Ah, the customer. The person who represents the endgame of all your marketing and communications work—and what should be the most important component of your brand strategy. You’d think comms pros would prioritize their ability to understand the targets to whom they’re reaching out, but new research from insight-led customer engagement firm Mapp reveals that sadly, this is not the case.
The firm’s newly released study on current CX strategies, The Do’s and Don’ts of Improving Your Customer Experience in 2021, with research conducted by Forrester Consulting, reveals that while 89 percent of respondents think a CX strategy is important or very important to business success, less than half (47 percent) review and evaluate their CX strategy annually, or in many cases, even less frequently. Nearly the same amount (88 percent) agree that it is important to understand changing customer needs using customer analytics to improve CX. Yet only half (55 percent) of CX and marketing decision-makers plan to implement customer analytics in 2021. Why is this?
Customer experience is paramount—but implementation is still lacking
Those companies that do plan to implement customer analytics tools expect to use it to facilitate improved customer insight (75 percent), gain a better understanding of customer intent (55 percent) and improve their ability to update their CX strategy (55 percent) in an agile manner. A full 80 percent of marketers expect enhanced personalization.
Despite the clear benefits, companies face major hurdles when it comes to updating their CX strategy. Respondents cite the difficulty of linking business outcomes to real customer needs (83 percent), insufficient technology platforms (77 percent), and a lack of vision and alignment among leaders, teams, and employees (72 percent).
Lack of insights as the biggest challenge to improved CX
Although customer experience (CX) and customer insights are not new to the marketing industry, many marketers still face the challenge of gaining truly relevant customer insights to keep pace with end-user expectations.
Over half (53 percent) of marketers say they are unable to identify customers on their website, even though this is the foundation for gaining insights and driving CX. Following Google’s announcement that it will no longer support third-party cookies, first-party data will play an even more important role, as valid data collection and the identification of the right insights are more important than ever. For 54 percent of respondents, the lack of customer insights is by far the biggest challenge when it comes to enabling better brand experiences. Fifty-seven percent of marketers surveyed consider lack of skilled talent being their primary challenge in delivering better CX.
At the same time, however, only a quarter attribute their success in recent years to talent improvement. This proves that while hiring and developing qualified staff is important, using the right tools for insight-driven marketing offers the greatest economic success. Sixty-five percent of respondents expect that new technology leads to improved customer insights.
More know-how and sales through customer insights
To better understand their customers’ needs, companies are already investing in their MarTech stacks. For improved customer understanding, the marketers surveyed cite customer analytics (56 percent), customer data management (52 percent) and marketing automation (49 percent) as top investments in the last two years.
In addition, 51 percent of decision-makers have also already achieved greater performance using customer insights. Companies that have implemented AI or ML tools also report improved ability to update their strategy (62 percent), greater understanding of customer intent (58 percent) and improved customer insights (57 percent).
“Our study shows that targeted improvement of the customer experience leads to significantly faster growth and more revenue and should, therefore, be a top priority for every marketer,” said Ricardas Montvila, VP Global Strategy at Mapp, in a news release. “Given the focus on online business models, marketing must be aligned even more efficiently to achieve this. After all, understanding customers is the basis for brand experiences that work, and investing in customer analytics is a prerequisite for a marketing ecosystem that enables this understanding. Technology helps to identify actionable insights and user segments for highly personalized customer experiences and to place brand messages across channels.”
The commissioned study was conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Mapp in December 2020 with 203 marketing decision-makers from multi-channel retail, eCommerce, CPG/D2C and financial services in the US, Canada, and Europe.