The days of the impersonal, old-school customer engagement strategy — one that entailed semi-relevant, somewhat-targeted messaging sent to prospects and customers across a few, seemingly lucrative channels at imprecise times — are gone.
In place of this dated approach is a new customer engagement model that accounts for the hyper-specific interests and behaviors of both individuals and segments in one’s database and delivers the right message to “opted-in” contacts in real time.
And as Gallup’s Vibhas Ratanjee and Teresa Tschida noted, there are two key components required to construct this kind of effective customer engagement strategy today:
“[T]o truly drive emotional engagement with customers, your organization will need to balance user-focused technology and highly personalized human connection.”
In other words, you need both the right martech — starting with a centralized database to unify all your first-party data — and a people-centric, privacy-conscious marketing game plan to craft a prosperous, scalable customer engagement strategy for your brand.
The first step to developing this model? Understanding its importance — and how failing to adopt it can lead to myriad issues for your company: from poor customer experience and lower conversion rates to a decline in customer loyalty and potential rise in churn rate.
Why your customer engagement strategy must evolve in 2020 and the years ahead
The passage of data privacy laws like GDPR and the CCPA. The release of browser privacy updates such as Apple ITP. The ongoing (and increasing) frustrations among consumers regarding the collection and use of their personal data.
These are just a sample of the biggest contributing factors that have led businesses worldwide to construct more advanced customer engagement strategies.
They’ve even led organizations to rethink their business models and reevaluate if they offer enough value to audiences in exchange for their personal data.
It’s these companies — ones that understand both the potential negative ramifications of failing to evolve their marketing and the vast opportunity to earn more loyal customers through consent-driven digital marketing programs — that “win” today.
Thankfully, more brands and marketers are coming around to the idea they can do better regarding their use of proactively provided consumer data.
Half of marketing executives who replied to a 2019 CMO Council survey said “respecting the data that the customer has voluntarily provided” and “communicating in a personalized way, honoring the data the customer has given” are two top priorities for their companies.
And this prioritization clearly pays off: Gallup research indicates businesses that provide the largest levels of “customer impact” (e.g., a strong customer support team to promptly address issues and questions) have 72% more engaged buyers and greater bottom lines.
Mindfulness with customer data use, respect for your audience’s willingness to receive messaging that promotes your products and services, and a focus on front-end customer experience: That is how leading organizations become leading organizations.
Humanizing your brand to boost customer interactions — and customer satisfaction
“The more personal your marketing, the more likely the audience is to feel a connection to the brand, to care and to know what matters to you.”
This insightful tidbit from modern marketing expert Andy Crestodina is right on the nose — and should be the mantra for every marketer today.
You may have a robust, ROI-improving personalization strategy that helps you serve pertinent messaging to niche customer segments across channels.
But “people-based marketing” — a term that’s taken off in recent years — involves much more than showing a social media to ad or creating content recommendations for individuals based on their browsing histories, purchases, and other interactions.
Rather, people-based marketing — and effectual customer engagement — is about:
- Connecting with your audience on an individual level based on first-party data you’ve collected about them — not soon-to-be-extinct cookies
- Communicating with them in a human way (following consent opt-in, of course) across their preferred channels and mediums of choice
“Shifting the focus from cookies to people, marketers of the future realize they have all the data at their fingertips,” Inc. magazine guest contributor James Paine wrote. “The good ones just know what to do with it.”
An astute point — and one worth reiterating: The dissolution of third-party cookies, and its once-sizable role as a vital marketing resource for brands, is actually a blessing in disguise.
Its “end” now allows marketers to (finally) focus all their promotional attention and energy on the far more lucrative first-party data to deliver bespoke experiences for their audiences.
It’s certainly important to consider how you use this customer data and, in turn, make your customers feel with your messaging throughout your cross-channel marketing efforts.
But it’s equally vital to unify your first-party data in a single source of truth where you can readily activate that data when and where you need and see contacts’ profiles update dynamically in order to realize your revised customer engagement strategy.
Put another way, your modified engagement model requires a new, long-term vision regarding how you can better interact with and convert your customers — and, in all likelihood, a new, primary marketing database to be the central hub of your stack.
Modern martech you need to transform your customer engagement model
Authentication, consent, and value exchange are the core tenets of the modern customer engagement strategy. Neglect one of these central components, and you simply won’t be able to execute a productive lifecycle marketing orchestration strategy.
As we’ve discussed, companies that excel in the data privacy era are the ones that put customer identity in the middle of their operating model.
Translation: Every marketing activity — from individualized email recommendations for particular prospects to customer service chats with current website visitors — incorporates customer identity and, therefore, the related PII that lives in contacts’ profiles.
And the CDP is what marketing professionals the world over continue to turn to to better understand their audiences, deliver resonant messaging to those contacts, and, at the end of the day, build customer engagement strategies that help grow the business.
Sure, data lakes, customer relationship management solutions, and other legacy database martech still have a (modest) place in one’s stack and the modern marketing age at-large.
But it’s the CDP that helps marketers extract more value from the technologies — particularly when it comes to customer engagement and data privacy measures:
- CRM software offers incomplete customer records that don’t account for anonymous data (e.g., browsing behavior) — a vital part of compliance with the CCPA and GDPR.
- Campaign management tools provide customer records that only know a given individual within the context of some, but not all marketing channels.
- Data warehouses host inaccessible customer records that are difficult for marketers to both utilize across channels and with the speed required for data compliance.
By integrating the first-party data — and only first-party data — collected in these disparate systems into your CDP of choice, you get the once-mythical, now-mandatory single customer view that can facilitate your customer engagement strategy.
In other words, this data unification into a CDP helps you authenticate contacts’ identities, earn consent from them (and update consent statuses), and determine the distinct value exchange that will convince contacts to remained opted in long term.
Advancing your customer engagement strategy — and ROI — with a CDP
Leveraging modern martech like the customer data platform to liberate unified first-party data in human-centric, consent-oriented messaging via your owned, earned, and paid channels: That’s the modern marketer’s mission today.
And it’s one they have to accept in order to build the customer engagement strategy their businesses need to flourish, both from a revenue and reputation perspective.
Download our new eBook to learn how you can develop a customer engagement model that helps your marketing strategy thrive in the consumer privacy era.