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How to Craft a Successful Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy

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How to Craft a Successful Customer-Centric Marketing Strategy

When was the last time a business fully addressed your wants and needs as a customer? For me, it was around the holidays, while searching for the perfect gift to give a friend who is a huge fan of the video game series “The Legend of Zelda.”

My online search for the right gift led me to STL Ocarina, a company that sells ocarinas — the musical wind instruments that have been around for thousands of years and a staple item in the Legend of Zelda series. Clearly, the company knew many of its customers were like me — either fans of the games or shopping for fans of the games — so it made finding Zelda-themed ocarinas on its website simple.

Just hover over the tab that says “Our Ocarinas,” and the first category to pop up under the tab says “For Legend of Zelda Fans.” From there, I was taken to a page displaying their Zelda-themed ocarinas and the option to include a songbook of the game’s music.

After purchasing the ocarina and songbook, I remembered my friend doesn’t know how to play the ocarina and the songbook may not have tips for beginners. Luckily, STL Ocarina’s confirmation email included a YouTube instructional video and links to online resources that will help him get started.

STL Ocarina serves as a great example of what customer-centric marketing looks like. During the few minutes I was on the company’s website, every touchpoint of my buyer journey was valuable, from landing on the website to browsing for the right gift to making a purchase.

Months later, I’m still recommending the website to friends who want Legend of Zelda merchandise or are simply looking for a new hobby to pick up.

In order for your company to turn customers into advocates, the same way I advocate for STL Ocarina, it’s important to add value to every part of the customer’s journey and to address their needs. A way to accomplish this is to create a solid customer-centric marketing strategy.

Customer-centric marketing ensures your customers are satisfied with their products or service enough to remain loyal and to tell others to become customers as well. To implement customer-centric marketing for your business, first ask yourself:

  • How are customers connecting with your business? Is it via social media, the website, email, phone, or something else?
  • Is there value being offered in each of these channels?
  • What can be done to improve the customer’s experience at every touchpoint?

Customer-Centric Marketing Examples

Many companies have taken a customer-centric approach to their marketing strategy and have achieved great success. These companies include:

1. Starbucks

customer centric marketing starbucks

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One of the most well-known successful customer-centric marketing strategies comes from Starbucks with its Starbucks Reward Loyalty Program. This program offers a variety of perks, including exclusive discounts, free refills on brewed coffee, and free drinks for customers on their birthday. However, one of the program’s standout services is that it gives customers the ability to order and pay ahead of arriving at the restaurant.

This means customers who are pressed for time can schedule their items for pickup, thus avoiding long lines and inconsistent wait times.

According to Forbes, Starbucks attributed 40% of its total sales in 2019 to its rewards program. Forbes also reported users of the Loyalty Program’s app were 5.6 times more likely to visit a Starbucks every day.

2. Nordstrom

Luxury department store chain Nordstrom sought to improve its service and product discovery by creating a more streamlined and personalized shopping experience. The company achieved this by implementing its Nordstrom Analytical Platform. The platform consists of AI models that handle tasks such as inventory control and fulfillment, and routes orders to the nearest store.

The company also created fashion maps in which the AI uses natural language conversations, combined with images and information gathered from social media to predict customer preferences. Thanks to AI, the Nordstrom Analytical Platform offers personalized products and selections for customers via its Looks feature, storyboards, and more.

3. Bacardi

Back in 2019, Bacardi wanted to get potential customers in the UK and Germany excited about the brand’s new single-malt whiskies. Understanding drinkers in that demographic often have a taste for luxury, Bacardi teamed up with Amazon to create a live whisky tasting customers can enjoy from the comfort of their home.

The spirits company created its Single Malt Discovery Collection, which was made up of three whiskies exclusively for tasting. Customers in the UK and Germany could purchase the collection from Amazon and, in turn, receive access to the live streamed tasting. During the live stream, customers were able to ask questions to the host via a custom landing page on Amazon. More than 500 questions were asked and Bacardi saw an increase in sales on Amazon.

