Throughout the decades, customer needs and expectations have changed and evolved as innovations are developed and new trends arise. These evolving factors can make it a bit tricky to get your audience to engage with your business. As a marketer, strategy is a huge element that plays a key role in the success of a campaign, but even more important than strategy is understanding your consumer. You could set up the best automated marketing funnel with all the bells and whistles, but it’s not going to get you additional leads if you don’t understand the needs and expectations of your audience.
One of your major goals should be to use marketing to get your customers to connect with your brand and the message you are trying to convey. Customer needs and expectations may change, but something that still rings true today as it did decades ago, is taking the time to understand your customers in order to plan the right strategy.
What Customers Expect from Businesses
Today, expectations have shifted toward the user experience whether it’s online or in person. Customers value experiences a lot more today as we see more elaborate activations and experiential events that increase brand awareness, retention, and peak in-person interactions. The customer of today wants to have a positive experience in everything that they do, from booking a trip online to buying a new pair of jeans at the mall. Regardless of the actual product or service, there needs to be a positive experience involved, whether it’s with the product, customer service, or the buying process. Something that all of these areas have in common is that they are all part of the customer journey and contain opportunities to provide a great experience based on expectations.
A Connected Journey
With so many different social media platforms, devices, and streaming services, customers expect a connected journey. It’s up to us to meet them wherever they are and on multiple channels.
Part of meeting that expectation is having an omnichannel approach because we live in a multi-platform world where users aren’t just using one form of communication. They expect communication with your business to be simple for them which means being able to text or direct message on Instagram, sending you an email, chatting with your customer service team through live chat, or simply giving your business a phone call.
The omnichannel approach allows you to maintain a 360-degree view of each customer who engages with your brand and helps create better audience segmentation for future campaigns. Additionally, you’ll be able to expand your brand visibility across all channels. The key here is to make sure your messaging is consistent and personalized (if possible) in every touchpoint and, in turn, can help with brand loyalty.
Personalizing the communication you have with your customers is something that customers expect because it makes them feel like they’re being acknowledged as an actual person vs. a number or “just another customer.” People want to feel important and taking the time to personalize your message is an opportunity to better understand a customer’s needs.
Customizing interactions with your customers based on past encounters with them is something that can help win their business. We talked about how an omnichannel approach can help with audience segmentation. Well, those segmented lists can help you take it a step further through personalized email marketing.
If, for example, you have a list of people that like gardening, you can include content about gardening in your email content as long as you find a way to effectively tie it into your products or services. Content personalization has a higher chance of converting customers, creating brand loyalty, and increasing your return on investment.
Speed & Promptness
Navigating the Internet is all about ease of use. We want to be able to place orders quickly, steam videos instantly, and not have to wait for things to load when using mobile devices to browse websites. Users expect not only Internet load times to be quick but also their interactions with the business. Responses to customer inquiries are expected to be nearly instant and in real-time.
Many brands have an automated email sequence that helps meet that need, but there are many that still have yet to implement email marketing automation or set up mention alerts. Things like this may not seem crucial, but the customer is always aware of how much you pay attention to them and their activity. Making sure you have some automation in place will help you connect with the customer a lot faster.
Speaking to Customer Needs
In order to meet client expectations, businesses need to invest the time to get to know their customers so that they can provide the experience customers crave. Understanding their needs for your products or services will help to enhance the customer journey. Part of that comes with being transparent and authentic with your audience.
Part of the evolution of today’s marketing is the fact that it’s easy for consumers to tell if your brand is being authentic or not. Consumer today are very intuitive and that’s why brands can no longer really fake being authentic. Authenticity involves acknowledging and committing to the customers’ needs and being transparent about that in your messaging.
The Customer-Centric Approach
The customer-centric approach revolves around your customers and it happens by crafting personalized messaging, products, and content. It shouldn’t be about the hard sell or pushing products or services, but about crafting all elements to fit the unique needs of the customer. By meeting those needs, you are creating trust and familiarity with your brand and have a higher chance of turning them into loyal customers which ultimately helps your bottom line.
Within the last couple of years, personalization has been a popular buzzword among marketing professionals and business owners. When communicating with your audience, you want to make them feel special and start to build a relationship with them. But accomplishing that takes more than just talking about it. In order to personalize the customer experience, you need to collect data.
Software and technology allows marketers to gather data and insights on their customers, enabling them to create personalized experiences that cater to what the customer needs and not necessarily what you think they need. It all comes down to how you utilize the data that is collected and making sure that it’s helping you enhance each touchpoint with the customer through their journey.
When looking at deterring factors, it’s more likely for a customer to switch brands if they don’t have a positive experience. One of the leading reasons why people stop shopping with a certain brand or company is because their expectations are not met. Customers will always want great experiences, but without knowing both their needs and expectations, you’re bound to fall short, especially if those needs and expectations are being met by competitors.
When marketing to consumers’ expectations and needs, we must think about how expectations can shift. We all want experiences that make us feel like we are understood as a consumer and that we are top-of-mind because ultimately, we are the ones buying those products or services. In order to create brand loyalty among your customers and maintain a certain threshold of business, you need to exceed those customer expectations and push innovation to create something that’s different and fresh.