Updated: Feb 2, 2021
Part I of the miniseries on Scaling Intimacy
Scaling intimacy allows brands to be a presence in someone's life.
Within a decade, Domino's pizza chain has transformed from a struggling brand valued at all-time low stock prices into a thriving business. All of this because they understood the power of listening and through it, creating customer intimacy.
By analyzing customers' comments online and conducting focus groups, Domino's realized it had to completely change its recipes if they were to survive. Through taking into account specific feedback (e.g. 'The crust tastes like cardboard') and understanding customers’ pain points, Domino's reinvented themselves. This resulted in a massive turnaround for its success and a steep increase in stock prices (see below). Even through the pandemic, they managed to thrive while other food companies crumbled. Their historic success is attributed to closely monitoring, responding, and quickly adapting to customer feedback. Agility was of the essence.
Domino's Pizza, Inc. stock price between 2004 and 2020
Businesses nowadays have to go beyond conventional tactics, like branding or social media marketing, to remain relevant. According to Hubspot, it costs $90 on average to convert a single lead on LinkedIn. High costs make it hard for any company to have a thriving social media presence. Moreover, brands are rapidly losing consumer trust. According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer Report, only 34% of people trust the brands they buy from. That's rather low!
Yet there is another way to maintain valuable relationships with stakeholders: through online communities. People who share values and belong to the same community tend to trust each other more. In this context, personal approach and authenticity play a vital role.
Leveraging data to understand your customer
How do you engage an online community? The secret lies in understanding people first. Online behavior analytics can help you learn which content resonates with your community and how to adapt and improve your strategy. You can answer questions such as: Which platforms do your customers prefer? What do they talk about or like? How do they want to be approached? Etc. The better you understand the people you want to reach, the easier it will be to create content that resonates with them.
Data can be leveraged to test your assumptions and to discover new ones. Do you know how your competitors are talking to their customers? What is their social media engagement? Looking at the direct evidence of what your audience enjoys is crucial for building intimate relationships.
Many variables can influence content engagement in online communication and differentiate between gaining or losing customers. You need to know what they care about, what content topics speak to them, what tone of voice resonates, post formats, or languages your customers prefer to consume content in. It wouldn't make sense to use formal language when reaching out to Gen Z. This might be a crude example, but it illustrates the decisions you have to take when determining your approach.
Creating customer intimacy through ultimate personalization
Data can help you come closer to your customers than ever before and offer personalized content and products. Take Very, the British clothing store. Their website uses customer account details and local weather data to suggest clothing options suited for specific weather. Combined with using a first-name basis, this adds another layer to customer and brand relationships.
It's important to understand that you can't scale Intimacy with a data-driven approach with the snap of a finger. Every 6 seconds, a new website launches; there is more content online than anyone could consume in a lifetime. How do you keep yourself visible amongst the clutter? How do you keep people interested in what you have to say or offer? It's a matter of prioritizing and finding valuable people and communities with which to interact.
Much of this comes down to Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Characteristic of the idea of 'less is more,' this approach enables you to direct your sales and marketing efforts to the most precious and highly promising leads. Through personalized content, campaigns, and tailored experiences, it is easier to connect with particular segments while ensuring you spend less - or nothing - on lesser essential leads. This approach logically results in a higher ROI. According to recent research published by Digital Online Brand, 46% of the B2B marketing professionals believed that ABM would be an important strategy in 2021, more than video marketing (41%) or influencer-marketing (38%).
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