Tips for Creating a Strong Customer Centric Marketing Strategy

Crafting a customer-centric marketing strategy for the first time can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to get started:

1. Get Leadership Involved

To help ensure the success of any new strategy, it’s important to get the support and enthusiasm of senior leadership. If senior leaders prioritize customers at every channel and interaction, it will encourage others in the organization to do the same. You can get leadership on board by hosting regularly scheduled meetings to educate leadership on customer-centric marketing, discuss upcoming campaigns, and brainstorm creative ways to promote the brand.

2. Learn About Your Customers

Gain a better understanding of your customers by doing some of the following:

  • Conduct surveys asking customers about the quality of the service/product, the company’s strong points, where it can improve, and how they most interact with the brand.
  • Have one-on-one interviews with current and former customers asking about their experience with the company, why they choose to remain loyal, or why they left. You can also ask former customers what changes would have made them stay.
  • Use data gathered from analytics tools to track customer behavior.
  • Monitor social media and/or enable Google Alerts so that you can see what people are saying about your business online. For example, if customers often take to Twitter to complain about how difficult it is to navigate your website, that could be a sign to update the site. You can also gauge the type of content your customers like to see on social media. Perhaps on TikTok you notice followers enjoy behind-the-scenes videos, while customers on Twitter enjoy having their questions answered or reading important announcements.
  • Read through customer emails and monitor calls to see how customers are interacting with your company.

3. Add Value to Every Customer Interaction

Customers, or potential customers, can be at any stage of their journey with your company, which is why it’s important to create appeal at every touchpoint. Whether they interact with your organization via social media, are calling to get help with a problem, or they are at the end stage of purchasing a product/service, every part of the buyer’s cycle should spark engagement and joy.

Nordstrom offering personalized products/services based on the customer’s behavior, and Starbucks creating a system that allows customers to get their needs met quickly and efficiently are great examples of adding value at different customer interactions. Same can be said for Bacardi’s virtual, at-home whisky tasting. The one thing that all of these actions have in common is that they make the customer experience fun, engaging, and simple.

4. The Value of Customer-Centric Marketing

As technology continues to change the way people interact with brands and businesses, the customer journey has become less linear. To keep up with the ever-evolving journey, companies must adopt a customer centric marketing approach to build stronger relationships that will turn your customers into some of its strongest advocates.

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

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45 Free Content Writing Tools to Love [for Writing, Editing & Content Creation]

Creating content isn’t always a walk in the park. (In fact, it can sometimes feel more like trying to swim against the current.)

While other parts of business and marketing are becoming increasingly automated, content creation is still a very manual job. (more…)

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

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How data clean rooms might help keep the internet open

Are data clean rooms the solution to what IAB CEO David Cohen has called the “slow-motion train wreck” of addressability? Voices at the IAB will tell you that they have a big role to play.

“The issue with addressability is that once cookies go away, and with the loss of identifiers, about 80% of the addressable market will become unknown audiences which is why there is a need for privacy-centric consent and a better consent-value exchange,” said Jeffrey Bustos, VP, measurement, addressability and data at the IAB.

“Everyone’s talking about first-party data, and it is very valuable,” he explained, “but most publishers who don’t have sign-on, they have about 3 to 10% of their readership’s first-party data.” First-party data, from the perspective of advertisers who want to reach relevant and audiences, and publishers who want to offer valuable inventory, just isn’t enough.

Why we care. Two years ago, who was talking about data clean rooms? The surge of interest is recent and significant, according to the IAB. DCRs have the potential, at least, to keep brands in touch with their audiences on the open internet; to maintain viability for publishers’ inventories; and to provide sophisticated measurement capabilities.

How data clean rooms can help. DCRs are a type of privacy-enhancing technology that allows data owners (including brands and publishers) to share customer first-party data in a privacy-compliant way. Clean rooms are secure spaces where first-party data from a number of sources can be resolved to the same customer’s profile while that profile remains anonymized.

In other words, a DCR is a kind of Switzerland — a space where a truce is called on competition while first-party data is enriched without compromising privacy.

“The value of a data clean room is that a publisher is able to collaborate with a brand across both their data sources and the brand is able to understand audience behavior,” said Bestos. For example, a brand selling eye-glasses might know nothing about their customers except basic transactional data — and that they wear glasses. Matching profiles with a publisher’s behavioral data provides enrichment.

