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Customer Onboarding: It’s all about first impressions

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 09 Nov, 2015
Essential Essential topic

Get the basics of your onboarding strategy right

In my experience as a marketing professional, potential customers almost never just decide to walk away from a purchase - unless given sufficient reason to do so. And, if you’re wondering how a promising list of leads managed to slip through your fingers, it might be time to refocus on the basics of your onboarding strategy.

While there isn’t a definite methodology for conducting 100% watertight onboarding strategies, certain fundamentals exist that should remain top of mind during this seminal stage of your hopefully long and prosperous relationship with your customer. So, here are a few back-to-basics considerations if your leads and sales funnels are dwindling.

Is my offering correctly aligned to my market?

If your sales, marketing and product teams look to each other for the answer to this question, there’s a problem. Product alignment is the first – if not most crucial - step to a successful onboarding game plan. You see, regardless of the marketing spend behind a great product, conversions will be slim-to-none if a product doesn’t speak to the persona’s pain-points. As Peter Drucker famously asserted, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Well, yes, but as marketers we all know that no product really sells itself. Instead, it’s when a company really believes in what it has to offer, and takes the necessary time and effort to know its market, that great things happen. For me, Uber is a perfect example of a company that was acutely aware of the crowded market space it was entering, but understood the pain-points so well that their execution and delivery resulted in a disruptive business model that will have its ripples felt far and wide – and for some time to come. Here’s an insightful case study  on how the company turned the transportation industry on its head.Onboarding

Are my customer metrics doing my onboarding strategy justice?

Once product alignment is achieved, it’s time to collect as much information about your leads as possible. Why? Because companies who “know and understand the customer” are perfectly positioned to pre-empt any “push-back” on committing to the purchase. And, if your acquisition strategy has made enough of an impression on your leads for them to engage with your brand, be sure that they expect the same level of interaction throughout the on-boarding stage. Industry analysts Forrester Research put it into context quite succinctly: “It’s not enough to have a world-class digital capability for acquiring new customers. Empowered customers expect the same type of seamless experience, improved efficiency, and heightened responsiveness in all subsequent interactions with your brand.” But to be efficient and responsive, you need the right customer insights – and the tools to share them with relevant departments – to build an on-boarding strategy that can speak to the unique and varied customer concerns that exist within their respective segments.

Is your onboarding strategy adapting to changing times?

It’s no secret that market spaces are becoming increasingly competitive and that consumers are enjoying a power-shift that is steadily tilting in their favour. These developments bring with them both challenges and opportunities to differentiate oneself amongst competition who are equally eager to do the same. This makes the acquisition and onboarding stages so central to building a customer base that remains loyal in times when loyalty can at best be described as fleeting. As we strive to know more about our customers, we’ll increasingly look to our data to bridge the divide and make those all-important first impressions that can so easily make or break our relationships with our customers.

New customers, like seedlings, require nurturing

According to MarketingLand,

"The true standard for hyper-personalization is interacting one-to-one with individuals, not segments. To anticipate an individual’s desires at any point in time, however, requires having deep customer insight, which comes from analyzing granular data.”

Given the access to customer data marketers enjoy today, moving beyond generic market segmentation tactics means we’re able to start building relationships with our customers from the get-go. Nurturing newly on-boarded customers with messaging based on insights gleaned from multiple touch points will quickly shift the relationship from that initial stage of awkward silences to a more personal and lasting relationship.

Retention strategies should speak to the changes in the lives of customers

You don’t want your customers to think of your brand as that friend who only picks up the phone to call you when he needs a favour. Data analytics reveal much about who our customers are and offer insights into the lifecycle stages they’re experiencing. This presents us with opportunities to “share” in their life events and personalise their experiences with our brands. In the midst of all the marketing noise coming at us, personalisation is central to making your brand message resonate in the mind of the consumer.

And the opportunities to do so are plentiful. Gartner states that,

By 2017, mobile apps will be downloaded more than 268 billion times, generating revenue of more than $77 billion and making apps one of the most popular computing tools for users across the globe…As a result, Gartner predicts that mobile users will provide personalized data streams to more than 100 apps and services every day.”

Considering that the app world is only one of many channels companies can leverage to “get to know” their customers, the opportunities to build personalised retention strategies are in abundant supply.

Data holds the key to more personalised customer engagement

As consumers expect more relevant marketing and are increasingly filtering out what they perceive to be intrusive, marketers are also realising the key role data plays in delivering messaging that resonates. The only logical way to do this, it seems, is to take the time to listen to what our data is telling us about our customers and apply those insights to our customer retention and acquisition strategies. With the information overload showing no signs of abating, the challenge will be how to reach out and touch someone across the great digital divide.

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By Expert commentator

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