Customer Experience

How Digital Marketing Builds Customer Loyalty

In today's highly competitive business landscape, focusing solely on customer acquisition is not enough to drive long-term success. Equally as important is building lasting relationships and loyalty among customers. Statistics show it costs 5-25x more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. That's why customer loyalty and retention are critical for sustaining business growth.  Luckily, digital marketing provides a variety of effective tactics for fostering meaningful engagement between brands and audiences. Integrated digital strategies can nurture customer relationships over time and increase brand affinity. Here's an overview of how digital marketing channels help build lasting customer loyalty. Engagement and Relationships Social Media for Loyalty Programs and Promotion Social platforms like Facebook and Instagram are ideal for promoting loyalty programs and limited-time promotions. Brands can easily announce rewards, point systems, special offers, and contests to followers. Social media also enables brands to highlight and recognize top customers, fostering a sense of community. Interactive features like live videos and Stories empower real-time engagement with customers in an authentic way. Email Marketing and Newsletters  Email allows for more personalized, one-on-one communication between brands and customers. Newsletters, in particular, nurture the customer relationship by providing valuable, relevant content on a consistent basis. Promotional emails can offer exclusive deals or early access to loyal subscriber lists. Welcome series, cart abandonment flows, and milestone campaigns also develop lasting connections. Interactive Content Like Quizzes and Polls Content like online quizzes, assessments, interactive calculators, and polls prompt customers to engage further with a brand. This two-way communication collects customer data while entertaining and delighting audiences. Brands can then leverage data points to customize messaging. Interactive content provides value and gives brands a reason to follow up with customers. Personalization Data Collection for Customized Messaging Digital marketing tools make it easy to gather customer data like demographics, contact info, browsing history, purchase history, interests, and more. Brands can then break audiences into segments and tailor content and messaging to individual interests. Personalized email subject lines, social media ads, web content, and notifications make customers feel recognized. Targeted Ads Based on Consumer Preferences Platforms like Google and Facebook allow brands to serve highly targeted ads to specific customer segments. For example, customers who browsed hiking gear may be served up ads for hiking trips and accessories. Customers who purchased certain items may see ads for complementary products. Retargeting past customers helps brands stay top of mind. Recommendation Engines Brand websites can implement algorithms or AI that recommend products based on past purchases and browsing behavior. This personalized experience shows customers that brands understand their preferences. Recommendation engines encourage repeat purchases and long-term loyalty by proactively offering relevant products. Loyalty Programs with Tailored Rewards Loyalty programs can use tiers, points, or milestones personalized for each customer. Special rewards, gift boxes, or experiences can be unlocked based on their unique purchase history and habits. Customers feel recognized for their ongoing support of the brand. Convenience  Omnichannel Experience Across Devices Connecting with customers across devices like desktop, mobile, tablets, and in-store provides a seamless omnichannel experience. Loyalty programs and promotions can be accessed anywhere. Consistent branding and messaging reinforce the relationship. Convenience builds loyalty and trust. Simplified Purchase Process Features like stored payment methods, pre-filled info, and one-click checkout make it effortless for repeat customers to purchase again. Smart recommendation engines suggest the most relevant products. Reduced friction encourage customers to stick with brands that make their lives easier. FAQs and Support via Chatbots Thorough FAQ pages and chatbots that provide 24/7 instant support demonstrate a dedication to customer service. The convenience of getting real-time answers encourages loyalty and advocacy. Customers are more patient with brands that offer self-service resources. Trust Consistent Branding Across Channels Maintaining consistent branding, voice, and messaging across digital channels helps build familiarity and trust. Customers gain peace of mind knowing what to expect from interactions with the brand at every touchpoint. A steady experience translates into higher loyalty. Customer Reviews and Testimonials   Displaying authentic customer reviews, ratings and testimonials across digital platforms greatly impacts trust and sentiment. Peer validation from other real customers provides social proof that convinces potential buyers to put faith in the brand. Responsive Customer Service Providing responsive, caring customer service via digital channels like email, live chat, messaging apps, and social media reinforces trust. Quickly resolving issues demonstrates the brand's dependability and commitment to making customers happy.   Secure Transactions and Data Protecting customer data with encryption and other cybersecurity measures ensures customers feel safe sharing information. Following through on privacy policies builds confidence with customers. Loyalty requires trust in how brands handle sensitive data. Conclusion While acquiring new customers is important for short-term gains, customer loyalty drives the long-term growth and profitability of a business. Digital marketing channels provide a robust set of options for brands to build lasting customer relationships over time. An integrated strategy that leverages data-collection, personalization, convenience, trust, and engagement fosters higher brand affinity and loyalty. Ultimately retaining happy, life-long customers through digital engagement is the key to sustaining success.

