As the holidays draw near, retail, eCommerce, and DTC brands are gearing up for massive marketing campaigns around Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other holiday sales. With them will come an increase in customer acquisition costs (CAC).
While these aggressive paid marketing campaigns can bring in a flood of new customers, this strategy doesn’t always translate into long-term value or customer loyalty.
In this guide, you'll learn how to map opportunities to deliver amazing customer experiences and move your marketing efforts to a more sustainable, experience-based focus.
Let's dive into how you can leverage customer experience management (CXM) to make CX your key differentiator in standing out from the crowd this holiday season and beyond.
- Traditional marketing on its own can't meet your customers' needs
- What is Customer Experience Management (CXM) and why does it matter?
- What can retail, eCommerce, and DTC brands do to adopt Customer Experience as their differentiator? 5 proven strategies.
- Optimizing your data management to deliver great experiences
- Final words
Traditional marketing on its own can't meet your customers' needs.
As consumers, we are facing severe channel exhaustion because we can only be exposed to so many ads over a single channel, and the ones we use are already packed with ads.
Estimates claim that the average person encounters between 6,000 to 10,000 ads daily.
The thing is, this sort of aggressive marketing doesn’t work as well as we would think. Customers acquired through these means consistently perform worse over time than loyal customers acquired through a focus on servicing them, not only selling to them.
- For example, CAC for 2020 Black Friday week was 13% higher than other times of the year as calculated on paid search and digital media.
- Additionally, the repurchase rate and 6-month lifetime value from customers acquired during this period were lower than the average for the rest of the year, meaning they tend to burn and then churn quickly.
Despite the long-term risks, sales increase for brands who plan their Black Friday strategies correctly.
Playing the traditional playbook is not enough to drive the results brands, and customers want.
Forget the basic conversion tricks and start delivering a consistent and well-thought-out customer experience management (CXM) strategy.
What is Customer Experience Management (CXM) and why does it matter?
CXM is the collection of processes brands use to manage the customer experience. They oversee and organize every interaction to maximize satisfaction and promote customer loyalty.
The ultimate goal is to keep customers happy and coming back for more by offering a unique experience that can’t be easily replicated.
Customer Experience Management emerged as a set of methods used to understand the patterns that make up great experiences, gain deep insights into customer behavior, and constantly apply all this knowledge to improve their experiences.
A good Customer Experience Management plan is essential today when you can get identical products from dozens of different eCommerce and DTC sites.
Why should any customer pick your brand above all others if their catalogs are so similar?
Well-implemented CXM gives them reasons to stay with you over other brands.
- 44.5% of brands worldwide perceive CX as the primary competitive differentiator. [*]
- 45% also stated that AI solutions will reshape their CX in the next 5 years. [*]
According to these numbers, nearly half of the surveyed brands claim that CX is the top differentiator and also recognize that the landscape is changing in favor of AI integration. As a result of this shift, brands are now competing to provide great service and unique customer experiences.
Some of the many benefits of embracing CXM best practices include:
- More customer retention. Repeat customers are far more profitable than one-time customers.
- Referrals. Loyal customers bring in even more customers via word-of-mouth at no additional cost to the brand.
- Deeper customer data. A combination of feedback, ratings, surveys, and other means will give you the information you need to keep satisfying your customers.
- Omnichannel visibility. Servicing customers through multiple channels provides them access and convenience while keeping your inventory moving and collecting even more data.
What can retail, eCommerce, and DTC brands do to adopt Customer Experience Management as their differentiator? 5 proven strategies.
In the early 2010s, brands could profit from marketing great products through Facebook ads. The cost of buying impressions for product-centric brands wasn’t very high, and they could thrive in this landscape.
But as competition increased, brands needed to stand out from the dozens of other brands doing the same.
These are 5 proven strategies brands adopted to stand out in a highly-competitive market where customers' needs set the pace.
1. Take a look back: identifying trends and patterns in data.
The first step in preparing for holiday sales is analyzing how people behave on our website during this time of year and uncovering opportunities for improvement for this year.
When analyzing the data from your previous holiday sales, you can gain insights into user behavior. Sales numbers, purchase histories, and customer engagement can all be tracked to help you understand the patterns of your customers and make data-driven decisions.
2. It’s all about them. Position the brand and customers as the focal points.
The customer persona and the trust your customers feel for your brand should be at the center. In other words, you must become a customer-centric brand.
One way to deliver this during the holiday season is by being easy to contact, since people will want to take advantage of sales as quickly as possible.
Fast, reliable customer service can be the difference between someone buying your product or abandoning their shopping cart. Make sure to provide as many ways for people to contact you as possible.
And don't forget that successful customer interaction is more than just good technical support. It's also about giving customers a friendly, accessible face to the company.
