5 innovative marketing strategies – mapped along the customer journey

Some brands see the omnichannel marketing challenge before them and quake in fear. Others are crushing it. We’ll focus on the latter. 

Mapping the best of these efforts along the customer journey demonstrates how important timing and trust are when planning, implementing and optimizing digital strategy. Be not afraid.

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1 – First things first, does anyone know who you are? / AWARENESS

Breaking through the clutter is tough, but when you can leverage new technology to spark an innovative form of brand engagement, it’s a good thing. Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff did exactly that when the highly popular brand created a VR based runway show, complete with a Rebecca Minkoff branded cardboard viewer. 

Through commoditizing access to the brand, this strategy brings what was previously reserved for fashion royalty, to the regulars. This also reflects a larger trend of fashion designers eschewing the “status quo fashion show” and going direct to consumers.

 

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2 – Building trust is all about knowing what matters most, and delivering it. / CONSIDERATION

Millennials are known for their passion around sustainability, including things like knowing where products come from. Amazon is speaking directly to that need with Amazon Elements, a tool that allows customers to track items from creation to expiration through the Amazon app.

The more comfortable people are with all aspects of your product, the more likely they are to make a purchase – a critical next step in the customer journey.

 

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3 – Once they know you, and believe in you, it’s time to make the sale. / PURCHASE

Instacart and All Recipes teamed up to make sales happen faster and at greater value. Customers can add an entire recipe’s ingredients to Instacart from AllRecipes in one click. The strategy adds more value collectively than either brand could have alone. 

This solution drives revenue and allows both Instacart and Allrecipes to bask in the glow of delighted customers. Customers use a matrix of brands in their daily life, understanding which ones they love and exploring partnerships, shows you understand them, and know how to make their lives better.

 

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4 – Welcome to the honeymoon phase. Sale is made. Everyone is happy – until they’re not. / ADVOCATE

Sooner or later you hit the “What have you done for me lately?” problem. Best advice is to act before customers even ask the question. Patagonia picked up on their customer’s passion for the brand and rolled out a pickup truck destined to tour the nation on an apparel mending mission.

This strategy puts Patagonia face to face with customers, reinforces the brand messaging that they stand behind their products, and creates social media value through sparking conversations online, and on the road.

 

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5 – No one knows your brand better than your best customers. / INNOVATE

Customers who love your brand are much more likely to help you grow. MIT professor Eric Von Hippel led the research that popularized the “lead-user” approach that engages customers who care deeply about the brand to co-create new product ideas. I’ve personally seen this strategy work well with CPG brand clients testing new product concepts.

Brandy Melville is a top fashion brand for teenage girls taking a similar approach. The brand (with 3.3 million Instagram followers) has a team of about 20 “Brandy Girls” who “work paid shifts in the back room of the brand’s Santa Monica store, where they brainstorm new concepts and consult on existing ones,” according to Racked.com.

“Let’s say there’s a cut of a T-shirt that’s doing really well, they’ll ask our opinion on it. Do we like it? Should we make more? If so, what colors?” – Kjerstin Skorge, a 16-year-old from Malibu

Strategically, mapping marketing strategy against each stage of the customer journey helps to more effectively transform browsers into buyers, and buyers into innovators. Increasingly in client projects we’re using the customer journey as a timeline to map messaging against, and it’s been an invaluable process for stronger conversions and recall.

 

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Driving revenue – it’s all about the journey

Popbox Digital Customer Journey

 

Every customer interaction sparks a data point that brands can learn from. 

CMOS, agencies and brand managers are now mapping these insights against the customer journey as a strategy to drive conversions and deepen brand loyalty. Fine tuning the signal-to-noise ratio is the tough part.

Three trends are converging to help brands know what to focus on including: rising value of customer service data, context driving conversions, and the rising importance of customer journey mapping in a channel and device agnostic world.

Call centers get more respect

As a source of brand engagement data that quite literally defines the customer experience, call centers top the list. The speed and efficacy of customer service in most organizations will improve significantly in the next few years powered by more customer-centric algorithms. 

The push to a customer-obsessed model is quite real according to Forrester Research and can bring measurable ROI. Insights that improve critical touchpoints benefit the entire organization. 2016 will likely be the year consumer brands start diving a little deeper here.

“In 2016, the gap between customer-obsessed leaders and laggards will widen. Leaders will tackle the hard work of shifting to a customer-obsessed operating model; laggards will aimlessly push forward with flawed digital priorities and disjointed operations. ” – FORRESTER RESEARCH

Customer experiences will be further enhanced as tools like IBM’s Watson Engagement Advisor, that uses natural language and understands context, get smarter with each use. 

