Most customers want to be happy, and most companies want the same: to create consistently positive customer experiences and to ensure as much customer retention as possible. But not every company is able to leverage feedback and automate its marketing processes to ensure that consistent experience.
Businesses have a lot on the line when it comes to customer experience (CX): NewVoiceMedia reports that $62 billion in business is lost every year due to poor customer experiences. Along the way, customers make their unhappiness known—with as many as 95% of customers sharing their poor customer experiences with other people, according to American Express.
But not every company gets enough feedback from its customers—and even fewer use that feedback to improve their CX.
So how can companies create a marketing strategy that automates many of their marketing processes while improving their customer experience? Is it possible to leverage customer feedback automatically and install a new system that gathers actionable data and helps improve the way your company handles each customer experience?
Why marketing automation and customer experience matters
It comes down to a simple goal: customer retention. Increasing customer retention rates even 5% can increase profits up to 95%, according to a study published at Harvard Business School.
Success in retaining customers depends overwhelmingly on customer experience. A study by McKinsey found that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels he or she was treated. And consistency matters: research at Thunder Head shows that even just one bad customer experience can provoke 25% of customers to switch services.
So how might marketing automation boost the overall customer experience?
As McKinsey reported, “Customer-experience leaders can become even better by digitizing the processes behind the most important customer journeys.” Further research highlights the need for consistency: measuring satisfaction for customer journeys is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than feedback from any individual interaction.
Automating your marketing processes also has two major advantages:
- Simplifying workflow to reduce time consumption.
- Enabling personalization at scale, providing each customer greater individual relevance and giving services the appeal of feeling “tailor-made”. For example, the DMA found in 2015 that 58% of all email revenue came from personalized emails.
Leveraging customer feedback may be the key to automating a consistent customer experience. Feedback enables a company to reach out to unhappy customers (reducing churn 11% around unhappy customers, according to one study) and gives your audience a voice. Given that the majority of buying experiences are evaluated based on how the customer feels treated, that voice has never been more important than it is today.
Customer feedback also helps you. It provides the rich, actionable data you can use to leverage your marketing efforts down the road, building an automated platform that makes a customer feel both heard and valued. With the right tools in place, you can increase customer retention and improve the effectiveness of marketing across every stage of the customer journey.
Evaluating Different Marketing Automation Tools
It’s not enough to have a marketing stack in place. Your company also needs to evaluate different marketing automation tools to find which work best for your teams and to find out which elicit the most accurate feedback from your customers.
Whether you’re looking at Pardot (Salesforce), Hubspot, Act-On, Mailchimp, Eloqua, or Marketo, each marketing automation tool serves a different type of business.
We recommend using these strategies to find the best marketing automation tool for YOUR business:
- Free trial periods. Make full use of any free trial periods on offer, noting which solutions fit best with your own processes. Don’t make final decisions on purchases until trying marketing automation tools in a real environment.
- Compare features, supports, and costs. Keep a “master list” of the tools you evaluate. Although these tools won’t always support direct comparisons, do your best to compare their features, customer support, and monthly costs accurately.
- Break down the silos between your teams. The evaluation period is an opportunity for communication across company departments. Invite each team to discuss the pros and cons of each marketing automation solution.
- Examine the data. The goal of many of these tools is to discover real data from your customers to enhance their experience. How well did they perform? Which tools made it easiest to gather customer feedback? Which made it easiest to interpret the data and act upon it?
When the Content Marketing Institute recommended ten questions to ask when evaluating marketing automation tools, they utilized a “Q&A” doc that addressed the most common issues companies face when building their automation stack. These were questions like:
- Have you involved the people who will work with the marketing tools in the process?
- How might you cut away what doesn’t work?
- Will it be possible to utilize multiple tools and still create consistent internal data?
Your goal is to arrive at automated marketing solutions that make feedback-gathering easier on your own team while increasing the quality of that data. Keep the tools that work for you and continue to test others to fill the gaps.
Marketing Automation Tools for Efficient Feedback Collection
Most marketing automation software starts with email marketing, but true marketing automation is defined by not only including email, but also including:
- landing pages
- campaign management
- lead generation
- lead scoring
- lead nurturing
- lead management
- dynamic content
We’re big fans of marketing automation platforms that leverage customer data to streamline repetitive tasks, a/b testing and anything that will set up our marketing team and sales team for success. Your marketing automation needs to enable your sales team to follow-up effectively with new leads (specifically, qualified leads) brought in via inbound marketing.
