Digital marketing: Get the push vs. pull balance right
WRITTEN BY VANESSA CLARK, Mobiflock Marketing Director
In Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Doolittle books, the Pushmi-pullyu is a rare animal from Africa with two heads, half gazelle and half unicorn. When it tries to move, it gets pulled in two different directions.
It wouldn’t be surprising if many marketers feel like this at the moment, trying to navigate the rapidly changing digital marketing world, and getting the balance right between push and pull marketing.
Digital marketing is touted as the great conversation between a brand and its customers, but someone has to initiate the right conversations at the right time for your brand. Happy days indeed if your customers are spontaneously saying the right things about you, but most of the most successful viral campaign need to be seeded.
We all know it’s not a case of if you build it they will come. Consider a real life situation: you wouldn’t turn up at a networking event and stand in the corner, expecting people to flock to you to find out how interesting you are. Neither would you march up to people, interrupting their conversations and start shouting about how marvellous you are and that they really should be talking to you.
Somewhere between these two extremes is the right balance, for your company that will allow you to engage with your customers in a meaningful, relevant, authentic and sustained way.
African Business Review takes a look at how marketers can get the mix right.
Content is king
According to Pieter Streicher, Managing Director of mobile messaging company BulkSMS.com: “We know there is a rapid shift happening in how brands interact with consumers: from one-way, top-down communication, to an ongoing conversation between the consumer and the brand. Instead of broadcasting messages, brands need to focus on listening to consumers. By giving consumers a voice, brands have the ability to adapt their messages and products to give their customers what they really want.”
Jo Duxbury, founder of outsourced marketing agency Peppermint Source, maintains that content is key to ramping up your pull marketing activities.
“Great content underpins all pull marketing. If you make your content great, people will sign up from it. Make your content so fabulous that people clamour for more of it. Make them want to hear from you. And make sure you sustain this quality – that way you’ll build a long-term relationship and loyalty,” she said.
“Assess what your customers need, and then make sure you answer their questions in an accessible, entertaining (if on social media) and valuable way. This is an art – get a content specialist to help you with it if you don’t know where to start.”
Saying the right thing in the right way
Hand-in-hand with content creation, is deciding which channels are the best to not only reach your prospects and customers, but also to spark a conversation. Duxbury warns against choosing a digital marketing channel simply because it’s the one receiving a lot of hype at the moment.
“Each online channel has its pros and cons and may not be suitable for every brand,” she said. “Success will come from choosing a medium that can be used to deliver relevant, useful and interesting content to the right audience, in a way they want it. Content is king, and context is vital too.”
When choosing which platforms to use, consider what the company offers and how tech-savvy your customers are. “If your audience is online a lot, Twitter is potentially a great channel. Facebook can also be really useful, for a wider online audience,” she said.
In addition to looking to new, bright and shiny digital channels, marketers should be making sure they are getting most bang for their buck by running multi-channel campaigns, incorporating both old and new media, as appropriate. BulkSMS.com advises clients to use SMS to bridge the gap between static traditional media and more interactive and engaging digital media. It says SMS is a particularly appropriate way to achieve this, thanks to its reach, pervasiveness and acceptance by consumers across all demographics.
For instance in a retail context, an SMS short code campaign can transform a static channel such as a point-of-sale promotion, in-store posters or on-pack special offers into the start of an immediate conversation with the customer. “The brand can grab the customer on the spot when they literally have the product in their hand and allow them to enter a competition, access a discount on the product, give their feedback or sign up for future communications,” said Streicher.
Streicher also advises that marketers consider all the channels they will be using, both push and pull, at the outset of a campaign, rather than tacking them on at the end, with very little thought given to how to continue engaging with them.
Duxbury agrees and said: “Repurpose your conversation materials, don’t simply broadcast them across multiple platforms. For example, your tone on Twitter is likely to be different from that on your blog. Make it relevant to both the platform and the audience.
“But do make sure that your customers can converse with you across a wide range of platforms and devices – if they can’t find you on one, chances are they may switch to your competitors than try to find you on a secondary platform.”
Get the balance right, for your brand, and you will start meaningful conversations that take your brand forward, rather than being pulled in all directions at once.
Re-defining the economics of CX in the new customer journey
There’s no shortage of customer service channels for the enterprise to select from today. Regardless of the many new metrics that have emerged – such as customer success, or empathy – cost reduction is still a primary driver in selection criteria.
There are many articles dedicated to how companies can turn customer service and customer experience (CX) from a cost to a revenue centre. The problem is, if you stop there and don’t look beyond cost reduction, you’re limiting the scope for CX to become an even bigger economic contributor in the enterprise.
There is every opportunity for customer service and CX to significantly influence the front end of business, particularly amongst direct-to-consumer subscription-based products and services, such as popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, as well as sports subscription services like DAZN.
