The Customer Life Cycle - Creating Advocates For Your Brand .

31266  image001

The initial drive to engage a customer and encourage them to purchase is one thing. The goal is to create long term customers, loyal customers -  advocates – customers so engaged with your brand that they will promote and recommend it to others and encourage them to buy too. There are different stages in the customer life cycle. These are: initial engagement to purchase, from purchase to repeat purchase, from repeat purchaser to advocate. The goal is always to pave the way for the next step, to prevent defection to another brand and give those customers reasons to continue to engage. Brand loyalty can be built even in a competitive retail environment, but you have to create significant points of difference for your brand to ensure it happens.  How your relationship with your customers evolves depends on the effort and investment you as a brand are willing to make to ensure the experience is positive.

Engaging customers and meeting their needs
In an ‘always on’ environment, with your on the go audience supported by their mobile devices, reaching your targets has in theory never been easier. Or has it? The amount of brand ‘noise’ and media customers are presented with daily is phenomenal. Customers are increasingly savvy and demanding when it comes to deciding how and when they want to communicate with your brand or your competitors. You as the marketer have to make sure you’re where they want you when they want you (or what you have to offer!). This does not mean always being there with your sales messages by the way! It means being there to answer questions and provide support too. It means being there with a positive experience when their previous favourite brand messes up! Reassurance is key…be clear about delivery options to suit their lifestyle, show them guarantee information for bigger purchases. Encourage them to review purchases and respond to any complaints. Cliché but true…make the customer your friend!

Stats from Click Fox’s Mobile Apps Consumer Survey (2011)  for example show that 78% of people were even then using mobile apps for customer service queries. They expect to be able to contact a brand to complain or rave about it 24/7. Hence the massive surge in the use of social media to communicate customer service queries. Eptica’s latest Customer Experience Survey however shows that whilst an increasing number of brands have a customer service Twitter profile, only 39% of queries are being answered satisfactorily. Not good enough! There is an edge to be seized here by brands that do the social customer service thing better.

Tailoring the conversation keeps customers longer
What do customers want, when do they want it and how to best deliver it? Understanding the demographics and behaviours of your customer base can provide insight into marketing strategies that activate customer spend and create incremental revenue. Customer engagement has to put the focus on the customer in order to be able to build a relationship. If we look at John Lewis – their website tailors each section to suit that part of their audience. The furnishing section of their Homes and Gardens department prominently features interest free credit offers as an option – countering the often cited objection ‘I can’t afford it at the moment’ that larger purchases can generate!

Conversely, the Electronics section at the time of writing was homing in on a ‘timed opportunity’ to capture impulse- buying football fans with World Cup imagery promoting the latest ‘smart’ large screen TV. All this is tapping into the customer’s psyche and hopefully tipping them into subsequent purchases with the mindset ‘John Lewis gets me’.

Conversations and offers need to be personalised, genuine and honest in order to gain trust with the customer. If these conversations can be prolonged and developed the customer will become more positively engaged and brands will achieve increased revenue, profit and higher customer retention. Additionally, the customer will feel valued, respected and more satisfied. It is all about knowing how to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Life Time Value
Customers want to be valued beyond an initial financial transaction. Their relationship with a brand is built through trust. The bottom line is determined by the extent to which excellent service can be delivered. The lifetime value of a customer translates into the amount of profit they will bring to a business over a lifetime of dealing with the brand. This isn’t something that just happens and it isn’t easy. It needs to be driven by a well thought through process by a brand that knows who their customers are, know what they want and know how to interact with them on a personal level to gain trust, engagement and their custom…. For the long haul!   

 

Sources:
http://www.inc.com/wendy-lea/new-rules-of-customer-engagement.html
 
http://www.tsys.com/thoughtLeadership/ngenuityInAction/current_issue/The-4-Ps-for-Customer-Engagement.cfm
http://eptica.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/whats-the-state-of-the-uk-customer-experience-8-key-findings/
www.johnlewis.com

Image: Sitecore UK

 

Whatever your business, be it a regional or global brand, the content you produce plays a vital role in your success. You know that… hence you’re reading this.

