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Customer Experience Customer Engagement Customer Experience, CX

How brands can optimize their customer growth strategy



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March 29, 2023 | 6 min read

Having previously shared his insights on effective customer acquisition strategies, Acxiom’s chief client officer, Tate Olinghouse, turns his attention to customer growth

Having previously shared his insights on effective customer acquisition strategies, Acxiom’s chief client officer, Tate Olinghouse, turns his attention to customer growth. To see a return on investment in customer experience (CX), he says brands must deliver a positive return on experience. Here’s how to get it right.

In the face of some pretty strong economic headwinds, a lot of the brands I speak with are taking a back-to-basics approach to their digital marketing – focusing on customer acquisition, growth and retention.

I’ve written before about how brands can optimize their customer acquisition strategy by embracing agility and investing in new marketing technologies. So, let’s talk about the next step - growth.

Let’s assume you’ve put your acquisition strategy to work, and you’re seeing great success in acquiring a load of new customers. You’ve spent significant budget and effort to win them – no mean feat during times of inflation, when you’re competing over fewer conversion opportunities. (We know that consumer spending remains strong, but higher prices mean that people’s dollars are being spread over a smaller number of transactions.)

I remember meeting with a senior executive at a financial services firm and was asked this question: “How can you help me avoid the ‘sock drawer’ effect?”

As you might guess, I was puzzled. Responding to my request for clarity, their answer was pretty simple, “How do I avoid spending all of this money to acquire a customer only for my product to be stuffed away in their sock drawer (literally), never to be used again?”

That analogy gets to the heart of the issue - moving from a transaction to a relationship.

So, what do you do next? How do you grow your relationships with them? Ensure usage? How do you continue to stay relevant, while also being respectful? How do you avoid your brand being stuffed away in the “sock drawer?”

Want a return on marketing investment? Give them a return on experience

Simple. Yet, if it was easy, this would not be a topic of conversation.

When it comes to creating great customer experiences (CX), we talk a lot about the value exchange. If customers are sharing their dollars, their time, and their information with you, they expect you to use all the insights wisely - for their benefit.

How? It’s about delivering better, more personalized, experiences wherever they choose to interact with your brand. In fact, recent Acxiom research found nearly three-fourths of shoppers want their online retail experiences tailored to their personal preferences.

It is also about trust. Customers trust brands who demonstrate they understand their needs by providing offers that are relevant. They also trust brands that engage them in a respectful way – meaning, cadence, and preferred channel. People love to buy, buy again, and buy more from brands they trust.

If you want to keep your new customers happy, you must earn their trust and ensure the value exchange is at least fair one – or, even better, tipped in their favor.

4 ways to maximize your customers’ return on experience

I like to think about that balance in terms of the brand’s return on investment weighed against the customer’s return on experience. To maximize ROI, first you must maximize the return on experience you can give people. Here are four ways to get it right:

  • Demonstrate customer understanding and empathy by curating data and applying analytics that enable meaningful, personalized interactions, not just broadcasting generic communications for the sake of it.
  • Maintain the quality of experiences over time, because here’s the thing: your relationship with a customer is only as good as the last experience you gave them. A great first impression is critical, but consistency is just as important. With a robust foundation of customer data and identity, your ability to maintain quality and trust will only increase with time.
  • Stay agile in your engagements so you can respond in the moment as a customer’s experience unfolds. This relies on having a complete customer view that can be accessed in real time so your engagement strategy can be put to work wherever you meet your customers: on your website, on your app, on the phone, in person – anywhere.
  • Partner up with the right brands to create new win-win CX opportunities. With the rise of technologies like data clean rooms, data sharing has become a critical part of many brands’ digital strategies, which can be explored without compromising on data privacy and security. There are the classic co-marketing opportunities, for example between an airline and a hotel brand – but as the lines between industries blur, the potential for brand partnerships is exploding. Increasingly, the challenge is to identify and manage the right brand partnerships that will create symbiotic relationships. This is something that a data partner with experience across industries can help with.

From my experience, the data, tools, and know-how to create trust-based, relevant CXs for consumers are readily available. In fact, most brands already have the ingredients for success, it’s about putting them together in the right recipe.

Customer growth is about commitment

Ultimately, an effective customer growth strategy does one thing consistently: it honors your brand’s commitment to the customer. The commitment to create meaningful experiences that reflect their preferences and behaviors – not just for that first impression, but through every interaction thereafter.

So, make sure you consider both sides of the all-important value exchange. Return on investment in CX – in the form of growing relationships – is only possible when the customer gets a positive return on experience.

Customer Experience Customer Engagement Customer Experience, CX


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