How Social Media Transformed College Students' News Habits

The advent of social media has fundamentally reshaped how college students consume news. Where once students actively sought out news from traditional sources like newspapers and TV, now endless streams of content come to them through platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. This shift from active to passive news consumption, formation of new media habits, and the continued role of traditional media has transformed the student news experience. Active Choice, Passive Consumption For decades, consuming news and information required an active choice and intentional effort by individuals. Reading a newspaper meant physically obtaining a print copy, turning the pages, and selectively reading articles. Watching television news involved turning on the TV, selecting a station or program, and concentrating on the broadcast. Even visiting news websites required actively navigating to a specific URL in order to access content.  The rise of social media has fundamentally altered this relationship by enabling much more passive consumption of news. The main difference lies in how content is delivered to audiences. With traditional media, the onus was on consumers to seek out news and information through their own active choices. But social platforms flip this pattern by actively delivering content to users without any effort required on their part. After making some initial active choices to follow certain accounts, subscribe to news alerts, or personalize content feeds, users are then presented with an endless stream of updates and information with no further action needed. The content comes to them. This creates a more passive consumption environment where users scroll through updates without much conscious thought or intentionality behind their news intake. Various studies reveal that college students actively seek out news from digital and social media at first. They intentionally add news organizations, journalists, and influencers to their social feeds on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. However, once these active preferences are set, the actual consumption of news becomes much more passive in nature.  The design of social platforms facilitates this shift. Features like endless scrolling and content recommendations based on past behaviors remove the need for users to actively seek out news items themselves. The social media environment makes it remarkably easy to slip into autopilot mode, passively consuming post after post without any deliberate choice.  Researchers have found that college students end up spending significantly more time passively consuming user-generated news content on social media than they originally intended when they made the initial active choice to access these platforms. This suggests that after the original active decision to use social media for news, the actual intake becomes increasingly passive. The platforms effectively remove the need for ongoing active selection. Furthermore, the ubiquity and convenience of mobile technology has enhanced these passive consumption tendencies. Smartphones give users constant access to tap into the passive stream of social media news at any moment of boredom or downtime throughout the day. This ambient, always-available, passive consumption further ingrains social media news habits among college students. In summary, while college students actively choose to use social platforms for news at first, the actual consumption patterns quickly morph into much more passive intake. The endless stream of content served to users removes the need for continued active selection. This understanding of the active-to-passive shift enabled by social media provides important context about the transformation of news habits among college students in the digital age. New Media Consumption Habits The rise of social media as a news source has led to the formation of entirely new media consumption habits among college students. Habit formation theory explains how when behaviors are repeated consistently over time, they can morph into automatic actions that are performed habitually with minimal conscious thought and effort. Obtaining news from social platforms perfectly fits this model. What originally starts as an intentional, active choice to get news from sites like Facebook and Twitter evolves into a daily habit through recurrent use. The act of checking social media for news updates shifts from being an active decision to becoming an ingrained habit.  Several new media consumption habits centered around social platforms are now commonplace among college students. Scrolling endlessly through Facebook feeds, checking Twitter at routine intervals, and glancing at smartphone notification from news apps have all become habitual behaviors that students engage in automatically as part of their daily routines. These habits form because social media usage becomes a repeated, rewarding behavior. Features like personalized news feeds and "Like" buttons activate the brain's reward centers. Students feel compelled to check back frequently to get fresh content and validation. The more this cycle repeats, the more habitual the behavior becomes. Social media companies actively encourage this process through engineered habits. Platform algorithms learn from user data to serve personalized content that will maximize engagement. Push notifications tap into psychological tendencies, trained through variable reward reinforcement. All of this nudges users from intentional, active consumption toward passive, habitual usage. Additionally, the ubiquitous access to social media through smartphones enhances habit formation. With a tap, news is available 24/7, enabling students to form habits of accessing platforms continually throughout the day during any bored or transitional moment. This consistent repetition further ingrains social media news habits. In surveys, college students readily admit to habitual social media news consumption, with a majority reporting they check platforms like Facebook multiple times per day without even thinking about it. The initial active decision to use social media for news has clearly evolved into a set of habits demonstrating more passive, repetitive consumption. This understanding of how social media fosters new habitual media consumption behaviors among college students provides unique insight. It explains how previously intentional actions transform into passive, rote, habitual engagement. These habitual media consumption patterns will likely persist and shape how students get their news long into the future. Impact on Traditional Media  The meteoric rise of digital and social media led some to predict the imminent demise of traditional news platforms, including print newspapers, broadcast TV news, and radio. However, current research reveals a much more complex and nuanced relationship between new and old media. In the early days of the web, some scholars assumed that college students would completely abandon traditional news outlets in favor of flashy new digital options. But data now clearly shows students still actively use and value both legacy and emerging media formats. They just do so in different ways and for different needs. Rather than directly competing against each other in a zero-sum game, social media and traditional news channels actually complement one another. Each format serves distinct purposes for students.  For example, a student may first hear about a major developing news event on Twitter or Facebook through the passive stream. But they then seek out more in-depth coverage and analysis on that topic from traditional outlets like newspapers, TV news, radio, or news websites.  Similarly, a student may watch an important story on the nightly network news, sparking interest to discuss and share the news with their peers on social platforms. Traditional media drives the discovery, while social media enables the discussion. In this manner, the two categories of media augment each other. Social media provides the always-on passive stream to stay constantly updated. But traditional media fills the need to dive deeper into stories and gain more thoughtful reporting and narrative. Each plays a unique role in keeping students informed and connected. This relationship explains why traditional news consumption remains resilient among college students, even amidst the social media explosion. In a recent study of students' daily media habits, over half reported reading a newspaper or visiting a newspaper website every day. Two-thirds said they get news from TV on a daily basis.  While social media has clearly emerged as the first stop and main news source for college students, traditional media still fills important gaps in coverage and analysis. After hearing about a story on social media, students intentionally seek out legacy media for a more substantive perspective.  The demise of traditional news among college students has been greatly exaggerated. Rather than wiping out old media, social platforms have found a way to co-exist, finding complementary niches. Both new and old media are actively used by students, just in different ways and for different needs.   This understanding helps explain why traditional campus newspapers, TV stations, and radio shows continue to play a vital role in informing college students in the digital age. They provide trusted depth and perspective to complement the passive stream of social updates. This relationship is likely to continue evolving new symbiotic ways forward rather than one format fully displacing the other. Conclusion In conclusion, social media has clearly become the primary news source for college students today. The passive delivery of content has made news consumption increasingly habitual and effortless. However, traditional media still fills critical gaps by offering depth and analysis. This symbiotic relationship demonstrates how both legacy and emerging formats continue to inform students in complementary ways. As new platforms and behaviors emerge, understanding these evolving news consumption habits will be key for effectively reaching college audiences.

