In the world of marketing, being customer-centric doesn’t sound that revolutionary. For every campaign, success depends on how well it resonates with potential customers, so you’d be forgiven for assuming that all marketing is inherently customer-centric.
But it’s not that simple. Being truly customer-centric is about reverse-engineering your entire brand offering to fit the diverse needs of your customers. So it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture by asking a few key questions:
Does your brand tailor every part of its services to its customers?
Are your marketing campaigns personalized and set up to respond to different customer types?
Are your brand’s goals centered around customer success and satisfaction?
Is the relationship between your brand and its customers more than just a transactional one?
If — and only if — you’re answering “yes” to all of these questions can you truly say that you’re practicing customer-centric marketing.
And while there’s no quick fix, more and more brands are taking a closer look at their customers and redesigning their marketing strategy to fit more closely with their needs. It’s a move that all marketers should be considering. But before we continue, let’s spell out exactly what a customer-centric approach looks like.
What is Customer-Centric Marketing?
Customer-centric marketing is an overarching strategy that focuses on the needs of the customer and takes their experiences of the product, brand, and all promotional messages into account.
The goal of this strategy is to tailor every brand interaction to fit the customer’s needs or interests — to understand why your product or service is important to them and make sure it's fulfilling that purpose and fostering a healthy customer relationship.
Why is Customer-Centric Marketing Important?
This is a trend that moves away from the acquisition-focused approach that was largely driven by the expansion of internet use and alongside it, e-commerce. Now that growth has slowed, acquisition costs are rising, and for many markets, the times of prioritizing new customers over existing ones are coming to an end.
It now pays to foster loyalty, as repeat customers are 67% more likely to spend more — and the best way to do this is to put your customer at the heart of everything you do.
As technology continues to improve, the scope of what a customer-centric approach can achieve increases. Marketers can track a range of different data points and build increasingly granular segments that offer more relevant marketing content — while also relying on automation and AI to deliver highly personalized customer journeys.
It’s now entirely possible for two different customers to have vastly different experiences with the same brand, each tailored to fit their needs, interests, and buying habits. Whatsmore, the technology that enables this keeps improving.
So, it’s no surprise that customer-centricity is poised to be an important pillar for all marketing teams in the near future. Therefore, it makes sense to get ahead of the competition and get started now. But, how do you build a customer-centric marketing strategy from the ground up?
4 Steps for Building a Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy
Building a customer-centric marketing strategy can be a tall order. Unlike a purely acquisition-focused approach, all customer touchpoints are important, even those that come after transactions.
The goal is to build loyalty and, in order to do that, you need to reassess how your brand fits into your customers’ lives and then rebuild your offering around that. The rewards though can be huge, and companies that have a “customer-centric, data-driven marketing and sales platform improve marketing ROI by 15-20% or more.”
So here are 4 steps to building your customer-centric marketing strategy.
1. Get to Know Your Customers
It might seem obvious, but the single most important thing to focus on when building a customer-centric marketing strategy is understanding who your customers are, and how you can cater to their needs.
This is more than just understanding broad demographic characteristics and segmenting your customers accordingly (though this is important!) — it’s also about figuring out where your brand fits into your customers’ lives and what purpose your product or service fulfills? If you understand this, then you can work to improve your offering in the future.
But what’s the best method for finding out more about your customers? There’s a range of options available and sometimes it’s better to mix and match.
Here are the most important methods that you can use to learn more about your customers:
Talk directly with your customers:
Conducting focus groups, setting up one-on-one interviews with your customers, or simply asking for feedback after a purchase — these are all straightforward ways to learn more about the people who use your product or services.
Furthermore, these methods will give you direct insights into the reasons your customers choose your brand over others and how it integrates into their lives. Speak to enough customers and you might get a picture of how interactions with your brand can vary for different groups.
However, while interviews allow you to glean specific insights that you might otherwise miss, it’s important to remember that anything you discover only represents a tiny fraction of your total audience — and while anecdotal feedback like this can be useful, it’s better if your process is backed up by data.
Use Brand Tracking Software:
Latana’s brand tracking software allows you to see how your brand is perceived by both the general population and your target audiences. It’s a great tool for measuring the health of your brand and gathering a range of insights across larger groups, including those that don’t necessarily interact much with your brand at the moment.
