February 14, 2017

Marketing Chart: How important customer-first marketing is to consumers


Well, today is Valentine’s Day. Either a marketing creation designed to push product in the doldrums of winter or a special day to celebrate love — depending on how you look at it.

Either way, it turns out, there is a fundamental similarity between love and marketing.

As we learn from the data in today’s chart, relationships thrive when you put the interests of the other party above your own.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

How important is it for you that the marketing of a company that you do business with puts your interests before its own?

To see 27 more charts from the study, download the free report.

Majority of consumers consider customer-first marketing important

As you can see from the data, customer-first marketing is important to a majority of consumers, with 22% considering it very important.

In fact, only 5% of customers consider the practice not important.

This shouldn’t be surprising. In any relationship, whether with a spouse or with a brand, people do not want to be taken advantage of, and they want to feel that the other party prioritizes their needs.

To better understand the voice of the customer on this topic, here are a few direct customer statements from the survey about customer-first marketing.

“First make sure you provide a good service. If your service isn't up to par don't try to compete with premium service with [the] same price. Advertise that you are a good service and be honest about your service that you provide.”

“Put customer first instead of worrying about losing a penny, because they will lose a customer all together.”

“Most companies only care about trying to sell me things I don't want or need.  They don't listen to what I'm telling them, or allow me to customize services for my specific needs. They often have their customer service representatives give out deliberately false information. Despite what their ads say, they in no way put the customer first, because their business model is based on volume and deception, not actually serving the customer.”

Qualitative statements tend towards the extremes (and no one is an extreme moderate), so I don’t want to dishearten you on the state of marketing with these statements alone. Keep in mind that, according to our data, 92% of Americans said at least a few companies they interact with practice customer-first marketing.

That said, let’s not ignore them or sweep them under the rug. What can we learn from these direct customer statements?

How to tailor the right marketing to the right customers

The first quote brings up a central tenant of customer-first marketing — being honest about your product or service in your marketing. As Harrison King McCann’s famous credo says, advertising should be “Truth Well Told.”

This isn’t to suggest that you should run ads saying how horrible your product is. In reality, your product or service is probably the right solution for some people (or it wouldn’t exist), just not the right solution for everyone.

Which addresses the concern in the last quote — finding the groups of people that want or need your product and focusing your marketing efforts on them.

Ah, the joy of being a marketer in 2017. With so much data. And technology.

“Consumers likely feel bombarded with ads across every touchpoint and will ignore or block marketing that is over the top or misses the mark,” Joanna O’Connell, Chief Marketing Officer, MediaMath, told me. “The good news is marketers now have so much technology at their disposal to enable them to deliver good experiences.”

O’Connell provided a few examples to get your creative (well, creative, data-oriented, technology-driven) juices flowing for how you can get marketing messages to customers that will benefit from them and avoid those who won’t:

  • Segment more granularly to get a better understanding of the user’s behavior — did they just buy that pair of jeans you’re about to serve them an ad for? Did they just increase their cart value?
  • Manage channels holistically — including setting the right frequency at which you deliver ads —so you deliver a coordinated conversation to consumers across display, mobile, video and other channels.
  • Gain an understanding of identity across devices so you know with whom you are trying to communicate.
  • Utilize dynamic creative optimization to serve tailored messaging based on specific data points that dictate the best combination of elements in the creative.

“Remember: A user equals a human. Really try to understand what they are looking for and what they want. It’s not enough to not be creepy. The humans you are targeting should like your advertising. That’s how you gain trust, loyalty and, ultimately, business performance,” O’Connell said.

Related resources

Learn a customer-first methodology in the Communicating Value and Web Conversion graduate certificate program from the University of Florida and MECLABS Institute (parent research organization of MarketingSherpa)

Email Segmentation: Finish Line's automation initiative lifts email revenue 50%

Use Dynamic Content and Testing to Optimize Newsletters: 4 Strategies to Create Customer Dialogs

Marketing Chart: Does customer-centric marketing fall short of satisfying the customer?

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