A well formulated and executed content strategy not only drives more traffic, at the core, it defines what your business is and helps build a strong connection between you and your audiences.

So let's quickly look at why developing a coherent content strategy is important and how setting clear goals and understanding your audience will elevate your online performance. 

What is a Content Strategy?

It's basic right? Content is at the core of how you define the way your business presents itself and an effective strategy should look to ensure that tone of voice, messaging and the core values are surfaced across all channels, from service or product pages on your website, to blog posts, through social media updates blah blah blah.

But let's keep it simple - your content strategy should be a clear roadmap that connects your marketing activities to your business goals. Align to your customer’s wants and needs and engage them at every interaction point and boom, you're in business. 

Who are my Audience?

You likely start all your projects with this chalked on the wall because your business knows “exactly” who its customers are right? Sounds obvious but we often find its not been done forensically enough (not based on data), is too old (more than 12 months ago - forget it) or its a spin off from some brand work that was legitimately aspirational but doesn’t face the reality of who you your business is actually engaging today.

So start (or circle back) with audience research, building out those personas to understand their ambitions, their lifestyle, their pain points or concerns, and crucially their wants and needs - in your context. 

Do I need to tailor content?

As part of your research find out where your audiences spend their time online and how they interact with content: Some may spend time thoroughly researching a product or service, whereas other audiences may want their content to be quick, snappy or easily digestible in the form of a video, infographic or short blog posts.

 

Ultimately, the key is to produce a strategy that creates the type of content your customers want to see:

  • What are the problems that your product or service will help them solve?

  • Who are they most influenced by?

  • What voices influence their behaviour?

  • What type of content do they consume?

  • Where do they consume content and engage with brands?

Different Content, Different Objectives

 All content is not born equal: When producing your strategy, it is important that the objectives for each individual piece are defined, that these fulfil your marketing objectives and tie to the overarching goals for your business.

There are various content frameworks that exist to aid content development in this way, but one that is popular and effective is Google’s hero, hub and hygiene method: It provides a framework on developing content to achieve different goals and gives guidance on the effort needed to create each type of content.

Hero Content

Hero content is essentially campaign content, it is big splash ideas designed to appeal to a large audience with the aim of telling your brand’s story at scale. 

Ways of measuring hero include the amount of PR mentions or links from authoritative domains plus social interactions and mentions of your brand across all channels. 

Considering the scale of hero campaigns, this content is not regularly produced and is reserved for peak promotional times where it’s important for a business to stand out from their competitors.

Hub Content

Hub content is the stuff that keeps your audience engaged, it expands on the themes of product or service level content, educates users and helps create a connection between themselves and your brand.

Hygiene Content

Hygiene content is the bread and butter of any website, it is the BAU content for products and services, it is SEO focused and targets important keywords at a product, service or guide level.

How do I manage all this?

Content development is only one part of the ongoing work needed when working with an effective content strategy. We call it “feeding the beast” because it really is the fuel in your brand vehicle and once you start you really can’t stop (if it’s delivering results) but that’s where performance measurement comes in.

Your greatest gift in managing the outputs from your hero/hub/hygiene style efforts is to understand If your content is working. To truly deliver results your business must first understand the objectives and goals of each piece of content to effectively measure its success. That as a guiding light from day 1 will let you slow down, speed up, stop or start new content briefs and projects.

Remember - content strategies are not set in stone. They are living breathing things and should adapt and pivot as insights become available and your brand naturally evolves.

If ever you want to chat content and explore new initiatives we’re always here to help.

want to speak to one of our experts?

 
Nick Towers
Nick Towers
Co-Founder & Joint CEO
Co-Founder, CEO and self-confessed massive geek, Nick has been in digital since graduating from law and moving into technology many years ago. Through a combination of building awesome client relationships, crafting a formidable team of digital experts and consistently delivering results for our clients Nick has taken Sagittarius from being a successful small agency to the global digital customer experience consultancy and Sitecore powerhouse that it is today.
Nick Towers

Nick Towers

19 Jul 2014 - 5 minute read
share this

stay in the know, stay ahead.

Get the latest from the agency, including news, events and expert content.
find out what we can do for you
read some of our case studies