Customer Satisfaction Overtakes Acquisition as Top Marketing Priority

The cost of acquisition is rising, and the always-connected customer expects more from brands. As a result, leading marketers are having to change the way they approach their roles. Chasing new customers is no longer the priority – instead, it’s about customer satisfaction, and understanding the overall customer journey.

According to the 2016 State of Marketing report by Salesforce Research, the marketer’s role has shifted from a primary focus on customer acquisition, to working instead with the broader business to enhance the customer experience at every touchpoint. In summary, marketing today is “more about building and sustaining customer relationships than merely filling the funnel.”

The report shows that high performing marketing teams are 8.8 times more likely than underperformers to strongly agree that they’ve adopted a customer journey strategy as part of their overall business strategy. 73% say that a customer journey strategy has positively impacted overall customer engagement. It’s becoming pretty clear that a short term view will only hurt marketing organisations in the long term!

Already, the most successful marketers are taking a leadership position amongst the executive team. This model makes so much sense – it lets the entire team share a common strategy for the customer journey, and better still, marketing has input into much more than just brand development and customer acquisition. It is actively helping to shape service delivery, sales and more. Silos crumble as teams work together in this way to perfect the customer experience.

A great local example of this is at Ivy College, a recent Australian start-up that offers online education to busy adult learners. Ivy College was ranked by BRW as the fourth most innovative company of 2015, and named Australia’s top medium-sized business for service excellence by the Customer Service Institute of Australia. These two awards are testimony to the company’s customer-centric approach that flips the traditional model of education and instead delivers the content that students need, when they need it. The approach taken by Ivy College’s marketing team – and the broader business, by the way – is consistently driving customer outcomes that lead to repeat business. There’s no ‘churn and burn’ – and that’s the key.

How other Australian marketers can catch up

It seems that Ivy College is the anomaly in Australia. The good news is, it doesn’t need to be. However, the 2016 State of Marketing report does reveal that Australian marketers have some work to do in catching up to overseas counterparts when it comes to customer experience. In Australia, the top marketing priority is brand awareness (37%), and the top marketing success measure is revenue growth (33%). Customer satisfaction comes in second at 29%.

More tellingly, only half of Australian marketers currently rate their ability to create personalised, omni-channel customer experiences across all business units as excellent or above average. So, what should these marketers prioritise in order to catch up and deliver on what customers today expect from companies?

1. Gain executive support

This new approach to marketing relies on executive support. As the report shows, the world’s best marketing teams have buy-in from company leaders, with 83% feeling confident of having their executive team’s complete commitment to the marketing strategy.

An iterative, agile approach is useful for gaining fast support and demonstrating quick wins; and you can build on these wins to gain even more support. As you gather buy-in momentum, you find yourself in a better position to make customer journeys an ongoing part of the business conversation, and to steer your large media and acquisition budgets away from strategies that deliver short-term pay-back to those that focus on customer satisfaction and long-term success.

2. Bring the customer into the centre of the planning process

Ensure that the customer is at the centre of all business decisions. This is easy to say, but hard to remember because it’s a behaviour change – a muscle you need to continually flex until it forms. Here’s my tip – adorn the walls with customer artefacts, journey maps, social interactions and more to bring the voice of the customer into every decision-making environment, across all business teams.

3. Break down entrenched silos through collaboration

To create a personalised, omni-channel customer experience, you need to work together with other departments within the business – from finance to sales to service. Factor them into every decision. Create a language around the customer that is used consistently across the entire business; and use technologies like Salesforce Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder to create 1-to-1 customer journeys and deliver a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints.

4. Lead the customer experience

Marketing has a great opportunity to lead the way here. Yet, it requires a rethinking of the metrics of success. While we can’t throw away revenue metrics, we can add to them. We can think through the customer journey to see which moments will impact revenue down the track – such as when the customer first unboxes and uses your product, lodges a claim, or needs to ask for help. Focus your team on the key moments of importance as viewed through the eyes of the customer, and get the broader business involved with this prioritisation. Remember, it only works when you’ve built a model of collaboration between departments.

5. Gain a single customer view

You’ve heard it a million times, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Technology is your biggest advantage. Technology plays a critical role in the new approach to nurturing the customer experience. Different groups within the business can take full advantage of having the same single view of the customer – or, the one source of truth – to shape better decisions and guide amazing customer interactions. As the report shows, high-performing marketers are 13.7 times more likely to have integrated business systems to create a single customer view.

Australian marketers have a great opportunity to raise the bar and really respond to customers’ growing demands for more personalised, relevant and meaningful interactions – simply by taking their eye off the acquisition of a single customer and turning their attention to building and growing customer journeys. Instead of pouring marketing budget down the drain of unsustainable search and social spend, a shift in thinking will see much more strategic allocation of marketing minds and dollars – for greater long-term results. Marketers, it’s easy when you know how.

Download the full 2016 State of Marketing Report HERE