Customer-centric marketing: How to create a strategy that builds long-term trust and loyalty
Customer-centric marketing is a strategy that focuses on prioritizing customers and their unique needs at every interaction across the marketing funnel.
The marketing funnel is a useful tool, but it doesn’t represent the way most consumers shop. Rather than being a straightforward, one-way process, today’s customer journey more closely resembles constellations mapped across the stars.
Customers interact with brands throughout each day. They engage while researching products and placing orders online. They encounter brands when streaming music and movies, scrolling through social media feeds, and catching up on emails. Seventy-one percent of customers say they’ve used multiple channels to start and complete a single transaction. And 64 percent have used multiple devices to complete one purchase, according to a recent survey by Salesforce.1
Given today’s multichannel, individualized customer journey, how can advertisers meet customers where they are with relevant messaging at the right time?
Taking a customer-centric approach to marketing and advertising is a key step.
Customer-centric marketing is an all-around win. Customers value positive interactions with brands; those positive experiences help brands earn and maintain trust. The same Salesforce survey found that 73% of customers say one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies.2
Additionally, a customer-centric approach to marketing and advertising is an important long-term business strategy. Striving to improve the customer experience at every single advertising touchpoint is a strategy that can withstand changes in shopping behaviors, preferred channels, or major industry disruptions. Companies that prioritized and effectively managed the customer experience were three times likelier than their peers to have significantly exceeded their top business goals in 2019.3
For inspiration, and to illustrate what customer-centric marketing and advertising looks like, here’s how four brands took creative approaches to engage and delight customers across channels.
If you’re looking to create a customer-centric marketing strategy, like the brands above, consider these key steps: 1) approach the customer journey as a series of cycles, 2) understand your audience, 3) offer value at every customer interaction, and 4) measure and optimize.
Approach the customer journey as a series of cycles
By taking a full-funnel approach, and understanding that customers may be in any stage of the journey, find opportunities to appeal to various stages at each touchpoint—like taking a creative approach to branding on traditionally lower-funnel touchpoints, and ensuring there are call-to-actions (CTAs) or product information on upper-funnel engagements. By offering a positive experience, each touchpoint is an opportunity to inspire discovery, consideration, purchase, loyalty—or all of the above.
Better understand your audience
Having a multi-dimensional understanding of your audience is key to crafting messaging and creative that resonates; understand who your customers are, beyond demographics, and how they engage with your product. Going back to the Bacardi example, the company wasn’t only trying to reach consumers between a specific age range in set locations. Bacardi sought to engage new and experienced whisky drinkers who appreciated craft and luxury, and devised an experience that would appeal to them.
Or, say that you’re a hand cream company that recently made all your packaging more sustainable, and as a result, you have products that are part of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Friendly program. When reaching out to environmentally conscious audiences, like sustainable shoppers in market for consumables, you can feature creative about the new packaging and Climate Pledge Friendly certification—a message that may resonate more than leading with hand cream scents.
Offer value at every interaction
As the examples demonstrated, each brand strove to offer customers meaningful engagement at each touchpoint. The Honest Company’s offerings ranged from discounts to interactive livestreams with Jessica Alba. INFINITI developed complementary, immersive online and offline experiences. And VAPE’s creative approach shows how it’s even possible to make shopping for household staples—like insect repellent—fun and engaging.
Measure and optimize
The final component to creating a customer-centric marketing strategy is measuring and analyzing. Use data and analytics to find what’s working and what’s not, and develop creative ways to iterate accordingly.
You may learn that customizing creative resonates more with audiences—like VAPE did. An athletic wear company might discover that customers in Chicago respond better to creative set in their city, rather than generic streetscapes. With this insight, the company may decide to feature local images across key marketplaces. Or the hand cream company may want to test whether sustainability messaging around the Climate Pledge Friendly certification resonates with other audiences beyond environmentally conscious shoppers. These are just two ideas. For more inspiration, take a deeper dive into using measurement to develop a customer-centric advertising strategy.
For the last several years, offering customers a seamless omnichannel experience has been one of marketing’s holy grails. Taking a customer-centric approach to marketing and advertising is a key step in creating that experience. By offering value at every interaction, you can inspire discovery, consideration, purchase, or loyalty, no matter where in their journeys customers may be. And in doing so, we can start to connect the dots between all our customer touchpoints, and form constellations among the stars.