Your marketing technology stack should include a wide consideration of solutions designed at streamlining your customer experience and building the customer relationship. Here are some of the social media integrations and SaaS solutions you might consider:
Social Media Marketing Automation
- Buffer: Buffer synchronizes social media accounts for scheduling social media posts and analyzing SMM performance.
- CoSchedule: CoSchedule enables side-by-side social automation with email campaigns and ongoing analytics.
- Quuu: Includes scheduling, but also uses a “relevant interest” searching feature designed to target content to your potential customers.
- Social Mention helps you discover your reputation online, giving you the resources you need to discover negative customer experiences and reach out.
Email Survey Automation
- SurveyMonkey: SurveyMonkey makes it possible to target feedback-gathering surveys at your market and increase customer retention through real-time feedback.
- GetFeedback: The high level of personalization in GetFeedback surveys helps customers feel their opinion is valued. The data on your end is easy to track and monitor throughout the process.
- SurveyLegend: High-quality data analytics help interpret large swaths of data gathered through SurveyLegend’s robust polling features.
The Aprimo Platform gives marketing leaders the tools to plan, measure, and manage their marketing campaigns, creating visual configurations that reduce the time spent sorting through data. Through its marketing productivity tools, users can then leverage their business data to focus on the content that most matters to the user experience.
The Tech Stack at Aprimo includes the buyer’s journey through product creation and content discovery. We use tools like Aprimo Idea Lab to spur the creative process and coordinate ideas. Then tools like Aprimo Plan & Spend and Productivity help us coordinate the ideal solutions to reach customers throughout their experience.
Finding the right tools does work: When Acteva, an online registration service, started utilizing marketing automation tools to improve its customer personalization, it was an immediate success. While increasing the customer experience through automated and personalized emails and landing pages for 350% ROI, the campaign also reduced marketing costs by 30%.
Leveraging Feedback and Data from Marketing Automation Resources
Once you have the tools in place, you’ll be ready to collect feedback from your customers. But what comes next?
You’ll never improve customer experience if you don’t use that feedback to improve your relationship with customers. Now is the time to deliver personalized content.
Consider when USA.gov updated its own maps of its customer experiences. According to the case study, “The…results helped us clearly see the pain points and gaps in the customer’s experience, including channel, content, and device gaps.” USA.gov used that data to make improvements to the contact center voice menu and establish a customer advisory council to increase engagement.
Here are a few other ways to make use of the feedback you gather from your marketing automation resources:
- Use data to reduce churn. According to ZenDesk, as many as 95% of customers may take action as the result of a negative experience. By reaching out before customers take that action, businesses can better utilize that brief window and inspire long-term customer loyalty.
- Improve sales processes by building rich, fully-developed customer profiles. That was the case with USA.gov, which used its data to build more detailed snapshots of its customer journeys and identify its points of highest customer resistance.
- Build re-engagement campaigns with inactive customers to revive old relationships.
- Identify the “pain points” in your own customer experiences. Where do customers experience the most buying friction? Where do they most often target their frustrations?
- Don’t give up. Some two-thirds of all online customers who put an item in their carts abandon it. Reach out to those who have demonstrated a clear interest in your product or services and find out what’s holding them back.
Leverage Feedback to Retain More Customers
Most customers want to be happy—but if they have no way how to tell you to make that possible, your business will only spin its wheels. When customers readily provide feedback for an improved customer experience, that creates a unique opportunity for you to enhance the CX for every customer. It’s important to remember that even negative feedback in this context can help you avoid points of friction in every customer’s buying journey.
When AO.com expanded from appliance offerings into audio-visual equipment, its initial customer feedback was poor. “The online offers were over-complicated, too jargon-heavy, and populated with huge ranges that were hard to distinguish,” writes eConsultancy.
But AO used that feedback to cut these problems away, simplifying its online presence and ultimately increasing the average order by some £50. By simply accepting the feedback as honest and making the appropriate changes, AO built a better marketing platform and increased ROI.
With marketing automation, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get this kind of feedback, but you should take steps to evaluate your current technology stack and try out new tools that help you gather this data consistently and—more importantly—put it to work. With that plan in place, you can increase ROI, decrease costs, and give your customer the experience they wanted.