Marketers constantly evaluate the ideal back-end marketing technology they need to deliver a high-quality customer experience (CX) for their prospects and buyers. And they should.
After all, built-for-purpose martech makes all the difference, given best-in-class solutions can help marketing professionals accomplish pivotal tasks with greater ease: from tracking customer interactions at the micro level to messaging prospects in real time across channels.
What many marketers don’t assess in equal measure is how to build a stellar front-end customer experience off the back of their CX software of choice.
Identity management systems, consent management platforms, journey analytics tools — these are all beneficial solutions that help digital marketers build the necessary tech backbone to support their overarching customer experience strategies.
But to improve customer experience management for your organization, you need more than just the right martech that helps you measure customers’ satisfaction and engagement.
You also need a front-end CX approach that compels visitors, followers, and users to offer their personal information and opt in to receive your promotional messaging so you can capably nurture and convert them with your customer lifecycle marketing efforts.
Front-end customer experience: The ultimate competitive differentiator
This isn’t yet another “Did-you-know-CX-is-important?” thought leadership piece or an elementary post that answers basic questions like “What is customer experience?”
You know what customer experience is. And you know it’s vital to steadily refine your CX strategy each and every day to bolster both your acquisition and retention.
Having said that, we will share one succinct, yet insightful quote from CX expert Kerry Bodine that stands out from the vast digital marketing influencer crowd today:
“Exceptional customer experiences are the only sustainable platform for competitive differentiation.”
It’s not just about earning new business, retaining buyers for the long run, and upselling and cross-selling them with custom offers to boost their customer lifetime value.
Before you can even think about these tasks, you need to identify prospects, earn their consent, and offer distinct value to them to get them “in” the digital door.
Putting customers’ wants and needs at the forefront of your marketing program is essential. Without this customer-centric approach and culture, you’ll find it fairly difficult to not only meet your principal metrics, but also continually and consistently satisfy customers.
The 3 components of front-end CX (and some customer experience examples)
With that in mind, here are the three core “ingredients” of front-end customer experience today — ones that create a recipe for you and your team to earn greater customer loyalty, bolster your brand reputation, and improve your marketing metrics.
Element #1: Data authentication
We recently covered the five “customer confidence levels” marketers can reach today. The preeminent level all businesses should strive for? Authenticated.
Why? Because this means an organization has enticed once-unknown contacts to proactively engage with them in some manner (e.g., site or app log-in, email newsletter sign-up), that, in turn, helps them authenticate the individuals and begin to flesh out their profiles.
Simply put, you can’t deliver a good customer experience (or even come close to an award-winning CX) without authenticating your audience first and foremost.
This is certainly a tall task for all companies nowadays, given the consent-focused marketing climate in which every organization operates. But with some strategic tactics, you can convince your would-be customers to engage with you online or offline.
Some of the biggest brands today recognize the need to routinely test new ways to get their target buyers to interact with them — and many have seen great success:
- Nike offers customer loyalty perks for those who join its NikePlus program: “Exclusive” is one of the most powerful words when it comes to both enhancing customer perception and turning non-buyers and casual shoppers into repeat purchasers. Nike inarguably does marketing better than most brands today, and its NikePlus program proves no different. Free and expedited shipping, biweekly rewards offers, and — you guessed it — exclusive products on its desktop and mobile presence for logged-in users. All in all, an excellent way to allure prospective customers to authenticate their identities and allow the sporting goods brand to personalize custom product recommendations to them.
- Esquire experiments with “micro-memberships” for niche newsletter sign-ups: Consumers’ willingness to pay for premier content seems to vary based on publications’ niches, expertise, and (not surprisingly) quality. But one thing that’s certain is the one-rate-for-all-content approach hasn’t helped many publishing brands grow revenue. Enter Esquire’s innovative approach to fueling monetization and growing subscriptions. The magazine tested a micro-membership for an email newsletter featuring content from one of the publication’s political reporters. The results? A bump in subscribers of roughly 10,000 in the year following the membership model experiment’s start and some strong word of mouth.
- Disney introduces MagicBands that provide special park access and info: Exceeding customer expectations is always top of mind for the media and entertainment conglomerate. Its MagicBands do just that. Every visitor to one of the brand’s parks gets one of these wristbands with RIFD technology and, as Forbes contributor Bernard Marr put it, “make the entertainment venue a giant computer.” It’s a mutually beneficial CX: Visitors get insights regarding ride line length, best places to eat, and other inside info and offers, while Disney gets first-party data from authenticated individuals it can use to better personalize experiences and further authenticate them.
