• Lindsay

Experience Over Promotion

During the last week of September, I attended Technology for Marketing (TFM), one of the biggest exhibitions on the marketing calendar. I attend every year and it helps me keep up to date with all that is happening in the world of marketing tech. This year was exceptionally interesting in terms of how marketing is changing, so I wanted to share with you some of the insight I gathered.

Years ago, when I used to go to TFM, the exhibitors would be website providers, digital advertisers and anyone else that could help you get your message out there. I was genuinely surprised by how different the mix was at this year’s show. Gone are the days of it all being about promotion. Now it’s all about the user experience.

This has very much been driven by Google's plans to remove cookies by 2024. Not being able to track audiences in the same way will have a huge impact on how businesses control their marketing. There are several issues here, but we’re going to focus on just two that really stood out at the show.

1. Customer Journey

The idea of the customer journey isn’t new in marketing. Every customer will go through a journey with your company no matter what you sell. From the first time they hear about you, to successfully paying for your products or services, a multitude of steps can be involved, and that is the customer journey. The more you understand that journey, the more you can connect with your customers and increase the chance of them buying.

When we used to talk about optimising the customer journey, this was very much about strengthening messages, pushing value and encouraging sales. From the conversations I had at TFM, this whole task has now shifted sideways. Optimising the customer journey is now about optimising the customer experience.

Whether it’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), how people land on your website, or how they find out about you in the first place, it needs to be a more transparent experience, and you need to make it swift and painless. A delay of just 2.5 seconds now on loading a web page could be the difference between whether someone stays and looks around or whether they pop off somewhere else.

You might think this is crazy. But it’s actually not when you think about it.

When I first moved to London, many, many years ago, I was waiting for a tube. I had to wait three minutes and everyone around me was irritated. In the village I grew up in there were two buses or one train per hour, and you’d be lucky if any of them turned up at all. I had frequently waited twenty minutes to half an hour in the rain for public transport to arrive. But there was nothing I could do about it, so I grumbled and got on with it. The prospect of only having to wait three minutes, and for that time to be accurate, was like a dream come true.

Fast forward twelve months, I stood at the platform waiting for a tube and I had a three minute wait. I found myself cursing about how long a wait it was. It was then that I had the moment. I realised it’s all about perspective. If your only option is to wait for a bus that may or may not turn up every half an hour, then that’s the norm and you don’t question it. When suddenly everything in your life is instant, three minutes can seem like a lifetime.

It’s the same online. When you can get to access to instant information at your fingertips twenty-four hours a day, suddenly 2.5 seconds seems like a very long time. It’s not that we are innately impatient, but it feels as if something is wrong. We have a billion other things to be getting on. We can’t afford to waste our precious seconds. It’s all about perspective.

Think about your customers and what perspective they have. Are they happy to go at a slower pace or do they need instant information to aid them through their hectic lives? How hard is it to find out relevant information on your website? Are you trying to talk to too many people in one go, so you end up losing people who can’t access the details they need quickly enough? Is it time to strip back so you’re saying less, but what you are saying is exactly what your audience needs to hear?

Think about that customer journey and how you can make it smooth and pleasant, and so much better than any of your competitors.

2. Trust

The other element that I want to focus on is trust. If you can’t get data anymore through the back door, the only option you’ve got left is to ask people for data directly. But as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Why on earth is anyone going to volunteer to give up their data for free?

What you need to do here is firstly think about a value exchange. What are your customers getting in return for giving you their data? If they feel there is value in it, they will be more eager to share their information.

Secondly, and this is deeper, you need to think about how you can earn their trust. If someone doesn’t trust you, then they’re unlikely to want to interact with you. You need them onside now more than ever to have a good chance of selling to them. So how can you be more transparent in what you offer, increase your customer service levels, better open the lines of communication and make your customers feel good in the presence of your brand?

It’s not easy. If it was, we’d all have mastered it by now. But those who get this right, soar above everyone else, so it’s worth spending some time thinking about.

Lindsay Woodward Marketing is always here if you need any help or advice.

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