Take your customers on a digital journey they’ll never forget

Lottie Namakando

Head of Paid Media

Focus on the customer experience

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a Digital Travel Marketing Conference on the slightly side topic relative to my day-to-day of Customer Experience (CX). Whilst as head of paid media and planning it may not be immediately obvious why I chose this theme, however optimising paid media performance in the platform and engaging customers with thumb-stopping creative is only half the story.

Onsite customer experience has a huge impact on our campaigns’ performance. Just ask yourself, if you search specifically for a brand, clicked a hyper relevant and personalised ad, only to be delivered a slow, generic website which isn’t user friendly, you wouldn’t consider going elsewhere, I know I have.

What is important to your customers?

At iCrossing UK we make data-led decisions, understanding what the best user experience is for a consumer. We don’t use hunches, or biased POV, but research from Hearst, Statista, Accenture, Kantar, GWI and others to really understand what matters to consumers and more importantly, what they expect from brand engagement. It’s incredible the number of times we work with brands who tell us who they think their audience is and what is important to them, which so often can be based on outdated insights or trends. However, I’m not here to talk about Audience Intelligence, but to discuss how these types of insights are so valuable to transforming your brand’s customer journey to improve the performance of all your marketing channels.

For the session, the main data points we focused on specifically for the travel sector were:

  • 62% of people once they find a brand they like, they tend to stick to it (GWI)

  • 78% of people look for the best deals

  • 68% of people do not necessarily go with a specific holiday company

Just re-emphasising the challenges of brand loyalty and saliency in the sector, people are more focused on price, than brand. And let’s be honest, this focus won’t be going away any time soon. So, the challenge for brands is; how do you convince someone to buy from you, even if your competitors are slightly cheaper? You offer a stellar customer experience.

Why you should focus on the post-purchase period of the purchase cycle

Another key insight from Google is that 95% of people keep visiting travel related sites after booking, and 74% of people research a trip after completing a booking. Forrester insights have shown that brands are still focusing on the pre-purchase stage of the cycle, and less on the post-purchase phase. Think about your own purchase cycle. What’s more front of mind when you make a repeat purchase, the initial contact you had with the brand when they wanted you to buy, or the more recent experience post purchase, when you needed support with returns or looking for advice?

What should you do with your customer journey to improve brand re-engagement and consumer consideration?
  • 90% of customers mention authenticity as a factor in selecting a brand

  • 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a retailer who can personalise their experience

Nearly 70% of customers abandon cart, in part due to user experience on site

These insights can be the three points of your triangle to start with, when developing your customer experience. That experience needs to be authentic, speaking to consumers’ needs , and feel true to who you are as a brand. It needs a level of personalisation which is relevant to the consumer and assists with their journey. And finally, it needs to be easy to use. With attention spans ever diminishing, you only have a short amount of time to make an impact. So, make it simple, usable, and engaging, considering the whole customer journey.

Where to start

Developing a CX is in theory straightforward, but the reality is often quite different. Here are the biggest challenges brands have with developing a step-change in their customer journey

Company buy-in – everyone needs to know and understand why CX is so important to the business

Map the CX elements to the business goals – make the purpose tangible from a profit perspective

Develop organisational partnerships – establish and foster champions and working groups which span across the business brough together with the single goal of developing an award winning CX

A centre of excellence team whose purpose it is to work on these projects can really give focus and motivation.

Three places to start

Start to explore your current CX ad to identify areas of improvement, asking these questions:

  1. Do you know why customers purchase from you versus your competitors?

  2. Are you personalising the digital experience for customers on site?

  3. Are you paying enough attention to customer retention and LTV and how to improve it?

In conclusion

In sectors such as travel, where customer loyalty poses a challenge, you can improve customer lifetime value by focusing on CX, delivering customers simple, usable and engaging journeys to purchase and repeat purchase. Whilst the pre-purchase stages are important, don’t forget your post-purchase CX, which in many cases is the most recent experience a customer will have prior to repeat purchase. Developing a strong CX isn’t an easy task, but by starting with small steps, insights into what you need to achieve and getting a team together to make it happen, steady progress can be made.

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