Building Strong Consumer Ties Is Easier Said Than Done

Consumers switch platforms up to 27 times an hour, yet they demand relevance and coherence in every interaction with brands. Now, in order to develop real customer engagement, brands must deliver great seamless experiences across channels using intelligence, technology and data to build relationships that grow stronger over time, according to research conducted by Publicis Groupe's Rosetta Consulting.

If brands are not combining all of these elements to form a single cohesive strategy that delivers mutual value, they are likely to lose consumers entirely.

"The customer relationship is no longer driven by brands," says Nicholas Hahn, managing partner, Rosetta Consulting. "The power has shifted to the consumer. It used to be when you bought a car, you haggled with the dealer who knew more about the price than you did. Now, you go to the lot knowing exactly how much that car is worth and how much someone paid for that car down the street. It has made the job of marketers more difficult.”

Fully engaged customers are worth more to the brand—they generate 23% more in revenue and profit than an average customer, reports Rosetta.

Yet, today’s business leaders struggle to clearly define customer engagement, how to achieve it, or how to measure its value. To that end, 78% of marketers list "customer satisfaction” as one of the top two terms they would use to describe the goal of their company’s customer strategy; only 33% cite “customer engagement."

Nearly half of marketers (47%) emphasize the importance of marketing tactics or business processes from the brand perspective, and an additional 40% focus only on the customer experience. Only 13% recognize the importance of combining both the brand and consumer perspective in terms of engagement.

The lack of cohesive engagement hurts the bottom line.

Some 86% of brands that have strong customer engagement practices saw an increase in the previous year's revenue, compared to only half of brands with average consumer engagement outreach. In fact, strong performers were 2.2 times more likely than others to have experienced an increase in market share in the past year.

Brands must constantly reevaluate their interactions with consumers. What matters to shoppers today may be different tomorrow. Two in three marketers that have developed strong customer engagement practices (68%) report continual refinement of their communications plan based on customer data and marketing results. Plus, strong performers are 3.8 times more likely than others to say that they are able to identify where each customer is on the customer journey and are six times more likely than others to leverage real-time data to customize marketing efforts.

Ultimately, brands need to recognize that it is not enough to simply collect information about consumers or mass advertise their value, the study asserts. Rather everything filters into an integrated ecosystem that interprets shoppers' spending and behaviors in real-time in ways that truly benefit consumers, not just drive profitability for the brand.

"We have to act in real time and operate nimbly across a complex, hyper-connected landscape using targeted and personalized offerings based on customer attitudes, buying habits, life stages and specific moments on customer journeys,” said Hahn. "Pampers’ value proposition is no longer about diapers keeping baby's butts dry, but about helping mom with the development of her kid. That’s a much more meaningful relationship."

Rosetta's research, which can be downloaded here, examined 87 marketers’ approaches to creating engaging experiences for their customers, as well as the increased value engagement delivered to the bottom line. Each company was assessed on a broad range of best practice areas, including culture, capabilities, data and insights, measurement, strategy and technology. Companies scoring in the top third of the sample were designated “strong performers.” Industries included healthcare, financial services, consumer goods, technology, retail, food and beverage, and hospitality.

Next, Rosetta Consulting will release a report about customers about their experiences and what they value when interacting with a brand, and later this year, the agency will introduce a third paper that combines the perspectives of both marketers and consumers to quantify the value of delivering customer engagement.

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