Big Business is driving Customer Experience as the Engine of a Marketing Strategy

Posted By Simon Clark

5 December 2017 - 14:25pm

Marketing can trace its routes back to Edward Bernays who’s famous seminal piece Propaganda catapulted corporate marketing strategies into the spotlight. Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, recognised that group manipulation can create a desire or want for products that have no real necessity to a customer. He recognised this as a result of Allied war propaganda and how it was successful in winning the first world war. Bernays saw that if propaganda can be used for war, it can also be used in peace times. This resulted in the birth of public relations and the birth of marketing. 

Marketing has been around since corporations have been around, but only recently has it really made prominent headway, it is important to understand the function of marketing which is to ‘move a recipient towards a predetermined point of view, by using simple images and slogans which truncate thought by playing on prejudices and emotions,’ (Pratkanis and Turner). Traditionally, marketing before the digital boom would feature mainly on billboards, radio and television. The techniques used were simple yet effective. As noted above, slogans, colour schemes, models and symbols all play an integral role in a marketing campaigns in order for businesses to create a desire and need amongst consumers for their product.


"74% of consumers now rely on social media for purchasing decisions"

More recently, we have seen a dramatic shift in marketing techniques due to the digital boom and social media era. Businesses are now focusing their marketing towards social media. Why? Due to the huge audience they can reach for such a small cost in comparison to traditional methods. But more importantly, 74% of consumers now rely on social media for purchasing decisions (Gartner). Customers are now, more than ever, relating a brand’s social media presence and activity to their products. A study conducted recently by London School of Economics found that social media reviews substantially influence customer choice and satisfaction (LSE, 2017). This shift in priority from traditional marketing to digital marketing is made evident with expected digital marketing expenditure to reach $10.4 Billion in the UK in 2017, compared to just $4 Billion in TV advertising (Statisa). It is clear that social media and other forms of digital marketing are now much more valuable to business than the traditional outlets once favoured.

However, whilst it is clear consumers consult social media and other digital platforms whilst contemplating purchases, consumers do not prefer this method of marketing. Research by Kantar Media suggests that UK consumers feel significantly more positive about advertising on traditional outlets, than they do about online formats. In a survey, 33% said they actively dislike seeing advertising on online video services and search engines, while 30% dislike being served ads in news and articles online. In contrast, only 13% and 14% of consumer’s dislike seeing ads in printed newspapers and printed magazines. This distaste for marketing online occurs because we as consumers recognised it as the norm to encounter advertisements on TV and radio because it has always been so. When the digital age began, marketing did not immediately target it and we did not associate digital platforms with marketing. Whilst these statistics currently show that we dislike advertisements spoiling our catch-up TV online, it could be argued that the statistics would reflect differently in 10 years’ time as the consumer will simply see digital marketing as the norm.


"12 positive experiences to repair the damage caused by one unresolved negative experience" 

The shift, more recently, has seen customer experience become the new buzzword as marketing once was. In fact, it could be said that businesses are crafting their marketing strategy around their customer experience. Why has this recently become mainstream? Well, quite simply, customers are more demanding than ever – It takes 12 positive experiences to repair the damage caused by one unresolved negative experience, therefore it is obvious that big businesses need to ensure the customer journey is a memorable one. Whilst marketing is integral to any business in acquiring new custom, marketing does not result in sales and retention, that falls at the door of customer experience. It is clear that businesses do not focus enough on the retention of their customers as for every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them. (Econsultancy, 2016) Conversion and retention comes directly from the customer experience. As a result, it is quite clear why businesses are now focusing on customer experience as much as marketing. The problem for marketing is that currently the scope of marketing is very narrow. Their focus is purely on the acquisition of new custom. Until they realise that they must narrow their responsibility, businesses will continue to see the same trends, that acquisition does not result in retention.


"For every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them" 

How can this be done? Well, marketing and customer experience must work synonymously with one another. Marketing campaigns must run in correlation with the customer experience that occurs in-store, online or social media. This will result in a seamless transition from acquisition to retention as the customer journey will remain consistent throughout. But currently, Marketeer’s glorify a product or brand or experience that does not then translate into the same experience for the customer. They were sold by the hyperbole of the campaign, leaving them feeling dissatisfied with their end experience. This will only change when the marketing campaign and the customer journey mirror one another, in order for this to occur marketing and customer experience must be synonymous.  

In 2017, we have seen a shift in attitude, with many big name brands finally recognising that without customer experience, marketing is meaningless. An example of this is the recent promotion received by Ian Cairns, who moves away from his marketing role into the new position of director of customer. Not only this, but M&S have recently restructured their entire business to make customer data more accessible to its staff, why? In order to tailor and personalise their service towards their customers. If more members of staff have access to this data, the better it can be deployed in their stores. McDonald’s are also switching their focus to customer experience through allocating more funds to digital, this makes the ordering process more convenient to the customer as has been seen recently in their launch of McDelivery through UberEATS. As I have discussed throughout this piece, it is clear that times are now changing and in order to retain customers, big business is now driving customer experience as the engine of any marketing strategy.    

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