In these products and services and others, there are new customer journeys that may drive business growth and revenue. They start earlier and may last a lifetime, so getting things right at the start of the journey is key so that customers have the best experience from day one.
Not only will this help in making customers less likely to reach out for issues-based support further down the line, but these customers will be much less likely to churn, and much more likely to take up new services as they are offered throughout the lifetime journey.
So, what does the new customer journey look like for these services?
Opportunity waiting for the likes of Netflix & Disney
While consumers may have previously regarded customer service as a way to mitigate the inconveniences in their lives, the customer journey is expanding in scope every day. Today there are many more touchpoints available that put CX in a position to drive revenue.
For one-off purchases, traditional CX deployments have not changed significantly in the past few years. However, if you look at the change in the CX relationships we’re seeing with subscription-based products and services, particularly media-based streaming services, it’s clear that these companies lead what quickly become very multifaceted relationships with their customers. These have serious potential to evolve over time for increased economic benefit.
For any sort of subscription-based business, customer lifetime value is paramount, and the requirement to actively manage a continued positive customer experience is critical.
Every interaction is an opportunity, and every data point is a chance to offer more value. Introductory offers can convert to longtime customers. Longtime customers may take up opportunities to upgrade to more premium products or services. They may also appreciate incentives to invite family and friends to become customers. Consumers who like a particular service, for example, may appreciate a recommendation for another similar or complimentary service.
It all starts with customer interaction, and the customer experience journey becomes an opportunity to strategically affect the user base and resulting revenue - which is a far cry from the limitations of call center cost reduction or churn metrics.
How do companies support the new customer journey?
More and more, customers look at the new customer journey as engaging with brands as part of their lifestyles. Many companies are making brand ambassadors available before the traditional customer journey even starts, which is a marked change from a purely transactional relationship associated with a one-off purchase.
These ambassadors, who are often independent users of products or services, are providing trusted pre-sales advice, and that same trusted advice can also function to nurture the customer journey in a subscription-based relationship. Call it ‘GigCX’ or ‘crowdsourced customer service’ or even ‘peer-to-peer customer service’ - it doesn’t matter.
The key is in providing impartial, trusted advice from real users. Think about it: who would you rather get advice from? Someone who has used a product or service extensively, or someone who has been trained to provide customer service surrounding that product or service?
For services such as streaming media, advice from trusted experts with real product know-how could be invaluable. This may not be limited to technical issues, such as what to do when you can’t access your favourite show, or how to access services across various devices. It could be parents helping other parents who are concerned about how to restrict adult content from child viewers, or simply customers who have similar taste in programming who can comment on the benefits of upgraded or premium products. The point is, these experts are easily available at any touchpoint in the customer lifetime journey, creating more chances to add value.
It’s also about tipping customers from ‘passive’ to ‘promoter’ in the NPS scale. It’s an opportunity to turn neutral customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings into loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and referring others, fuelling growth. It may ultimately help drive even further revenue by creating customers that are helping to sell the brand itself.
And, while chatbots and automation may play a key role, they are often not able to handle the more complex support needed in the new customer journey. Conversational AI is rarely as conversational as it claims to be, and in the new customer journey, most companies are finding that a mix of automation and people-centric service is an ideal way to nurture the many new touchpoints created.
It’s no longer about trying to replace human capital with automation: it’s about orchestrating a uniquely personalised CX, and proactively engaging during the customer lifecycle to enhance the experience, and to create more long-term value.
At the moment, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the power to affect the economics introduced by the new customer journey. We’ll no doubt see this evolve rapidly particularly amongst streaming companies as they use human-centric connections in CX to support the full potential of customer lifetime value.
About Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is an entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact center industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent. Previously, Roger and Megan helped to build one of the largest privately-owned outsourced contact center business in Europe, before selling the business to the global conglomerate Hinduja Group. Roger is an outspoken proponent of digital ethics, worker’s rights and the ‘good-gig:’ which encapsulates gig work for incremental pay versus full time work, skilled gig work, no unpaid time/downtime and zero expenses.
Named a Rising Star at Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 program, Limitless is a gig customer service platform, combining crowdsourcing and AI to help global businesses address their biggest customer service challenges – rising costs, increasing attrition, variability in demand and the need for diversity. Brands like Microsoft, Unilever, Daily Mail Group and Postmates are using Limitless’ SmartCrowdTM technology to connect with their most engaged customers, and reward them for providing on-demand customer service that can flex in line with demand. Limitless is one of the world’s first global tech platforms to introduce localised platform terms to protect the rights of its gigging workers. Backed by AlbionVC, Downing Ventures and Unilever Ventures, Limitless is empowering people worldwide to earn money for providing brilliant customer service for the brands they love.