The Customer-First Myth & Other Insights From Inbound 2018

Every year, thousands of people from around the globe flock to Boston for INBOUND—the nation’s premiere marketing & sales event. With hundreds of breakaways per day, there was a lot of information to take in. Not to worry—we’ve got you covered (whether or not you attended the event). Here are the top 3 insights from INBOUND 2018 that you need to know.

Put Your Customers First (Don’t Just Say That You Do)

You hear it all the time: We are a customer-driven brand. The truth? Most companies are only driving their customers away. After all, putting your customers first goes well beyond writing the word “you” every once in awhile.

In the session, “Why No One Gives a Shit About Your Brand Or Your Message,” speaker Keenan, A Sales Guy Inc. CEO, discussed sales emails in particular. A good sales email shouldn’t focus on what your company can do in general, but rather which problems your product or service can solve. Specifically, he explained that you must:

  1. Identify your prospect’s current state (based on industry research) to show you have what it takes to properly diagnose their problems
  2. Discuss your prospect’s future state – What they specifically hope to solve? What goals do they have? What’s getting in the way of achieving those goals?
  3. Address the gap between the current and future state, and what it will take to bridge it.

In “Building A Brand With Kindness,” Bumble’s Chief Brand Officer, Alex Williamson, explained that Bumble puts customers first by taking note of direct feedback from users, their experiences, and the language they use. From there, Bumble makes a point of publicly showing customers and brand followers how their feedback is utilized from product improvements to customer spotlights on social media.

Another common point top brands and B2B businesses mentioned when it comes to putting customer first? Data. Many organizations emphasized the importance of investing in tools (i.e. the Lucky Orange heat mapping software or Lineate’s data integration and orchestration platform, DataSwitch) that give you actionable insights on how customers interact with you online from website navigation to cross-channel campaign experiences.

Sell Experience (Not Your Product)

Starbucks doesn’t just sell coffee, it offers customers the experience of relaxing and recharging. Bumble isn’t just a dating app, it’s a place that levels the playing field and empowers women to make the first move. Businesses that know how to talk about themselves beyond their features are the ones who succeed. But how do you do that consistently?

In Adobe’s 2018 Consumer Email Survey, half of U.S. consumers reported that their preferred channel for contact from brands is email, but 39 percent said they want marketing emails that are less promotional and instead give relevant information. Ultimately, it’s about what your features solve and what experiences they create for customers. Before writing an email about a product, take a step back to consider the “so what?” Why should a customer care that you can do something? How will it help bridge the gap between their current and future state?

Establish Credibility To Retain Customers Longer

Brands can no longer expect trust from consumers-—it must be earned, namely, through transparency. We live in the age of the Amazon buying experience, after all: reviews, timeliness, and social proof. That said, if your brand doesn’t have the amount of case studies it needs or the number of reviews necessary, here are a few ways to establish credibility, instead:

  1. Cross-publish industry articles in the publications your customers read
    • Tip #1: Have the bylines written by your most customer-facing employees. That way, when these people address customer problems, they can use content they’ve published to further solidify their expertise.
    • Tip # 2: You don’t have to pay-to-play to be seen. Have your marketing team work on a few ideas for value-focused content to pitch to editors. Editors’ emails are often listed with guidelines on their preferred pitching styles.
  2. Promote your brand’s approach to data management and privacy
    • Tip: With the rise of data laws like GDPR, brands that take a proactive approach to communicating their take on privacy and security are more likely to build customer trust.
  3. Be clear about your pricing structure (B2B-specific): Hubspot CTO, Dharmesh Shah, discussed the value of listing your pricing structure. And research supports it. According to a May 2018 CMO Council report, 51% of consumers say pricing transparency is one of their biggest expectations when shopping for a product or service online.

Figuring out the best way to make your customers happy is ongoing process. But it’s worth the effort. According to The Harvard Business Review, fully connected customers are 52% more valuable than those who are just “highly satisfied.” In fact, their value extends across a variety of metrics such as purchases and frequency of use. Harnessing the power of your data is the first step to creating experiences that make your customers truly happy. Reach out to one of our experts today to see how Lineate’s data orchestration platform can build holistic views to better inform your strategy for connecting with your customers long-term.

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