Why Customer Engagement Is Outweighing Customer Management

Two years ago, an almost prophetic post on Forbes.com declared, “Experience Based Marketing FTW.” Although the multiscreen lifestyle was beginning to balloon back in 2011, the tablet takeover and ever-decreasing consumer attention span have made marketing messaging a thing of the past.

Inundated with media, users aren’t slowing to hear — or read — your sales pitch. Right now, consumers are dictating the market, and they want integrated experiences, not interruption ads. Focusing on your users’ needs and experiences isn’t just trendy — it’s essential.

The 6 Consumer Expectations

So maybe those are great insights, but what’s actionable? How do you adapt your traditional marketing message campaigns to multi-touch, experiential campaigns? Easy. Direct Marketing News recently summarized the keys to experience marketing in 6 consumer expectations:

  • Customers expect a great experience with each contact and department they encounter.
  • A focus on customer experience must be evident in every element of your media.
  • Quality is expected throughout the entire customer lifecycle, not just acquisition and renewal.
  • Customers want their preferences to guide your messaging, timing, frequency and media type.
  • Communication should be personalized based on these preferences and cater to specific needs.
  • Customer outreach is about engaging customers, not managing them.

These takeaways too high level? Check out how one of Forbes’ Fast Tech 25 companies applied these and made SXSW 2013 all about engaging customers — no customer management required.

Putting the Plan in Action

When Rackspace’s marketing team sat down to brainstorm strategy for the 2013 SXSW Interactive Conference, one thing topped their list: customer experience. Sure, every marketer (and CMO) loves real-time metrics and instantly measurable ROI, but Rackspace was willing to accept a delayed ROI in order to focus on engaging customers at the conference to generate future leads and sales.

Rather than focus only on social media or traditional placement ads, Rackspace left no channel untouched. In a sense, they hijacked SXSW with

  • Shrink-wrapped public buses
  • Free (non-branded) T-shirts
  • Live and planned social strategies
  • The Open Cloud HQ, where Rackers decked out Champions Sports Bar with banners, news crews, a band, a developer zone, charging stations, giveaways and internal recruiting

From Silicon Valley’s Mineta San Jose International Airport terminals to inundating Twitter with #SXRackspace hashtags, Rackspace’s influence at SXSW was inescapable and, more importantly, impactful. The ads, social promotions and interactive conference sessions didn’t focus on sales; they focused on user needs and building lasting relationships with young entrepreneurs and tech giants alike.

Rackspace’s huge engagement efforts got the company more than just brand awareness and customers feeling satisfied — they got real sales. Less than four months following SXSW, Rackspace’s experience campaign had more than paid for itself. So impactful was its integrated marketing campaign, that Twitter recently released a case study chronicling the web hosting leader’s success, reporting a 27 percent increase of share of voice and more than 1.5 million social impressions. To learn more about Rackspace’s integrated campaign, check out its Upping Our Marketing Game infographic.

Experience Trumps Message

Rackspace’s success at SXSW is just one example of how experience marketing is winning over consumers. Unfortunately, it’s more common for brands to ignore customer experience and consequently several are fading from the scene: Gateway, Dell, Warner Brothers and many more.

Take a cue from your customers and focus on them. It might not be traditional, but you can’t deny experiences are beating out messages every day in our media-driven world.

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