Happy Valentine's Day! Today is the international day for celebrating love, or at least the day for love offerings. Naturally, I'm inspired to write about ways marketers can spark and nurture feelings of love in their customers, and for that there are valuable lessons to be had in looking at personal relationships.
While "love" in a customer relationship is not the same as in a personal relationship, I do think there are elements of personal relationships that can be useful to consider in a commercial context. My main reason for that thinking is because purchase decisions are made by individuals - even in a B2B setting. The purchase happens because the offering fits a need, and affinity develops over time because some key aspect of the offering fulfills a need repeatedly.
All relationships begin with a connection. Perhaps its momentary or fleeting - an exchanged glance or a smile. For marketers, it can be as simple as showing up in an online search result, or a click-through to your landing page.
Google has posited the ZMOT - zero moment of truth - as a digital-era reinterpretation of Procter & Gamble's First Moment of Truth to describe your customers' first experiences with your brand. In the Google ZMOT, the first experience a customer has with your brand is likely one that is online. The concept is a great way to sell search advertising, but it's also likely true.
That initial connection grows when the parties perceive interest or value of some sort and then it blossoms into something beyond the fleeting. The glance may become a double-take or simply saying "hello" with a smile and a twinkle in the eye. Pleasantries are exchanged and suddenly a conversation begins. For customers, the click becomes a conversion and grows from there. They come back for some additional information, or they accept your suggestion to learn more or to follow up. Perhaps they engage your contact center in online chat - no matter what, the courtship dance has begun.
The pinnacle of a personal relationship is one in which the parties have regular contact, share details and experiences that are often exclusive and intimate, and they become protective of each other. The most valuable customer relationship is one that's evolved into advocacy. In that case, the customer is so happy with your organization that they not only have an affinity or preference, they become an a brand evangelist. That highest level of customer relationship is reached by deliberately cultivating shared experiences. Or, as best-selling author and digital antropologist Brian Solis puts it, by creating experiences that are worthy of sharing.
We are living in the era of the connected customer - one in which normal customer behavior is to capture moments and share it - in near real-time. Customers are living a lifestyle that's digital and increasingly mobile, which is changing their mindsets and behaviors. More than ever before, our customers are informed and empowered, and are coming to expect personalization and quicker responses. So the stakes for finding and fostering a connection with customers are increasingly digital and data-driven.
In that regard, marketing analytics plays a central role in the connection that evolves into customer love. It's predicting outcomes and preferences, orchestrating real-time interactions that are relevant and personalized, and fostering the meaningful relationships that turn your customers into brand evangelists.
Want to learn more? Reach out and let us know -we'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, I love the fact that you're following this blog. Thank you!