 

Context drives conversations, conversations drive conversions

Given the rise in content marketing, the time, place and tone in which messaging is delivered is even more critical. Understanding “mobile moments” in context allows for the right content to reach the right person at the right time.

Since the ultimate test of context is conversation – Facebook’s new digital concierge service called M is spot-on for how Millennials want to engage with brands.

Guided by David Marcus, Messenger flew past the 800 million user mark in 2015, adding real time customer service integration for firms like FedEx, Everlane and the USPS. The notion of “conversation as interface” has many brands re-thinking how they engage and serve customers. Messaging platforms like Snapchat and What’sApp will expand their efforts towards brand engagement. Emerging media like Periscope will enter the mix more often in 2016, especially for entertainment and youth brands. 

Artifical intelligence offerings like Amy, a digital assistant birthed by impressive NYC startup, X.ai and bot platforms built on messaging apps like Telegram are powered by context seeking algorithims. Mark Zuckerberg has another dog in this fight, he’s racing to build a real world version of Iron Man’s sidekick, Jarvis. The race for human-like engagement across channels is on – so make sure your brand can carry a conversation.

Customer journey mapping becomes foundational for marketing

Customer journey mapping is not new, but when powered by a range of emerging mobile and social data points, the tool is more powerful than ever – especially for brands seeking rapid growth.

The process starts with mapping and optimizing marketing efforts for each phase of the customer journey (i.e. Awareness, Consideration, Decision, Influence). Messaging must then be mapped by channel and synchronized to drive conversions along the path to purchase. A/B testing creative along the customer journey speeds optimization.

In 2016 we expect advertisers to map marketing contexts to an integrated consumer journey so that sales and brand-building content complement rather than compete with each other. – Duncan Southgate, global brand director for Digital at Millward Brown

At each of the four stages, customer journey maps outline actions, motivations, questions and barriers to overcome in the path to purchase. Knowing what prospects are thinking, and targeting creative by stage, drives higher conversions and customer lifetime value.

Insight driven efforts to improve the customer experience will be a growing narrative in 2016. Brands taking the extra step of optimizing their messaging along the customer journey are likely to lead in revenue and innovate ahead of the competition.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

Lyft customers are nicer than Uber customers, what’s brand got to do with it?

Every Lyft driver I rode with mentioned it, “Lyft customers are much nicer than Uber customers.” They’re not sure why, but the attitudes are miles apart.

Most also drive for Uber so they would know, and regardless of city they say the same thing. What then, does it say about the brands themselves?

The drivers I spoke with in the NYC area and Boston describe Uber customers as being rude, demanding, and full of complaints. Is it Uber’s infamous surge pricing practices that put customers on the defensive? If so, should Uber tell its customers to “Uber-have?”

Drivers said Uber customers make them feel “like a second class citizen”, saying they are “angry and bossy”, and often leave “a mess of food and drinks.” One driver even mentioned an Uber customer who brought a huge dog into her tiny car, while another started polishing her nails — fumes on high.

Lyft customers go the other way. Drivers say most are “extremely considerate” and “pleasant to deal with.” One driver said she feels safer when customers are happier, “when there’s no stress in the air, we lower our chance of an accident.” A recent tweet by a Lyft driver goes a bit further:

“I PICKED UP A PASSENGER AND WE GOT ALONG SO WELL WE ENDED UP GRABBING DINNER. I LOVE PEOPLE!”

But that’s the odd part, the service between Uber and Lyft is the same. Exactly the same. Same car, same driver. Same same. So why the difference in disposition?

Are Uber customers reflecting back on the brand they’ve come to know and be wary of? Mistrust has been known to put a damper on budding relationships. Perhaps it’s Lyft’s pink moustache of days gone by that inspires more smiles more than scowls. Or, maybe it’s how the brands approach new customers. The homepages of Uber and Lyft provided some direction.

Uber.com has rotating images at the top, most of which target new drivers — not riders. Lyft.com is all about the customer, and makes it easy to get a car with a dead simple form. Competitive brands like Gett are coming up fast with a solid product, growing market share and global ambitions.

In a sector where disruption is the norm, both Uber and Lyft need to keep their eyes on the road – and in the rear view mirror. Smart underdogs like Gett have a history of blowing past the status quo.

Bigger picture implications? Brands not 100% customer-obsessed (especially those in the competitive segment of transportation) should hit the brakes and get ready to make a u-turn.

Anthony Cospito is Managing Director of Popbox Digital 

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