3. Provide personalization
Personalization is linked to a higher likelihood of purchase. In fact, many modern customers now expect personalization rather than considering it a nice bonus. If you want to compete, you need to offer personalization.
A few ways to introduce personalization are:
- Study the customer journey. Identify pain points to make adjustments that can improve the experience for every customer.
- Micro-segment your customer base. Segmentation is a fundamental part of targeting campaigns, but once customers have made purchases relevant to their preferences, they no longer want to receive generic ads. Instead, they want ads targeted at their specific likes and dislikes. That’s micro-segmentation, and it is what many customers expect.
- Dive into the omnichannel. Use data from in-store interactions, social media, phone calls, mobile apps, websites, email, and more, to extend their preferences across every possible touchpoint.
4. Deeply understand your customers while respecting their privacy.
To gain a deeper understanding of customer behavior, you need to know more than their demographic data (which is still important, don’t overlook it). To understand their tendencies and preferences better, you need to get data like:
- Social media behavior
- Identifying lifestyle choices and values to make segments out of these “soft” metrics
- Understanding the sites your traffic is coming from and the keywords that are leading users to your site
However, acquiring these data points is changing as users and institutions put more pressure on brands for increased privacy.
Navigating these restrictions is yet another challenge for brands adopting customer-centric models. But when they do adopt them, moving into these regulated markets becomes a smoother transition.
What can you do? Focus on integrating compliance into your tech stack so you can move fast into new markets without having to worry about outdated procedures getting in the way.
Additionally, you can stand out as a brand that not only collects the data customers need to improve their experiences but does so while respecting their privacy expectations.
Invest in a CX tech stack that enforces consent and identity and offers GDPR capabilities. It will enable you to move accurately and super fast into the regulated territory.
5. Take care of the performance of your sites.
It's the most wonderful time of the year, and your site is getting busier.
According to Adobe 2021 Report, for the entire Holiday Season, $88B or 43% of online retail sales were made from smartphones, so you need to pay attention to mobile performance. Make sure all your sites are functional, have short load times, and look professional.
Additionally, your phone traffic may also increase. Be ready to take it as an opportunity to offer more personalized customer experiences.
Optimizing your data management to deliver great experiences.
The key to optimizing everything related to your eCommerce site is efficiently managing data for activation, insights, and marketing purposes. There’s much to cover here, but these are the best strategies for starting to get your data in order and reaping the benefits.
The manual management data problem: Avoid data silos.
Data silos are the bane of any digitally native brand. They slow down and make operations less efficient by spreading data across multiple databases without immediate means of unifying it. Additionally, given the size of the sets, data points are not meant to be handled individually by employees.
Having no automated solutions to integrate data from multiple software and vendors leads to several problems. Three of the most important challenges are: manual data management, difficulties in measuring ROI on marketing budgets, and having no single view of your metrics.
One solution is to lean into automated integration marketing platforms instead of disparate specific solutions that leave us with unwieldy Martech stacks that don’t work well together, making complex metrics harder to determine, as the relevant data is not readily available.
Rely on the power of a Customer Data Platform (CDPs).
A CDP is a digital platform that helps companies collect, unify, segment, personalize and activate customer data across multiple channels. You can think of them as a potential solution to data silos, but not the only one available.
They’re an essential tool that marketing, sales, and product teams use to understand their customers and deliver better experiences.
The benefits of CDPs include but are not limited to
- Create single, unified data formats
- Automatic, real-time customer profile updates
- Built-in tools for designing and applying data governance and privacy plans
- Powerful customer segmentation
As an Adobe Solutions Partner, we use Adobe Real-Time CDP, a platform capable of creating unified customer profiles for B2C and B2B purposes.
Explore all-in-one platforms.
There are many software solutions for marketing and data management, but few platforms are designed to make them work together.
If you want to take control of the data you need to make better decisions, you’d benefit from diving into platforms such as Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) and Adobe Experience Platform (AEP).
- AEP is a CDP formerly known as Adobe Experience Cloud that creates unified customer profiles your brand will use to forward their digital transformation.
- On the other hand, AEM is a content and digital asset management system with an automation backbone. It’s made up of 5 modules, which together constitute a world-level CMS suite.
These are just two examples of the platforms we work with. There are many others out there, and one of them will be perfect for your needs.
The key to a successful holiday season is creating a seamless customer experience beyond a one-time interaction.
While it's essential to focus on getting all the right products into your customers' hands, this can be challenging without investing in a great customer experience. Great CXM provides a framework that enables you to manage customer expectations and keep them coming back long-term.
Consistency is the key while delivering your brand's promises. Every customer-facing organization should integrate the design and development of their experience into every aspect of their business. By doing this, you'll effectively master the art of managing customer expectations, a valuable skill in today's world.
Learn from this and dive deep into CXM best practices to make the experiences you provide for your customers the differentiator that makes you stand out from the rest this holiday season and beyond.