The insights you can gain from brand tracking include what positive or negative associations your brand has, whether consumers have a preference for your brand or another, or simply how aware they are of your offering.
By tracking your performance over time, you can see whether you’re heading in the right direction as you make changes to your marketing strategy.
Check-in with your customer support or sales teams:
The experiences of those in customer-facing roles can be vital in learning more about your customers and figuring out the changes you need to make in order to better cater to them.
Your customer support and sales teams likely deal with hundreds of inquiries a day, so it’s no surprise that they’ll be one of the best-placed teams for spotting patterns and identifying common questions or pain points. On top of this, they may also have an awareness of the things you’re already doing that help achieve customer satisfaction.
Utilize your own data:
Your own data will likely host a wealth of valuable insights about buying habits and customer behavior that can be used to improve your customer experience. For a long time now, Amazon has utilized its data to offer personalized recommendations based on the buying habits of all its customers, a feature that many e-commerce companies have since adopted. When it was first implemented for its bookstore, Amazon noticed an immediate “uptick in sales” as customers were directed towards “books that they might not otherwise have found.”
It’s not just about upselling though. The goal here is to spot habits and trends that can then inform you on the best ways to add value to your offering. Recommending relevant products or bundling items together might bring in extra revenue, but it also makes a more efficient shopping experience — allowing the customer to get everything they need in one easy purchase.
2. Invest in Customer-Centric Infrastructure
Regardless of what you discovered in your research, you’ll know that your customers are not a homogeneous group but a diverse and sometimes disparate bunch. Investing in a platform that allows you to deliver different types of content to all of them, depending on where they are at in their customer journey, is vital.
An important part of setting up this infrastructure is figuring out exactly how to segment your user base. Not all characteristics are important to all brands, so while some may find it useful to segment their customers based on geographic location for example, for others this won’t be important at all. However, the more precise your segmentation, the more options you have to cater to a wider range of customer types.
Establishing customer personas is also a tried and tested method of making sense of the different data sets you have on your customers. Personas are useful because they force you to join the dots between demographic characteristics, user behavior, and the insights gleaned from your customer research.
The result is a hypothetical model customer who personifies a specific set of needs, interests, and behaviors that you can then use to inform your marketing activities.
3. Optimize Every Customer Touchpoint
Once you have identified your customers’ key characteristics, figured out what their needs are, and set yourself up to process this data — your next step is to map out all the different types of customer journeys that exist for your brand and consider all the possible interactions each of your different segments might need.
Once you’ve done this, you can begin to re-design those touchpoints around the insights you gained from your research.
For example, perhaps you’ve discovered that new customers need better onboarding to keep them from churning after their first purchase or trial period — or maybe a segment simply wants to book quickly from their phones but your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices.
Perhaps some of your email newsletter subscribers are more interested in blogs and engaging content while others simply want news on the latest offers. There are myriad ways to re-design each touchpoint so that it adds to an overall positive customer experience.
The most important thing to remember is that your brand is represented by all of your company’s different parts and your marketing strategy should join them all up to make a consistent whole. This includes everything from paid ads to your social media presence to the product itself to customer support.
The best method is to review the entire customer journey and make sure every touchpoint is tailored to your customers’ needs.
4. Review the Data and Iterate
As with any marketing strategy, this entire process should form a feedback loop. Once you’ve made changes to your customer touchpoints and implemented a customer-centric approach, it’s vital that you continue to collect feedback so that you can gauge whether your changes have been successful or not.
When Coca-Cola released “new coke’” in 1985, the new formula was one selected from preferred taste tests of nearly 200,000 consumers. But these tests overlooked the “bond consumers felt with their Coca-Cola” and after a very vocal backlash, the company decided to re-release the original.
But not all consumers are as vocal as soda fans and, while you might make changes with the best of intentions, it’s best to review the data to see if you're heading in the right direction. Brands that regularly check in with their customers will always be the first to detect changes in consumer behavior and adapt their services — ensuring that they stay ahead of the competition.
As marketers’ ability to segment their audiences becomes ever more granular, the real arms race between brands will revolve around just how customer-centric their services can be.
By ensuring that you’re listening to your customers, figuring out how your brand fits into their life, and tailoring your offering around that, your brand can gain an edge over the competition.
Want more on customer centricity? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Customer Centricity.