In essence, authentication is the starting line for front-end customer experience. And your marketing and CX efforts will never move beyond this line without getting your potential buyers and subscribers to identify themselves accordingly.
Element #2: Customer consent
Of course, you can’t market to authenticated contacts without first gaining consent.
Consent management may still feel like a foreign concept to some marketing professionals today. But having a strategy around it — and martech that can handle it (i.e., updating consent to ensure it’s accurate at all times across all your marketing systems), is now mandatory for all companies.
This may seem to be a fairly straightforward process for organizations today:
- Step #1: Offer an opt-out option for those who engage with us online and decide they don’t want any (or want limited) promotional messaging from us.
- Step #2: Orchestrate lifecycle marketing activities to those who explicitly state they want to receive messaging from us and not to those who opt out.
However, it’s much more nuanced than “Gain consent, and we’re good to go.” You also have to factor in ongoing consent governance, the UI/UX of your digital presence, and your martech stack with your front-end customer experience management.
As Gartner Senior Director Analyst Bryan Yeager noted around the time GDPR went into effect, crafting a comprehensive consent management game plan for one’s brand “will entail a multidisciplinary approach that will include crafting clear communications regarding consent, designing intuitive user flows and governing how information flows through to the marketing systems that orchestrate each audience touch point.”
Transparency with your website visitors regarding how they can opt out, should they want to, and providing a clean, easy-to-navigate user interface to easily identify your legally required consent messaging (bottom of every page, basically) is crucial.
Not sure if your website consent language is clearly visible and findable? Get customer feedback. Implement live chat on your site to make it simple for users to reach out with consent concerns. Make it known your customer service team is ready to help.
Beyond the customer experience on your website, it’s equally vital to ensure your marketing technology is capable of gathering and updating consent dynamically.
For instance, our pure-play CDP offers consent management functionality that simplifies the entire process for marketers. Real-time updates are made to customers’ unified profiles regarding all data points — including and especially their consent status.
Thus, complying with GDPR, the CCPA, PIPEDA, and the many other international data privacy laws brands must abide by is entirely streamlined.
That means fewer headaches for you, greater operational efficiency for your team, and a sigh of relief for your C-suite, knowing contacts’ consent is always 100% correct.
Element #3: Value exchange
You continue to authenticate more and more individuals by the day. You offer clearly detectable consent opt-out language on your site. You have a marketing platform that makes your consent management machine run smoothly.
Now you just need to ensure your business offers considerable value to your audience in order to prevent them from abandoning your funnel and withdrawing their consent.
It’s often the last front-end CX element marketers consider, given there are no legal ramifications around “value” like there are with securing and preserving consent.
As BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach noted in our webinar on the death of third-party cookies, marketing professionals such as yourself can create a phenomenal customer experience that actually allows progressive and helpful customer data collection — but you have to give something back in return for collecting their data.
For example, personalization and individualization are still preferred by a wide swath of consumers today. By leveraging their customer profiles — and, therefore, unique attributes, buying behaviors, and brand interactions — you can deliver on-point messaging in real time (i.e., upon subsequent site sessions and email opens) to elevate their CX.
“When designing privacy interactions, marketers must remember to add the why to the what, explaining not only how data will be used but also what’s in it for the consumer,” information privacy professional Gabe Morazan wrote for CMSWire.
With 86% of consumers indicating they’re willing to pay more for a brand’s products or services in exchange for a better customer experience, per Walker’s Customers 2020 report, it’s evident organizations immensely benefit from putting customers’ preferences and pain points at the center of their marketing programs.
Improving your CX strategy starts and ends with a customer data platform
As with countless other components of your online and offline marketing efforts, improving your front-end customer experience strategy is both an art and a science.
The first two elements (authentication and consent) require a methodical, precise approach to comply with the aforementioned measures. The final element (value) is a subjective task, based on your niche industry and audience needs.
What all three CX “ingredients” have in common, though, is they can be handled with ease by using a CDP with consent management functionality — like BlueConic.
Unify all your authenticated first-party data into our centralized, single-source-of-truth database, and the consent for said data will be updated automatically. All that’s left on your front-end CX plate is to create the value needed to earn and maintain users’ consent.
Once that’s achieved, your organization will be completely ready to compete in the consent-driven climate and adjust to this new marketing paradigm.