Managing the Customer Experience in an Omnichannel World

The rapid growth of omnichannel commerce has made delivering superior customer experience critical for business success. Today's consumers fluidly switch between devices, contexts, and touchpoints as they engage with brands. Providing a seamless, consistent journey across channels is imperative for satisfying and retaining customers. However, organizational obstacles, data challenges, and rapidly evolving technologies make omnichannel experience management extremely difficult. In this article, we explore the barriers companies face in managing holistic customer experience. We then outline best practices and enabling technologies to overcome these hurdles. By adopting customer-centric structures, leveraging data, and coordinating contextual interactions, brands can optimize journeys for omnichannel excellence. Barriers to Omnichannel Customer Experience While delivering consistent omnichannel customer experiences is clearly important, significant impediments prevent brands from effectively managing holistic journeys. Major barriers include: Organizational Silos and Poor Data Integration Many brands still have separate teams, technologies, and data for each channel. Most marketing departments are structured around specialties like social media, email, SEO, mobile apps. Customer service, sales, IT, analytics all operate in silos.  These disconnected structures spawn fragmented systems and data. Customer data gets trapped in channel-specific platforms. Journey interactions fall through the cracks. Marketing lacks visibility into sales and service data. Service can't see past marketing exposures or current campaigns.  This makes it impossible to connect the dots across touchpoints and quantify how customer experience drives satisfaction and business results. Lack of shared customer data prevents unified analytics and consistent omnichannel personalization. Success requires a coordinated effort to consolidate data into an integrated foundation. But breaking down stubborn organizational silos remains an immense challenge. Turf wars emerge as power dynamics shift. New metrics may reveal poor performance. People cling to channel-specific tools. True integration is rare. Difficulty Quantifying Impact on Business Outcomes Given fragmented systems and data, it is extremely difficult for brands to accurately evaluate omnichannel customer experience and its impact on key business outcomes. Quantifying the return on experience investments has been the top CX challenge.  Many brands still rely on outdated attribution methods like last-click or first-click. These silo impacts into single channels when journeys increasingly span many touchpoints. Sophisticated analytics are needed to connect journeys with satisfaction, loyalty, and revenue. Observational data shows correlations but not causal impact. Running valid statistical models requires advanced capabilities. Long feedback loops make linking journeys to lagging indicators like revenue tough. Surveys have bias and small samples. Without the ability to quantify journeys' influence on outcomes, brands cannot optimize experience investments or prove CX ROI. But measuring omnichannel customer experience impact remains a persistent struggle. Rapidly Evolving Digital Technologies and Channels Consumer adoption of new mobile apps, personal devices, IoT, and emerging tech continues accelerating. The digital landscape evolves at a dizzying pace. Just as brands master current channels, game-changing innovations disrupt everything. Keeping pace with customer usage and expectations across contexts is an endless race. Adoption trends constantly force brands to play catch-up. Large technology investments carry high switching costs but face quick obsolescence. Falling behind on digital capabilities has become existential. This breakneck speed of change coupled with long development cycles makes it hard for brands to keep customer experience aligned across devices. By the time capabilities launch, consumer behaviors have shifted again. Perpetual disruption hinders omnichannel excellence. In summary, organizational silos, data fragmentation, poor analytics, and rapid digital change have created immense barriers for brands hoping to manage integrated omnichannel customer journeys. Overcoming these hurdles requires fundamental shifts. Journey-Focused Organizational Roles and Culture - Successful brands realign their organizational structure around the customer journey to foster cross-functional collaboration. They create new roles like journey managers who are accountable for specific journeys end-to-end. - Journey managers lead cross-functional teams with members from IT, operations, marketing, sales, service, analytics and more. Together, they map out and optimize high-priority journeys. - Shared key performance indicators (KPIs), incentives, planning processes and governance reinforce the journey-focused culture. Customer experience becomes