“If you’re able to understand behavioral context, you’re able to understand what your customers are reading, what they’re interested in, what their hobbies are,” said Bustos. Armed with those insights, a brand has a better idea of what kind of content they want to advertise against.

The publisher does need to have a certain level of first-party data for the matching to take place, even if it doesn’t have a universal requirement for sign-ins like The New York Times. A publisher may be able to match only a small percentage of the eye-glass vendor’s customers, but if they like reading the sports and arts sections, at least that gives some directional guidance as to what audience the vendor should target.

Dig deeper: Why we care about data clean rooms

What counts as good matching? In its “State of Data 2023” report, which focuses almost exclusively on data clean rooms, concern is expressed that DCR efficacy might be threatened by poor match rates. Average match rates hover around 50% (less for some types of DCR).

Bustos is keen to put this into context. “When you are matching data from a cookie perspective, match rates are usually about 70-ish percent,” he said, so 50% isn’t terrible, although there’s room for improvement.

One obstacle is a persistent lack of interoperability between identity solutions — although it does exist; LiveRamp’s RampID is interoperable, for example, with The Trade Desk’s UID2.

Nevertheless, said Bustos, “it’s incredibly difficult for publishers. They have a bunch of identity pixels firing for all these different things. You don’t know which identity provider to use. Definitely a long road ahead to make sure there’s interoperability.”

Maintaining an open internet. If DCRs can contribute to solving the addressability problem they will also contribute to the challenge of keeping the internet open. Walled gardens like Facebook do have rich troves of first-party and behavioral data; brands can access those audiences, but with very limited visibility into them.

“The reason CTV is a really valuable proposition for advertisers is that you are able to identify the user 1:1 which is really powerful,” Bustos said. “Your standard news or editorial publisher doesn’t have that. I mean, the New York Times has moved to that and it’s been incredibly successful for them.” In order to compete with the walled gardens and streaming services, publishers need to offer some degree of addressability — and without relying on cookies.

But DCRs are a heavy lift. Data maturity is an important qualification for getting the most out of a DCR. The IAB report shows that, of the brands evaluating or using DCRs, over 70% have other data-related technologies like CDPs and DMPs.

“If you want a data clean room,” Bustos explained, “there are a lot of other technological solutions you have to have in place before. You need to make sure you have strong data assets.” He also recommends starting out by asking what you want to achieve, not what technology would be nice to have. “The first question is, what do you want to accomplish? You may not need a DCR. ‘I want to do this,’ then see what tools would get you to that.”

Understand also that implementation is going to require talent. “It is a demanding project in terms of the set-up,” said Bustos, “and there’s been significant growth in consulting companies and agencies helping set up these data clean rooms. You do need a lot of people, so it’s more efficient to hire outside help for the set up, and then just have a maintenance crew in-house.”

Underuse of measurement capabilities. One key finding in the IAB’s research is that DCR users are exploiting the audience matching capabilities much more than realizing the potential for measurement and attribution. “You need very strong data scientists and engineers to build advanced models,” Bustos said.

“A lot of brands that look into this say, ‘I want to be able to do a predictive analysis of my high lifetime value customers that are going to buy in the next 90 days.’ Or ‘I want to be able to measure which channels are driving the most incremental lift.’ It’s very complex analyses they want to do; but they don’t really have a reason as to why. What is the point? Understand your outcome and develop a sequential data strategy.”

Trying to understand incremental lift from your marketing can take a long time, he warned. “But you can easily do a reach and frequency and overlap analysis.” That will identify wasted investment in channels and as a by-product suggest where incremental lift is occurring. “There’s a need for companies to know what they want, identify what the outcome is, and then there are steps that are going to get you there. That’s also going to help to prove out ROI.”

Dig deeper: Failure to get the most out of data clean rooms is costing marketers money


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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

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Ascend | DigitalMarketer

At this stage, your goal is to generate repeat buys and real profits. While your entry-point offer was designed for conversions, your ascension offers should be geared for profits—because if you’re serving your customers well, they’ll want to buy again and again.

Ascension offers may be simple upsells made after that initial purchase… bigger, better solutions… or “done for you” add-ons.

So now we must ask ourselves, what is our core flagship offer and how do we continue to deliver value after the first sale is made? What is the thing that we are selling? 

