Day 3 at #CNX15: OK, So You Know Your Customer. But Now What?

 Here’s the thing about customer success, customer experience, and the customer journey: once you say it enough times, it doesn’t mean anything.

At Salesforce Connections 2015, the phrase “customer success” was repeated so often that there was a real risk the phrase became more punctuation than anything else. While the keynote from Salesforce President Keith Block offered intense, space-themed videos beckoning marketers to rethink everything – especially the customer journey – the one piece I thought was missing was the next step.

Let’s say you know exactly who your customer is. You know what they tweet, the kinds of content they like, their product history, and what might prompt them to take action.

But now what? If you don’t come up with extremely compelling content that leads to a great customer experience, all that data is just going to help you create personalized messaging that still gets deleted.

The Content Centerpiece  

In brick-and-mortar stores, owners and employees have known their regular customers for a long time. Sometimes, that doesn’t help. Your customers aren’t always ready to make a purchase and they don’t always want to hear from you or hear about your products.

You can use customer data to send a sales email or call a prospect at the right time and right place, but if the message still has more to do with what you’re selling than what they need at that moment, there’s a high chance of failure.

The real risk, given all these data analytics platforms, is that marketers will be sitting on top of extremely valuable customer data and then resorting to stale marketing tactics as usual.

If you walked through the Cloud Expo at Connections, there was one trend among the vendors: emphasize the great power of data collection and analytics.

But the power to do what?

It’s the customer experience that matters first and foremost, not personalization. And a great customer experience doesn’t always mean a transaction.

Using Data to Make Marketing Less Annoying & More Useful

Salesforce Connections 2015 emphasized that marketers have a golden opportunity to reinvent the customer experience and become customer-centric.

Being customer-centric means treating your customers like individual people. It means selling them what they need when they need it and giving them something interesting and engaging when they don’t.

This kind of contextual content marketing is just getting started. Nickeloden put it to good use through an email that detected weather in real-time. Recipients who were experiencing a snow day got snow day messaging and a snow day activity pack, no strings attached. By offering something valuable to their audience, the brand improved click-throughs by 75%. 

Marketers need to remember that, despite the hype, data is the tool, not the solution. And to use the tool the right way, you have to use it for engagement, not just better-informed sales.

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