a shared responsibility across the organization. Unified Customer Data Foundation - Leading brands invest in customer data platforms to create a "single source of truth" by consolidating data from disparate sources into unified customer profiles. - APIs and connectors integrate new real-time data streams from digital channels and IoT. Identity resolution links devices, sessions and interactions to individual people. - This unified data powers analytics and enables the delivery of omnichannel experiences using comprehensive customer context instead of channel-specific silos. Analytics to Understand Friction Points  - Analytics help identify pain points across channels that inhibit customers from achieving their goals and completing journeys successfully. - Voice of the customer, behavioral/interaction data, and operational data are all required to get a holistic view and find root causes. - Dashboards visualize trends and journeys to easily spot areas for improvement. Prioritization is based on potential business impact. Contextual Real-Time Interactions Across Channels - AI and technologies like chatbots enable companies to deliver consistent, contextual interactions across channels in real-time. - Recommendations and offers take into account a customer's current journey status and past history to be situationally relevant. - Context and insights are retained seamlessly through handoffs between human and digital channels. Continuous Improvement Driven by Customer Insights - Leading companies build cultures of rapid experimentation to continuously innovate and improve journeys. - Cross-functional scrum teams quickly build, test and iterate digital experience prototypes based on customer insights. - Tight feedback loops with customers accelerate learning. Features that improve journeys are released frequently. In summary, adopting journey-focused organizational models, unifying data, leveraging analytics, interacting contextually, and rapidly innovating allows brands to understand customers, anticipate needs and optimize experiences across touchpoints. Enabling Technologies There are four key technology categories that act as enablers to make omnichannel customer experience management achievable: Customer Data Platforms - Customer data platforms (CDPs) consolidate customer data from disparate sources into unified customer profiles with a single view of each individual.  - They break down data silos across channels, systems and business units by centralizing data into a single repository. - CDPs ingest both batch and real-time data streams through APIs and connectors. Identity resolution matches data to individuals. - Unified profiles power analytics and personalization while data governance maintains consumer privacy and compliance. Journey Analytics Software - Journey analytics software reveals insights from customer behavior over time across channels. - It connects data across systems to map full journeys and quantify business impact. AI pinpoints friction points inhibiting success. - Visual journey dashboards easily spot trends and areas for improvement. Prioritization is data-driven based on potential ROI. - Analytics democratization enables business teams to self-serve insights and answer questions in minutes without advanced analytics skills.  Journey Orchestration Platforms  - Journey orchestration platforms take actions to optimize experiences in real-time using customer journey context. - They deliver consistent, omnichannel engagements across digital and human channels. Interactions are contextually relevant. - Orchestration retains context and insights across channels enabling seamless handoffs between touchpoints. - Easy-to-use interfaces allow marketers to define triggers, actions and rules to optimize journeys. Flexible IT Architecture - Successful customer experience management requires flexible, cloud-based technology architecture.  - APIs and microservices allow rapid integration of new data sources, channels and applications. - Hybrid and multi-cloud deployments prevent vendor lock-in. Headless CMSs separate content from delivery. - Continuous delivery optimizes deployment speed. Automation increases reliability and scalability. In summary, brands leverage customer data platforms, journey analytics, orchestration and modern architecture to collect data, derive insights, take action and enable quick changes. Combined, these technologies allow brands to manage experiences in an omnichannel environment. Conclusion As omnichannel commerce proliferates, managing holistic customer experience is imperative but extremely difficult. Siloed systems, disjointed data, poor analytics, and lagging consumer expectations create obstacles. However, by adopting unifying structures, technologies, and processes centered around journeys, brands can begin assembling superior omnichannel customer experiences. Though the challenges are immense, the opportunities are greater.

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