The Customer You Seek Is Seeking You in Return
In today’s digital world, it is simultaneously easier and harder than ever before to establish, nurture, grow and maintain your relationship between your brand and your customers. The same technologies that have enabled productivity and scale create the struggle of an always-on environment with diminished windows of opportunity and more demands on less staff. All with heightened P&L responsibilities.
In all of the noise of digital opportunities, challenges and potential solutions, it is easy to forget that the thing we’re all seeking — our customer — is almost certainly seeking us. Think about that for a minute. We sell a solution, a service, a thing. And more than likely we are of the belief that our solution is better than the other options in the market. We spend countless hours building our messaging around those advantages and precious dollars, trying to reach potential customers. And with every minute that passes and every dollar that is spent, the reality is that right now, a human being with a problem we can solve is actively searching for a solution.
Are we ready to be there at the moment they seek us out? What does that really mean today? How do we know? And how do we pragmatically empower our teams to regularly and accurately audit our own readiness in such an overwhelmingly complex world? Even with data in hand, do we know how to drive performance through the optimization of our own customer experience and digital marketing?
There’s no silver bullet, because if there were, I’d have found it by now and I’d be building an agency called Silver Bullet from the mobile office inside my personal Falcon 7X jet. So until there is a surefire solution, here are three simple steps you can take to check what I call your Customer Experience Readiness Quotient (CXRQ) and make your brand more effective at capitalizing the human-to-human demands of our digital world.
Step 1: Optimize content for customer experience vs. page rank
Many old-school SEO (anything circa 2012) tactics hurt rather than help overall ranking, presence and discoverability. Rather than obsessing over where your website falls within Google’s search results, spend your time and energy thinking about optimizing your content for customers and not a web crawler. Because the latter is not involved in your customer’s emotional journey with your brand. Customers seeking a solution will engage with relevant content, not an algorithm. This means identifying what makes your company and solution unique to them. It means empathizing with your customer (“what do they feel, think, do and say?”) as they maneuver through their self-directed attempt to solve their problem. The approach to solve their personal needs will drive the performance you’re looking for, all without stuffing keywords to manipulate the machine.
Step 2: Make sure your social media content is strategic and focused on your core channel(s).
Google’s Panda and Penguin updates now factor sociability into website ranking, taking into account the content that isshared via social media and considering it more relevant/useful than content that simply sits on your website. To take action on this, you must audit your strongest social channels where your desired customers spend the most time when they aren’t with you. And just because you sell B2B doesn’t mean Facebook is less relevant. What two-way experience does your customer crave with a brand that offers a solution like yours? What channels can you invest time, energy, content strategy and focus into? Begin to build a dialogue and amplify it through your crowd’s activity by putting out content they would be proud or happy to share onward.
Step 3: If you want to please Google, meet your customer’s needs along the customer journey.
At Ethology, one of our coolest and most recent examples of this was in the creation of a modern search strategy that started with empathy-based personas and journey maps for Dime Bank, a New York bank with a few dozen branches in Brooklyn/NYC. They came to us 12 months after launching their very first nationally available online Money Market Account and were looking for ways to drive out-of-state depositors into their assets under management with online and digital marketing. Our efforts began with empathizing with the customer sets they cared about to gain deeper insight into what customers needed and wanted to hear in order to build trust and understanding without talking to, or visiting, a branch. This work to understand their customer’s experience informed the UX/UI, content strategy and content creation for the product positioning and landing pages. The resulting modern search strategy went live and generated $100M in assets under management for a product that had garnered $1M in the preceding six months. Year over year it’s beaten their projections by low double digits.
To show the power of what can happen when you’re “there” when someone is seeking you, take the case of the woman in Ohio who found Dime Bank after a simple search and immediately opened up a $1,000 account. Once Dime Bank approved her account, she immediately transferred $6M into her MMA set up by a bank a two hour’s flight away. She was looking for a better product. A solution for her money. She found what she needed, in real time, with content that served her needs. She was happy, the bank was happy, and we’re betting the bank’s shareholders are happy too.