How we continue to deliver value after the first sale is really important, because having upsells and cross sales gives you the ability to sell to customers you already have. It will give you higher Average Customer values, which is going to give you higher margins. Which means you can spend more to acquire new customers. 

Why does this matter? It matters because of this universal law of marketing and customer acquisition, he or she who is able and willing to spend the most to acquire a customer wins.

Very often the business with the best product messaging very often is the business that can throw the most into customer acquisition. Now there are two ways to do that.

The first way is to just raise a lot of money. The problem is if you have a lot of money, that doesn’t last forever. At some point you need economics. 

The second way, and the most timeless and predictable approach, is to simply have the highest value customers of anyone in your market. If your customers are worth more to you than they are to your competitors, you can spend more to acquire them at the same margin. 

If a customer is worth twice as much to you than it is to your competitor, you can spend twice as much trying to acquire them to make the same margin. You can invest in your customer acquisition, because your customers are investing in your business. You can invest in your customer experiences, and when we invest more into the customer we build brands that have greater value. Meaning, people are more likely to choose you over someone else, which can actually lower acquisition costs. 

Happy customers refer others to us, which is called zero dollar customer acquisition, and generally just ensures you’re making a bigger impact. You can invest more in the customer experience and customer acquisition process if you don’t have high margins. 

If you deliver a preview experience, you can utilize revenue maximizers like up sells, cross sales, and bundles. These are things that would follow up the initial sale or are combined with the initial sale to increase the Average Customer Value.

The best example of an immediate upsell is the classic McDonalds, “would you like fries with that?” You got just a burger, do you also want fries with that? 

What distinguishes an upsell from other types of follow up offers is the upsell promise, the same end result for a bigger and better end result. 

What’s your desired result when you go to McDonalds? It’s not to eat healthy food, and it’s not even to eat a small amount of food. When you go to McDonalds your job is to have a tasty, greasy, predictable inexpensive meal. No one is going there because it’s healthy, you’re going there because you want to eat good. 

It’s predictable. It’s not going to break the bank for a hamburger, neither will adding fries or a Coke. It’s the same experience, but it’s BIGGER and BETTER. 

Amazon does this all of the time with their “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought …” But this one is algorithmic. The point of a cross sell is that it is relevant to the consumer, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be aligned with the original purchase. What you don’t want to do is start someone down one path and confuse them.

You can make this process easy with Bundles and Kits. With a bundle or a kit you’re essentially saying to someone, “you can buy just one piece, or you can get this bundle that does all of these other things for a little bit more. And it’s a higher value.”

The idea behind bundles and kits is that we are adding to the primary offer, not offering them something different. We’re simply promising to get them this desired result in higher definition. 

The Elements of High-Converting Revenue Maximizers (like our bundles and kits) are:

  1. Speed

If you’re an e-Commerce business, selling a physical product, this can look like: offering free shipping for orders $X or more. We’re looking to get your customers the same desired result, but with less work for them.

  1. Automation

If you’re a furniture business, and you want to add a Revenue Maximizer, this can look like: Right now for an extra $X our highly trained employees will come and put this together for you. 

  1. Access 

People will pay for speed, they’ll pay for less work, but they will also pay for a look behind the curtain. Think about the people who pay for Backstage Passes. Your customers will pay for a VIP experience just so they can kind of see how everything works. 

Remember, the ascension stage doesn’t have to stop. Once you have a customer, you should do your best to make them a customer for life. You should continue serving them. Continue asking them, “what needs are we still not meeting” and seek to meet those needs. 

It is your job as a marketer to seek out to discover these needs, to bring these back to the product team, because that’s what’s going to enable you to fully maximize the average customer value. Which is going to enable you to have a whole lot more to spend to acquire those customers and make your job a whole lot easier. 

Now that you understand the importance of the ascend stage, let’s apply it to our examples.

Hazel & Hem could have free priority shipping over $150, a “Boutique Points” reward program with exclusive “double point” days to encourage spending, and an exclusive “Stylist Package” that includes a full outfit custom selected for the customer. 

Cyrus & Clark can retain current clients by offering an annual strategic plan, “Done for You” Marketing services that execute on the strategic plan, and the top tier would allow customers to be the exclusive company that Cyrus & Clark services in specific geographical territories.



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