In CRM and loyalty marketing, we talk a lot about personalization, the idea of making communications to a customer as specific as possible to that individual. It can be as simple as inserting personal details like name or reward points balance into an email. Or it can be as complex as a series of attributes based on past behavior to determine what menu item to display in an ad.
But executing a personalized tactic or creating a segment based on past behavior is merely an output of a broader marketing strategy. In most cases, those outputs result from some part of the strategy that is focused on getting the most relevant information in front of a customer to promote something. In other words, personalization is a product of the customer-centric marketing approach.
In this post, we’ll uncover why this distinction matters, what it means to approach marketing from a customer-centric perspective, and how it benefits brands and customers.
What does it mean to be customer-centric?
To be customer-centric, a brand must think differently about how it informs and makes marketing and communications decisions. It is a mindset shift for marketers and strategists, away from the traditional approach of starting with a message and determining what customer/segment should receive it. Instead, we START with the customer and then determine the right message (promotion, creative, offer, or media vehicle) to utilize. This approach produces a marketing calendar with multiple combinations of promotions, evergreen (always-on) messaging, offers, and creative content. Each customer segment gets a unique blend tailored to its interests.
4 Key Components of a Customer-Centric Approach
1. Strategy begins with the customer and their journey.
Instead of looking at the quarter or year ahead and planning the promotions, products, or services for that period, you instead analyze the segments of customers and plot out what you want them to do in that period. You then build your marketing strategy around those journeys, key moments, experiences, and desired outcomes.
2. Content delivery must be dynamic.
You need to be able to meet your customers where they are at the right moment. Being able to update your email, push, SMS, and media strategies in real-time is essential. These strategies and any pivots you make should be driven by the individual who is receiving the message and what you want them to do at that particular moment.
3. The customer experience across all channels must be seamless.
Coordinating systems and strategies across your entire MarTech stack is key here. Consumers today are used to and expect an omnichannel experience, often driven by several specialty platforms used by your team. They must work together to balance dynamic messaging and a seamless experience.
4. Customer performance indicates success.
Success is not measured by how well individual tactics or campaigns perform but rather by the customer segments’ performance. Did the customer do what you wanted them to do? Did they create an account? Did they make a purchase? Did they reactivate? Did they share? To be clear, this doesn’t mean we do not value well-performing content or stop tracking metrics like email click rates. Rather, the goal is to view those data points alongside key customer performance indicators, such as the revenue generated per email. Ongoing optimization is key to informing and enacting customer targeting plans.
A greater focus on the relationship with customers
The customer-centric approach also emphasizes the relationship a brand or organization has with its customer. When the mindset shifts from a message-driven strategy to a customer-driven strategy, tactics foster a more meaningful, mutually beneficial relationship between both parties. Just like relationships with partners, spouses, or friends, both parties need to work and put in the effort to make the relationship strong and long-lasting.
Success with the customer-centric approach
At Response Labs, the Strategy and Data team leads the customer-centric approach for our clients. From implementing quick wins for results today to weaving a consistent thread of strategy across long-term, holistic planning. The combination of strategy and data as one team keeps our other teams connected throughout the customer-centric planning process—Creative, Media, Production, and Client Service. Just like the messaging platforms and content need to be interconnected and in sync, so too, do the teams executing the plan.