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THE EXPERIENCE GAP: HOW TO COMPETE IN THE DIRECT BUSINESS WORLD

By Justin Thomas-Copeland, President, RAPP New York

Good customer experience and engagement makes for good business — not the most profound statement, I know. If you build strong relationships with your customers, it only makes sense that the likelihood of a competitor poaching them will decrease exponentially. They’re simply more attached to your brand and, dare we say it, more loyal.

But there appears to be quite a disconnect in what it takes to build this relationship. While 80% of CEOs feel their companies deliver great experiences, only 8% of customers tend to agree. If you want to engage that all-important target audience, you have to offer relevance, and this calls for a strategy of connected experiences, tailor-made for the individual.

The reason: Consumers now want to live your brand, not just “hear” about it. At every touchpoint along the path to purchase, you should be offering real value at the exact moment a potential customer needs it most — or, in other words, more than your standard email blast. Each interaction should somehow tie back to the previous one, driving engagement and making for a near-seamless journey.

As such, the C-suite is having to forget decades of marketing strategy in order to learn the approaches it takes today to build winning brands and a winning business. 

The Experience Bridge

How you go about providing a connected experience can take many forms, but it almost always starts by figuring out what exactly your customers need from you. Technology is an essential component to this. It allows you to understand the whole customer. You can track behavior or infer behavior through advanced artificial-intelligence engines.

If you then want to activate this knowledge — and allow your brand to show up with maximum relevance — technology, again, is the avenue. You can piece together behaviors through advances in identity management within customer relationship management suites. And by leveraging demand-side platforms, CRM helps businesses better manage data and use analytics to gather insights on marketing in regard to media. Few questions remain on the preferred channels of a customer base, allowing for more relevant messaging when and where it matters most.

But creating connected experiences is sometimes easier said than done. In our experience at RAPP, one of the biggest challenges can be talent, largely because customer engagement is more than just software. It’s strategy. And with the rate of change facing business these days, it’s no longer enough to train talent. You have to create an environment for people to stay engaged. Otherwise, you’ll never get the best out of them or see your strategy through.

Our company has faced the same problem, and our solution was to switch things up. We brought in new perspectives to the business problems we were trying to solve for our clients, hiring talent without the “typical” agency experience. Small business owners make great strategists, while artists excel as copywriters.

Besides talent, technology itself can be a problem for brands. It’s changing so fast that you can’t just buy for the office. Even if it is the global flagship office, chances are it’ll be outdated by next year. Instead, a better option is to leverage the broader RAPP Network and Omnicom. Also, consider using a third party to handle technology relationships. That way, you’re always up on the latest developments.

The Benefits of CRM Technology

At RAPP, data-powered technology is the enabler of our solutions. We help companies connect each customer interaction, creating a consistent brand experience for a target audience. It’s all about future-proofing our clients through consumer centric transformation and redefining the use of digital platforms, services, and channels.

For some brands, this might mean implementing data-driven strategies to better source new, more addressable audiences. Others need help reimagining their products and services based on customer needs and potential revenue streams, and a few even need help changing the way they think about customers. But one thing is a constant: creativity, an often-forgotten piece in the world of direct, individualized engagement.

We add to technology with creativity. Our team understands the way to emotionally engage a target audience. It’s in our DNA, in fact. And we apply our DNA to data and analytics, which provides insights and engagement strategies that have solved some of the biggest business problems facing brands. This is a critical part of our unique value — that, and our almost innate ability to balance precision and emotional empathy.

Here is our new reality: Business is moving much faster. Disruption is the new normal, and consumers have even less time to give second chances to brands who get it wrong. As such, you need a whole new speed to keep up and a whole new level of accuracy to drive relevance.

Additionally, our senior clients have less time to prove their worth to the business, all while the business expects bigger, quicker results. It’s why at RAPP we believe that the business world is a direct CRM world, requiring us to drive connected experiences and engagement at an individual level. For that, RAPP can help brands like nobody else.