In my first blog of this series on “Are You Prepared for the New Experience Battlefront?” I discussed the disruption digital marketing has caused to long-standing marketing practices and principles.
Gaining market share has always been a battle, and it continues to be the ultimate prize. What has changed dramatically is the battlefront. The fight is no longer about attracting and retaining customers with competitive prices, quality, or brand equity. Delivering a great customer experience is now the key to growth and success.
In this second blog, I am focusing on two key changes to the experience battlefront: the dynamic terrain and changing competitive landscape.
Navigating shifting terrain
The experience battlefield was once limited to a small set of tactics, media outlets, channels, and events. It was a place where brands set the pace and controlled the message, telling customers what they wanted and when, as well as where and how they could get it.
The internet has brought an era of unprecedented technology innovation, explosion of new devices, channels, platforms, and media has created a dynamic, real-time world. The result has been a transformative power shift from the brand to the customer:
- Customers once had limited choice. Today they have the ability to quickly and easily understand and compare all of their options.
- Customers once had access to limited information across a few traditional channels (TV, magazines, radio, in store). Now they have have real-time access to unlimited information across thousands of websites, channels and platforms via multiple devices wherever they are.
- Customers once made choices independently. They can now instantly connect to millions of consumers around the world through social media channels and reviews.
Consumers now set the pace and make the demands. They expect brands to deliver anytime, anywhere access to information and services—when, where, and how they want them. They also expect brands to treat them as individuals, to know them, remember their preferences, and to interact with them in ways that are meaningful.
Today, the experience battlefield is a multi-dimensional space where brands must operate skillfully both in-store and through online experiences. Most companies are marketing to customers across an average of 23 different channels according to Aprimo’s insights. That requires brands to deliver engaging and relevant content continuously.
The terrain is also constantly shifting beneath our feet with the rapid introduction of new technologies, platforms, and channels. And it will continue to change in ways we can’t begin to predict.
How do you Succeed in a Changing Competitive Landscape
Perhaps one shift you’ve already seen is that more competitors have entered your space recently—both locally and globally. There are those enemies on the battlefield that you compete with directly for market share. Some may be traditional, brick and mortar businesses that have added a digital component. Others enemies may be digitally-native businesses operating solely online.
Whatever the case, digital has changed the pace and scope of the competitive landscape dramatically:
- Brands once competed using scripted media and content. Today, they are under enormous pressure to create interactive experiences, which that requires a continuous flow of fresh, relevant content.
- Brands once competed in markets where innovation was slow; they had lots of time to react. Now brands are dealing with constant disruptive innovation and the window to respond and adapt is very small.
- Brands used to have limited amounts of data to manage and analyze. Today, they are struggling to figure out how to manage and harness the massive amounts of data flowing into their systems on a daily basis. This data is critical to optimizing the customer experience.
There’s another potential enemy you may not recognize – your customer. In the digital age, customers are just as powerful, if not more so, than your direct competitors. They have the ability to reach thousands, even millions, of other consumers instantly about your brand – without spending a dime. They are more than willing to share their honest opinion of their experience with you on websites and across social media.
Bad experiences can lead to bad reviews and negative comments. Aside from posting a response, marketers can’t control the momentum negative reviews and comments can create. With nearly 95% of shoppers reading online reviews before making a purchase,[i] the impact of poor customer experiences can have a significant negative impact on a brand’s reputation and sales.
Finally, you are also competing against the best experiences customers have with other brands – regardless of industry. Whether it’s Starbucks, Apple, or Amazon, your consumers now realize what a great customer experience is—and they want it from all their brands.
- Seamless experience they get from brands like Apple across their devices and in store
- Ease of use and the convenience they get from Amazon
- Speed, benefits, and trustworthiness like they get from Starbucks using the rewards app
- Renowned in-store and online customer service they get from Nordstrom’s
- Exciting in-store and beyond-store experiences they get from REI and Nike, like access to rock walls and basketball courts, running clubs, and adventure
- Great integrated online and in-store experiences they get from Crate & Barrel with the ability to visualize a room online, then buy online, but pick up in store without incurring any shipping fees
Delivering these great omnichannel customer experiences requires tremendous work and organization behind the scenes. Marketing operations plays a huge role in creating a great customer experience and helping a brand stay competitive. And managing the entire Content Lifecycle is imperative to success.
Learn more about how you can navigate the shifting terrain and new competitive landscape. Read our new eBook: “Are You Prepared for the New Experience Battlefront? Reverse Engineering the CX to Outmaneuver Competitors and Delight Customers.”
And look for my next blog in this series where I’ll talk about why brands need to update their marketing tactics and forge new internal alliances to deliver an ongoing, great customer experience.