your content for existing customers. Inbound marketing, of course, is a very powerful tool for attracting new customers, but when you’re targeting existing ones, you need to create content that addresses different issues.
Think in terms of how they may extract even greater value from your core product or service, and in what format this information is best delivered – blogs, infographics, eBooks, white papers, or videos.
Delivering key industry insights will be even more valuable to your existing customers than even your special offers – so think hard about this, and then deliver.
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4. Socialise on Social
Great customer experiences are ongoing, and so you must do everything you can to ensure that you’re putting the “social” into your social networks.
If there’s an important industry discussion taking place on the likes of LinkedIn or Reddit, then make sure you’re there, contributing your ideas and building relationships as you go.
And the same goes for all of your other social networks. As you post content, you will generate engagement. And good inbound marketing practices dictate that you should aim to perpetuate this engagement, encourage it, and respond to every like and comment that you receive in order to build up an enthralled and active community surrounding your brand.
In 2017, consumers don’t like doing business with faceless entities – they like to know that there’s a human being or two behind the brand. And on social, you will be able to present your personality to the world, and give your customers an ongoing experience they can engage with, and a sense that they can turn to your business pages whenever they have a question or problem.