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There are numerous challenges surrounding the creation of measurable experiences that drive customer loyalty.
Loyalty360 talked to Bruce Lilly, lead copywriter for The Draw Shop, to get his thoughts on this issue and many others tied to customer loyalty.
What is the biggest challenge that your clients face today in creating measurable experiences to drive customer loyalty? How do you recommend they measure efficacy?
Lilly: The biggest challenge clients face today is, without a doubt, clarity of message. You need to make your message not just clear, but impossible to misunderstand. Vagueness or ambiguity is the enemy when it comes to staying front-of-mind. When a company’s message—whatever that message might be—is clearly and freshly put out into the universe, potential customers are statistically more likely to take action.
Measuring the efficacy of those experiences you put out there is simple. Notice I didn’t say easy. It can be hard—but it’s simple in that there doesn’t have to be a lot of moving pieces. The fewer moving pieces, the better. Measure how many people engage your moments. Measure how many people perform the call to action. If your numbers are low, start by checking the logistical stuff. After you’ve made sure there are no formatting problems, consider whether your message is as on point and clear as it can be.
What are the biggest opportunities/challenges for brands and marketers today? If you could recommend one thing to a client (or prospective client), what would it be?
Lilly: Biggest opportunity: The limitless choices that technology is providing. It’s both amazing to have so many choices and disastrously paralyzing. A thousand paths lay ahead of the average brand or marketer that might draw your customer in or have them rolling their eyes. Which way should you go? There’s VR, interactive video—Ogilvy is even dabbling in outer space advertising, for god’s sake.
Pick the right technology and you’ll be rewarded with invaluable information about your customers and the ability to deliver them exactly what they want. Don’t, and, well … some of these paths are going to lead to dead ends inevitably. Take risks, but do your homework.
My one recommendation to a client is to get that it’s not your price or even necessarily your product or service that sells. In a global economy, you can be undercut in almost every way by people making things cheaper than you do. But having a compelling story that engages audiences and makes them feel understood can’t be constructed on the cheap. Time and time again, companies who can create a good brand story vault over all the others and land in the heart of their customers.
How sophisticated are the customer experience and customer loyalty initiatives of most brands today? From the very nascent stages of considering a program to the ability to assess and integrate an array of complex new technologies that create consistent and seamlessly connected programs, where do brands exist along this spectrum?
Lilly: Not very sophisticated, but some go crazy with it. Fact is, you can’t just give the client what they want. That’s a big mistake many startups make: they focus too much on making the product perfect, whatever that means, without putting the effort into planning how they’ll connect with their target market in a stand-out way. Their product or service might be perfect—odds are it’s not, of course, because nobody is—but if they can’t sell themselves right, it just doesn’t matter.
We continue to hear about brands that are looking to create alignment between their customer loyalty efforts and the brand promise. Should all brands try to become the next “Apple” or “Amazon?” Or is it more realistic and/or beneficial for brands to understand their own unique brand identity, and then define objectives, process, and programs that align with that unique identity?
Lilly: Understand your own unique brand identity, 100 percent. Even Apple and Amazon knew one crucial rule: Know thyself. They knew you needed to align yourself with a simple and specific service or product, do that amazingly well, provide it to your customers in a way that is unequaled, and give them a story that touches their heart. Apple was primarily a seller of personal computers at first, and Amazon was primarily a seller of books (books, no less, stored in the Bezos’ garage). But they had a vision and identity all their own—and this drove their objectives, processes, programs, and future.
There is so much focus on customer data and around creating actionable insight now. So how should brands be managing data in a way that is less complex, easier to understand, and more impactful?
Lilly: You’ve got to focus on metrics you’re looking to improve and ignore the rest. Be focused and have metrics-specific goals. Don’t say, “I want more engagement and conversion”—engagement and conversion can be any number of things—instead, say, “I want to have the open rates of our emails up 3 per cent in two months.” Then work backward from that. You can measure that, and you can aim at that. And what you can aim at, you can potentially hit.
Pound for pound, interactive videos give you most useful customer data quicker and easier than any other platform I’ve seen. Any one video can have as many as 10, 20, or 30 touch points, and while customers are immersed, you’re getting self-segmented data.
Can you define what the phrase “customer journey” means to you? What does it mean to brands? And how do you see it changing?
Lilly: The customer journey is a sacred thing. It starts before they come into contact with you because you’re planning for their arrival, like a good host. You want things to be perfect. The customer journey is the customer walking through the path you’ve put together—it is every experience from the introduction to purchasing, re-purchase and beyond—all the way to lifetime loyalty. Have you dressed it up for them, or is it a bare-bones path? Brands must keep a strand of interest throughout—the perfect amount. But don’t overwhelm—provide them just what they need to take the next steps.
Those that nurture their clients appropriately for each stage prevail. Those that give too much at the beginning or lose the thread of interest lose their audience.
Can you define omnichannel/multichannel? What does that mean to you? What does it mean to most brands? How can brands manage the opportunity? How many brands understand these terms in relation to where they are / what they are doing / where the market is?
Lilly: Think of multichannel as the different ways you can reach customers: television, email, tablet, broadcast media, and so on. Omnichannel is the next level—it’s bringing these channels together and making sure the experience of your customer between them is seamless. For most brands, omnichannel provides fresh, actionable data they can use to improve their approaches, but more than that it improves the overall customer experience. I couldn’t say for sure how many brands understand these terms, and you don’t see an overwhelming amount of companies improving their omnichannel marketing—but you do see some. And, no surprise, those are the ones that are force-multiplying their marketing dollars.
What is the single most important thing that you have done (or do) over a period of engagement (say a year) that helps clients increase customer loyalty?
Lilly: The single most important thing is being there. Period. Exclamation point. And I don’t mean “be there” as in hiring someone to sit and answer the phones of your irate customers. I mean to be present in the customer’s experience—know where they are on their journey, know where their project is on its journey, and anticipate needs before the customer can, so you have an answer before they have a question. Doing this is not easy, but at the worst, you’ll wind up providing amazing customer service. Being there is not only good for customer loyalty because you’re being nice and thoughtful—it’s also just the way to have a really successful project, which of course brings people coming back.
If you could ask a brand, a customer, or a competitor one question, what would it be? Effectively, if you had a crystal ball and could ask any question, what would it be?
Lilly: I would ask our customers what we could have done to make their purchasing decision easier. It’s simple, it’s the eternal question, and any answer can help us improve.
What is the future of customer loyalty?
Lilly: One word: Immersive. Brands need to expand their definition of what value means and what engagement means. Value is not just $25-off cards—it’s an enjoyable experience or helping them help a charity they love. Engagement is no longer staring dumbly at a screen—it’s getting them to play along. People are sick to death of getting free money-off cards shoved in their face. They’re used to reading compelling texts and even watching the video will be overshadowed by more immersive means in the next five to ten years. The companies who get ahead when it comes to customer loyalty will be those who have a brand story that moves their customer base, and those whose interactions with their customer are rooted in enticing and exciting experiences, that provide value beyond just bucks.
How does your technology address any of the previous questions? How could you see your platform evolving to address them / what does your road map look like?
Lilly: Virtual reality whiteboard video is going to be the road many iconoclasts take to catch the attention of an emerging audience. The Draw Shop is a leader in that. Interactive video, too, provides the best touch points and self-segmented actionable data for marketers. It’s also super-duper new and engaging. Whenever a company creates one, it’s set apart from the herd instantly. Our road map is tied to our purpose, and so where we go in the future will be linked to constant re-envisioning of what it means to tell stories that are impossible to misunderstand. From Interactive to VR and beyond—we will follow that marvelous purpose wherever it leads.
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