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Customer-Centric Marketing: Putting the Customer at the Core

The contemporary consumer increasingly demands a fully personalised, seamless purchase experience. In response, industry leaders are deploying customer-centric marketing strategies.

A customer-centric marketing approach empowers marketers to target particular customer segments with greater accuracy, allowing them to adapt communications to each segment’s particular affinities, preferences, and behaviours. As a result, businesses can deliver marketing content to the right customer, through the right channel and at the right time.

According to the American Marketing Association, companies can develop a more distinctive, desirable brand by analysing customer-centric metrics against brand perceptions. This approach will not only drive customer acquisition but also retention. However, customer centricity should not be confined to marketing departments; it should permeate every level of the organisation. Here, we cover the basics of customer-centric marketing and how this approach can benefit business long term.

What is customer-centric marketing?

Customer-centric marketing places the individual at the centre of communication design and distribution. This stems from the assertion that every customer is unique. Through this realisation, businesses can move beyond dated, inflexible marketing strategies. For instance, product-centric marketing optimises the sales of a particular offer above all others. To illustrate, a clothes retailer may be promoting floral dresses – but what if Gemma, 24, from Bristol, prefers stripes? Equally, channel-centric marketing overemphasises channel metrics. So, for example, Gemma may notice a sponsored post about a stripy dress on Instagram, but never likes or clicks through. Instead, she goes directly to the website to make the purchase. As a result, the channel metrics do not reflect her engagement, despite the fact that the conversion was made.

Essentially, these more traditional marketing approaches limit opportunities to synthesise detailed customer insights. Therefore, businesses have to develop a marketing plan that acknowledges that different consumers require different communications. Working from the affirmation that there is no such thing as the ‘average’ customer, businesses can create more agile, responsive marketing content. By adopting a customer-centric marketing strategy, businesses can build brand awareness; attract new customers; drive sales, and foster long-term engagement that promotes return custom.

Why is a customer-centric marketing approach so important?

Adopting a customer-centric marketing strategy is increasingly urgent as consumers become more sophisticated. This is particularly the case in B2B markets, as Baby Boomers exit the workforce and millennials take post. Now, these tech-savvy, ultra-connected professionals are calling the shots – and businesses need to adapt. For instance, our 24-year-old case study, Gemma, is unlikely to be taken in by clichéd straplines or cold calls. Born in 1994, Gemma can barely remember a time before the Internet; therefore, she is accustomed to instantaneous, relevant and highly engaging communications.

Like 84% of her peers, she distrusts traditional advertising and is more likely to be swayed by inbound content. For example, the reason she purchased the aforementioned stripy dress was that it was modelled by one of her favourite Instagram influencers. Equally, she’s far more inclined to trust user-generated content like Google reviews and TripAdvisor. Therefore, as this demographic gains more purchasing power, it is imperative that businesses alter their approach to suit their demands.

What are the benefits that this strategy brings to a business?

The benefits of a customer-centric marketing strategy are clear. Customer centricity promotes brand loyalty, which drives profit. Research suggests that a loyal customer is worth up to ten times as much as a single purchase. Furthermore, experts estimate that it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain one. This is even more pronounced when it comes to customer satisfaction; a happy existing customer is 14 times more receptive to making a purchase than a new customer.

Furthermore, as inbound marketing and user-generated content gain more clout, reputation is more important than ever. A customer-centric strategy ensures positive reviews, recommendations, and even organic social media exposure. In addition, customer centricity will benefit your employees. When the customer is at the core of business operations, friction between frontline staff and clientele is reduced – making their jobs more enjoyable and satisfying.

The challenges of adopting a customer-centric marketing strategy

However, there are challenges when it comes to implementing a customer-centric marketing strategy. These obstacles are twofold: firstly, a customer-centric ethos needs to extend beyond customer services across all operational functions. That is, a customer-centric approach demands a complete overhaul of company culture, as it is critical that staff switch focus from stats to service. Therefore, an obstacle you are likely to encounter is organisational buy-in. As a result, leadership needs to devise policies and protocols to encourage employees to integrate customer centricity into every action.

Despite the ‘service, not stats’ imperative, the second key challenge is data. Detailed data analysis is central to customer-centric marketing and companies need to ensure they have the right analytic capabilities. Without robust data, it is almost impossible for companies to construct accurate customer profiles. This is particularly crucial as device proliferation makes it trickier to pinpoint your customer. To illustrate, we return to our case study, Gemma. Although Gemma saw the dress on her smartphone, she made the purchase on her laptop. As such, the clothes retailer needs sophisticated data capture tools to develop an accurate customer profile across device usage. Without this, marketing content will be deployed inaccurately. For example, remarketing tools may continue to advertise the dress on Gemma’s phone, despite the fact that she has already converted.

How to refine your approach

Even though talk of complete organisational overhaul and re-booting IT infrastructure may seem intimidating, marketers shouldn’t be scared off. In essence, there are three keys to refining your company’s customer-centric strategy. We recommend building from the ground up, starting with operations and expanding into the marketing content. Here’s how to get the ball rolling:

  • Gather data. To create unique customer profiles, companies need to build their data lake. Therefore, they need to consolidate all data into a single accessible store. However, you should not confine this initiative to the four walls of the organisation; it should extend to vendors and third parties.
  • Integrate channels. Today, an omnichannel marketing presence is essential. Therefore, businesses need to make sure the customer experience is consistent across every channel, delivering excellent service at every touchpoint. Therefore, it is crucial that digital marketing teams have a productive dialogue with frontline employees.
  • Optimise your communications. As discussed, businesses need intelligent remarketing tools to make sure none of their efforts are wasted. Here, the process comes full circle; informed by robust datasets, companies can deploy effective marketing tools. With dynamic, creative content, businesses can ensure their communications are relevant, timely and engaging.

Overall, these three steps promote greater understanding of the customer. Through a comprehensive overview of their desires, demands and behaviours, companies can optimise marketing efforts and drive sales.

Customer centricity: Real relationships and tangible results

In summary, customer centricity is about delivering the highest quality products and services. As a result, consumers develop meaningful relationships with the brand. This drives repeat custom, reputability, and ultimately, profit. According to a study by Deloitte, companies with a customer-centric outlook were 60% more profitable than their competitors. Despite the corporate transformation required, adopting a customer-centric strategy isn’t just rewarding, it’s crucial to today’s commerce landscape. The result will be satisfied, loyal customers; reduced overheads; increased revenue; and that all-important glowing reputation.

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