In the age of Amazon, personalization that stops at “Dear [FirstName]” doesn’t cut it anymore. Customers know that marketers have the potential to create great personalized content, so expectations are higher than ever. It’s our job, as marketers, to meet — and exceed — those expectations.
Customers now expect personalized content and they want it in realtime. This is a challenge for marketers. In our State of the Connected Customer report, Salesforce found that real-time engagements are marketers’ number one priority and number one challenge to execute.
So, how can marketers meet this challenge and create personalized engagements that are convincing and authentic, all in realtime? To deliver authentic, rewarding, and timely personalization, it’s important to treat the customer like a friend.
Here’s how to create personalized engagement by cultivating customer friendships.
Start with friendship
According to Psychology Today, most friendships share four common characteristics: common interests, history, common values, and equality. Building a relationship should be a priority for any marketer and connecting on these levels will help you build one that will last.
Of course, every friendship or relationship starts with getting to know each other — there are many steps between the first date and taking someone to meet your parents. And that’s where listening comes in, taking your relationship from point A to point B, and hopefully to the ultimate marketing relationship goal — purchase. By listening to customers, you learn what they need and how you can help.
Pace your conversation
You’ve probably been to a dozen conference sessions or seminars where audience members are asked to raise their hand if they’ve taken a certain action, possess a certain attribute, or work in a certain industry. It may not feel like a full conversation, but this simplified form of listening helps the speaker learn about the audience and even make real-time adjustments in their tone, content, or approach.
In practice, human conversation balances the pace of question-and-answer over a long period of time. True conversation involves a unique balance of recency and history that allows us to enjoy a conversational journey with friends — extending far beyond simple ‘yes or no’ questions.
By listening to the conversations customers are already having, we can improve our own conversations with each of them. This informed view helps marketers connect customer experiences more deeply than ever before.
Take the next step
In marketing, we talk a lot about “next-best offers,” but we often overlook the most important word in that phrase: next. Next is about looking forward. If we’re trying to offer customers what they want next, why do so many brands see customers as single actions or most recent purchases? If you bought a pair of boots last weekend, it’s likely that ads for those same boots now follow you around the internet.
By painting a full customer journey and seeing the customer-retailer relationship as a friendship and a conversation, brands are better equipped to take into consideration all of a customer’s needs. Like a friend, understanding your coming needs means helpful ads for more gear for an upcoming trip to Yosemite, instead of just another boot ad.
It’s important for marketers to remember that customers are more than their last purchases. People are complex, and we should see them as such. The next-best conversation may not be the same conversation you just had. The real next-best conversation takes into account a customer’s stage in the journey for every conversation topic that your brand might engage them in.
It all comes back to listening. If you had a friend that kept asking you the same question every day — even though you answered the same each time — you’d realize pretty quickly that they weren’t listening to you at all. How long would it take for you to start reconsidering the friendship entirely?
When you serve up repetitive ads that don’t take into account the customer’s needs, you’re acting blindly in your brand’s interest — and that’s not a conversation or a friendship. Your brand’s true interest should be in what your customers really want from you and how you can give it to them.
The right marketing tools can enhance your ability to communicate with the pace and nuance of genuine human conversation. When you listen to and respond to customers over time, you’ll broaden your friendship, explore common interests, and appreciate your journey together.
Salesforce builds friendships
Marketing Cloud helps you listen to customers and create authentic conversations that matter to them. It’s purpose-built to help you grow customer relationships based on friendship — building trust, equality, and mutually-beneficial value through true listening.
Join our webinar, Harnessing The Power of Moments Within The Customer Experience, to learn how you can build better customer friendships with Marketing Cloud.