Customer journey projects are underway, and we are beginning to understand what customers do, where they go, and how they interact with the brand. We’ve thought about the technology we need to move forward, making decisions on investments and figuring out how to leverage what we have, if we can. The next steps are to develop the content and communications that will surround those journeys. We will build plans across all customer touchpoints, and that is no small task. And despite our best efforts, customers will still go astray.
The variations on messaging will be dependent on your brand as well as the lifestage of the customer. Understanding what is important and relevant to the customer will be very critical, especially in those moments when the relationship is at risk. When a customer is new to the brand, value propositions should be front and center, with a focus on what’s in it for them. When a loyal customer goes inactive, it may be necessary to consider a winback with financial or emotional considerations. An offer that can’t be beat, a loyalty program upgrade, or perks that only loyal customers can have. But we must keep in mind that it’s possible that the customer just doesn’t need you right now, and they’ll be back.
In this installment, some tips for customer engagement in automotive and consumer packaged goods:
Automotive: The holy grail of marketing to automotive brands is knowing when someone is in market. The fundamentals of CRM and data are especially important. While big broad media budgets can persuade to consider the brand, once the prospect begins to seriously shop, strategies need to kick in to capture information and engage handraisers, and know that it’s an ongoing effort. The purchase of a new car can be an emotional event or just another day. Some of us will keep a car until it falls apart, others may want a new one every year, others will look to buy a new one when their lease or loan is paid off. It’s not easy to create actionable segments around those variables, but it’s a reality that most new car buyers who are in-market don’t make themselves known to the OEM or their dealer until they are far down the path to purchase. Which means the OEM needs fast and furious messaging, and a strong omnichannel content strategy in the prospects preferred channel.
To be relevant, OEM’s need to give the customer the information they need, give them the right offers, and get them to the dealer or eCommerce as fast as possible. And remember that life happens, so a new car purchase could be pushed out a few months or six. Giving those handraisers reasons to engage and stay active may pay off later. Social plays a significant role in prospecting, since one of the steps in the customer journey usually relates to reviews and recommendations, and great recent campaigns by Chevy and Nissan show that.
When the OEM does not own the service experience, it is difficult to factor in the full lifecycle of the vehicle ownership into communications. On top of that, the OEM may never know that a customer is having issues with their vehicle. For those brands, planning customer communications means finding those reasons to be relevant that are related to the vehicle, and keeping the customer “brand loyal”. Data collection needs to be part of that mix, to help find those indicators that a new purchase might be coming. For example, getting tips on caring for a vehicle when it hits 100,000 miles, or life hacks. I saw one recently that was great; a mixture of rubbing alcohol, dish soap and water can dissolve ice off a windshield in a few seconds!
Consumer Brands: CPG marketers may not have the ability to follow a lead all the way through to purchase, so they need different metrics to track. Engagement is an excellent indicator, and giving customers and prospects relevant reasons to continue their relationship with you is worth the time and effort to figure it out. Avenues to explore include product education, lifestage information related to the product, advocacy, loyalty and rewards, and special customer events. The reasons that customers engage with the brand is part of the strategy you need to uncover.
When you don’t have purchase data, you need to find ways to find and engage the customer. Some products have registrations; Apple products are the best example of forced identification and registration. Other brands need to find reasons, like warrantees or related product maintenance programs. Like the automotive strategies, relevancy should be focused around the product. For example, Electrolux offers customers advice on entertaining and recipes which makes sense given their kitchen appliances. For more specific data collection, J&J offers its customers Healthy Essentials, a site that combines health-related content with coupons. P&G uses similar strategies with P&G Every day.
When customers appear to have defected, it may be more of a question of re-engagement. Some marketers believe that an unopened email means a defection. More likely, it means that the recipient just doesn’t need the brand at that time, or they are interacting in another channel. You will need an “always-on” re-engagement trigger and reminder programs coordinated across channels that can help keep people engaged based on logical business rules and your data. But it’s my viewpoint that CPG brands need a CRM-based communication program to identify and learn more about their customers, which allows them to be hyper-relevant, and when they go inactive, determine if they have defected or just taking a holiday.
Stay tuned for installment, where I will explore tips for financial and retail.
Part I of this article can be found here: Breakage in the Customer Journey