A new wave of business disruption means brands should focus on joyful experiences

When brands create positive interactions for customers, they gain a myriad of long-lasting business benefits. But in a data-heavy world with disjointed tech platforms, many businesses have lost sight of how to create the human touch

In today’s digital era, companies are being deluged by data and analytical tools. This means there is often a painful mismatch between the information they rely on and the brand experiences their customers need across different channels. At the same time, as the global economy experiences turbulence, business leaders need to unlock new areas of growth through modern customer activation strategies.

Across industries, PwC research shows nearly six in 10 consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human elements of customer experience, and businesses are trying to turn the situation around. It is clear that joyful experiences lead to stronger conversion rates, lower churn and higher customer lifetime values. 

Emotionally connected customers provide twice as much lifetime value to companies than those who are highly satisfied, according to Harvard Business Review. Crucially, such connected customers exhibit less price sensitivity, are more engaged with brand communications and buy more often.

Companies are being held back in their change efforts by several core factors. “The first problem for many businesses is that they have become stuck in the information. Despite massive innovation in data warehouses, analytics tools and data standardisation, the tech is generally not built for the creation of joyful experiences,” says Adriana Gil Miner, chief marketing officer at the customer activation platform Iterable.

Brands have also seen the customer engagement landscape shift endlessly as the variety of channels used, from websites to apps, emails to social media sites, expands. For many brands, the struggle to convert the mass of data points on these different channels into desirable experiences is a problem that has worsened as customers expect ever more from digital interactions following two years of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the digital acceleration, each brand channel has gone from complementing the brand experience to being the brand experience,” explains Gil Miner. “Companies have treated every channel as its own world, with its own rules, capabilities and data. This is a mistake. No matter the channel, it is the same customer wanting to experience the same brand.”

This mismatched effort has been exacerbated by a growing array of corporate systems. Legacy technology, built before the advent of smartphones, has led many marketers to assume their customer relationship management technology cannot be updated to meet their changed needs. 

As a result, so-called ‘frankenstacks’ of solutions used for different purposes are being piled on top of each other, resulting in what is, in effect, a monstrosity of technology that fails to unite. Such is the level of confusion that a Gartner study shows only 58% of marketers’ tech capabilities is normally used.

“This unhealthy scenario means it is nearly impossible for those brands to create joyful, relevant experiences,” Gil Miner notes. “Without that positive emotional connection wherever the customer is, there is low retention, decreased customer engagement and lost revenue.”

There are far better ways to go about creating joyful experiences. They involve moving towards harmonised, individualised and dynamic communications with customers. This means interactions must be cross-channel and coordinated across all touchpoints, from marketing promotions to customer service and transactional communications. 

Brands also need to better predict and anticipate customer needs by using data and AI to deliver highly-personalised communications. Lastly, brands must approach marketing with a service mentality of always-on, adaptive journeys, so they rapidly adapt to customer behaviour and changing preferences.

Without a positive emotional connection wherever the customer is, there is low retention, decreased customer engagement and lost revenue

“This should be a top priority for brands and the first step is trading in the disparate legacy systems,” explains Gil Miner. “Then they can move to cloud-based, flexible, no-code and automated tools, which draw in data from multiple sources, in a privacy-compliant manner and enable effective experiences to be orchestrated across channels.”

Such consistently positive brand experience across every channel is particularly important given that 83% of emotionally engaged customers want multiple ways to interact with the companies they buy from, according to Capgemini research. 

Simultaneously, personalising those interactions is essential given eight in 10 highly emotionally engaged consumers expect brands to know their individual preferences. Meanwhile, experiences can be made more dynamic, a crucial step given that McKinsey research shows 59% of consumers expect timely communications from brands at key moments.

Marketing technology leaders are abandoning best-of-breed approaches en masse in favour of single vendors with interconnected, integrated stack capabilities. Many are turning to the Iterable system, which is a customer activation platform that delivers unified customer experiences and allows users to create, optimise and measure every interaction across entire customer journeys. Marketing professionals use the intuitive interface for cross-channel journey orchestration across email, mobile, text message and web, with flexibility and scalability, and AI that understands users holistically to inform powerful decision-making.

Among those using Iterable are the makers of the mental health brand Calm, which can now systematically engage millions of customers on an individual level while adapting to the ebbs and flows of customers’ stress levels during these uncertain times. Meanwhile, Fiit, a UK-based subscription fitness app offering on-demand workout classes, uses Iterable to test push email and in-app content to boost its conversions of free trials to subscriptions. 

Elsewhere, Spain-based Dgtl Fundraising uses Brand Affinity, an intelligent personalisation solution powered by Iterable AI, to identify and segment potential donors based on cross-channel engagement signals.

Businesses face growing expectations from customers, who they must positively engage via an ever-expanding and increasingly complex array of channels. Given companies’ disparate systems, masses of data, limited resources and enormous pressure to make key marketing campaigns deliver success, many are turning to automated, future-ready systems that deliver consistently joyful experiences across channels. This move will be essential to them capturing and retaining highly valuable customers.

To find out more about the consistent creation of joyful experiences for customers, visit iterable.com/thetimes

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