Nearly a month after ExactTarget’s Connections 2014 conference has ended, the event’s overarching message – that the customer’s journey is the reward – is so relevant to my daily professional life that I find remnants of it almost everywhere I turn.
As marketers, we can mostly all agree that the ultimate goal of our profession is to obtain the coveted conversion – to assist the consumer in finding all of the necessary information they need to decide that what we’re offering will meet their needs and desires.
But at ExactTarget, they’ve embraced the idea that the journey – not necessarily the destination – is the reward. Like most inbound marketers, they know the game has changed and it’s no longer about pushing sales pitches and mass advertising onto customers. It’s about creating a one-to-one relationship and nurturing that connection until the consumer is ready to seal the deal.
Even after the status has been upgraded from “lead” to “client”, the work is not done. A freshly converted customer can’t be left hanging out to dry, trying to decide on their own if they made the right decision or not. They need personalized confirmation that they’ve opted-in to a mutually beneficial relationship that will reap benefits for years to come.
I heard this sentiment echo the loudest in a presentation from Jeffrey K. Rohrs (VP Marketing Insights, Salesforce Marketing Cloud) titled, “Make Mobile Moments Matter.” Below is my interpretation of his message.
Make Mobile Moments Matter
Rohrs quoted the ancient Chinese philosopher and poet Lao Tzu early in his presentation with a reminder that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
True – but it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly when considering all the steps required to reach the coveted conversion; awareness, consideration, purchase, retention, and advocacy are only major milestones in an otherwise long and convoluted path filled with distractions and competition.
Rohrs gave the following advice to help put things into perspective: the customer journey is comprised of a thousand moments and each one of those moments matters just as much as the one that preceded or follows it. By focusing on the present moment at hand and making it unmistakably memorable, marketers can stand out amongst the noise and take the customer one step closer to the next major milestone.
Optimize Known Moments
Rohrs points to our mobile, connected devices as the “moment makers” that enable marketers to create that unforgettable experience for customers. He suggests that marketers are nowhere close to taking full advantage of the potential that the ever-connected world provides. Brands must first optimize known moments (i.e. the proverbial low hanging fruit) before unearthing or creating entirely new moments.
One example of optimizing a known moment is the check-in process at a hotel. Rohrs cited an image displayed in the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino inviting guests to text a certain number for exclusive deals and updates during their stay. This is optimizing a known moment because it’s inevitable that guests will enter the lobby to check-in. Why not give them something to look at and offer them deals while they wait?
Uncover Hidden Moments
The next step is to uncover hidden moments. This means having the curiosity, creativity, and courage to explore a wild notion or idea and bring it to fruition. In following such a crazy idea, if you’re truly the first to do it, the end result is inherently differentiated from all other competitors.
The example used to illustrate this concept was the story of the Underwater Dogs series. The photographer behind the project, Seth Casteel, was down and out of luck in his pet photography business. In a desperate stroke of genius, he tried taking pictures of dogs underwater and the rest is history. The hilarious images went viral and he soon found himself as the owner of an entire line of Underwater Dogs merchandise.
Another example Rohrs offered was when Papa Johns sponsored the 2012 Super Bowl coin toss. The act of tossing a coin at the beginning of a game was nothing new, but the gamification of it was. Viewers were able to guess who they thought would win the coin toss by entering their email address to vote. Their motivation for giving up their contact info? A free large pizza and a Pepsi.
The lesson here is that opportunities to make mobile moments matter are squandered all the time. Only with curiosity, creativity, and courage can they be found and then transformed into a memorable experience for the consumer.
Create New Moments
If you think it takes a lot of creativity and innovation to uncover a hidden moment, you won’t believe the ingenuity required to create an entirely new one. As you might guess, it’s generating a moment that uniquely combines elements and ideas that have never been paired together before.
An extreme example of this concept is the Hijack promotion created by Meatpack, a shop for sneakerheads based in Guatemala. Watch the video to see how truly ground-breaking their concept is.
Meatpack already had a base of devoted fans carrying and using their app. And they were already known for their unheard of discounts. But what was missing was an interactive element, which is how combining the app, GPS tracking technology, and a time-sensitive element led to the creation of an entirely new and novel moment – the moment they were hijacked from a competitor.
Think of the word-of-mouth publicity on social media that must have resulted from the “victims” of the hijack, not to mention earned media from envious marketing agencies who wish they could have come up with the idea themselves.
Rohrs concluded his presentation at Connections by reminding us that almost all effective marketing is now direct. Today’s consumer expects a seamless, personalized, one-to-one experience when communicating with brands. They want marketing to be a two-way conversation where they can share their feedback and have confidence that it was heard. And most importantly, it’s about the collective effect of memorable experiences – from mobile moments to email communication to social interaction – created at all points along the customer’s path to conversion and, ultimately, advocacy.
Indeed, the journey is the reward.