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Today's consumers assume you know them and understand them—and that you can personalize their interactions online, offline, across devices, and so on. More and more of their experiences are being tailored to their interests; as a result, they expect every brand, big or small, to follow suit.

Consumers are also less patient with those who still mass-market and send irrelevant communications, and they've become more loyal to the ones who get it right: 72% now say they engage only with brands that personalize messaging.

But is it possible to actually please every single customer? And where do you even start?

Every CMO needs to consider the following three key priorities to offer the best customer experiences in the most effective ways possible.

1. Improvement

Although no brand can ensure an absolutely perfect experience for every customer, many brands have areas that obviously need improvement. Figure out where those top improvements need to be made within the business (strategies, results, team, tools, vendors). Those are a great place to start; then, from there, go on to improve other areas.

Take a long, honest look at your customers' experiences. You can and should know all of those experiences intimately. The content and messages you have across your site, the emails you send to customers and the timing of those emails, the way your customers interact in-store... you have a mental list of areas you know aren't great and could be improved, but they just don't seem to make your daily and weekly priority list. Change that.

Even the basics of welcome series emails, cart and browse abandonment campaigns, and sales and promotional strategies can be drastically improved. I've worked with brands that thought they were doing just fine because revenue was in line with expectations, but they altered a few tactics (timing of sends, types of messaging and content, and even subject lines), and they achieve significant improvement.

Also, don't just think about topline revenue—think about unsubscribe rates, lifetime value after you acquire a new customer, and clickthrough and visit frequency. Those metrics are leading indicators of long-term revenue and will help you diagnose and analyze the top improvements to tackle.

And if you're going to do any of those things correctly, you have to know who your customers are across all of the available touchpoints with your brand. Customer identity resolution is a critical to getting this right. Having data in silos that can't be connected doesn't do you any good, so harness the organizational structure and technology that enables you to unify your data and create the full picture of your customers' behavior.

2. Personalization

Bad personalization is actually worse than no personalization at all, and we've seen the data to support it: 63% of consumers say they would stop purchasing products and services from companies that implement poor personalization tactics. Accordingly, if you don't have a strategic marketing plan and a solid understanding of your customers, your marketing efforts may come off as haphazard and inauthentic, and they may signal that you just don't care about your customer.

You don't have to go all out with personalization across all fronts; at first, just be sure the incremental improvements you are making are focused and executed well. Start with the communication channels your customers engage with most and go from there. For many, that channel is email, then your website, and then possibly app/mobile site.

Batch-and-blast emails are still a strategy many marketers use, but consider tailoring mass sends to the intended recipient so they don't feel quite as generic. Incorporating product recommendations based on a customers' previous activity or recently browsed or carted items within the send is a good place to begin; it's a quick win.

Furthermore, consider pulling together your in-store and online data for better personalization. Use the point of sale information to understand your best customers accurately and to market to each individual how they want to be marketed to. If they love shopping in-store, stop wasting promotional dollars online for those customers, and vice versa—or activate that data to deliver messages that will get them back in store quicker. Drive traffic toward the goals you have as an organization by tailoring these techniques to exactly what you (and your customers) need.

3. Loyalty

Finally, satisfy your top customers as much as you possibly can. The old 80/20 rule applies here: A small segment of your customers accounts for a big percentage of your revenue. Identify those high-value customers and take the best care of them; they will be your best-performing segment.

That sounds obvious, but you'd be shocked at how many brands simply do not cater to those customers. First, you'll want to drive more and more customers into this segment by predicting lifetime value early and encouraging them to become repeat customers. Second, you'll want to pay close attention to current high LTV customers that are at risk of disengaging with your brand.

The way you message to this segment should be very different from how you reach out to your general consumer base. Consider using your loyalty program (or adding one), exclusive offers, and early-purchase opportunities, and market to the attrition risk group in a way that encourages them to re-engage (using compelling one-time use codes or free shipping, product recommendations, etc.).

* * *

As marketing leaders, you have a lot to think about every day, and the urgent can often overtake the important. But exceeding goals and growing your business is always goal No. 1. Start by focusing on the three priorities outlined in this article, and make the important become your most urgent task.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Michael Osborne

Michael Osborne is president and CEO of SmarterHQ, provider of a behavioral marketing platform.

LinkedIn: Michael Osborne

Twitter: @OsborneOsborne