For Marketing Success in 2024, Prioritize Customer Trust

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In today’s marketing landscape, success hinges on prioritizing customer research and cultivating trust through the establishment of customer communities, fostering personalized engagement, deeper insights, and long-term loyalty.

Thriving in the 2024 marketing arena has become reminiscent of a strategic game of survival. Companies today grapple with intense competition and a far more selective customer base, all while navigating unpredictable market conditions.

Not so surprisingly, the key to success in today’s environment relies heavily on our ability to listen to customers. In fact, client-centric companies are 60 percent more profitable than companies that are not focused on the customer, according to research by Deloitte. When marketing teams make a concerted effort to listen to their customers and, more importantly, take action on their feedback, they can better differentiate their brand, uncover trends, and give customers exactly what they are asking for, making the key to marketing effectiveness all about the investment you make in customer research.

While the integration of customer research into your marketing strategy generally seems straightforward, not all research is created equal. Save yourself time, money and resources by avoiding these most common research pitfalls:

Sample Quality

The error I see many marketers make when it comes to research is the quality of their sample. In today’s fast-paced environment, making time for research is understandably not always easy, and turning to third-party samples often seems like the quickest fix. But at what cost? While this approach provides access to customers in your general market, it will not connect you with your specific customers, leaving you with vague and unhelpful results.

Don’t Forget about the Follow-Up

In addition, third-party samples do not allow for participant follow-ups, making it impossible to understand how a customer’s experience has changed once you’ve implemented their feedback. Research is iterative and is only successful when you can actively validate your adjustments directly with your original customer sample over time.

Prioritize Human Connection

Amid the excitement of AI integrations in the past year, many have turned to the adoption of AI to increase efficiency within research, and with very good reason. AI has made our efforts far more streamlined and accessible, giving marketers a new window into understanding customer behaviors, habits, and needs. While the speed and effectiveness of AI are undeniable, it has also led to a reduction in human interaction, leading to growing skepticism and concerns among consumers. Rushing to implement these new technologies can sometimes lead to a lack of consideration for the end experience. If you narrowly focus on AI without taking the need for human connection into account, you risk creating an under-personalized relationship with customers. While AI will remain an important strategic component of your marketing stack, it’s all about leveraging AI strategically to help further strengthen customer connections.

Enter the Customer Community

Today, successful market research prioritizes connecting with the right customers, building relationships, and engaging one-to-one. This means recruiting participants among your most engaged customers and then taking the time to create personalized connections with them to ensure high-quality insights over time. If you want to improve marketing efficiency, see a return on your investment, improve customer loyalty, and de-risk your decision making, there is only one research approach to consider: customer communities.

At its core, a community can be defined as “a group of people sharing a defining story,” and this is no different when it comes to customer communities. It’s all about bringing together verified and engaged customers in one place and building a supportive, open environment for them to share their thoughts. Through this more intimate approach to engagement, brands can cultivate trusting relationships, leading to deeper customer insights and greater loyalty.

The Wendy’s Company built a 10,000-plus customer community to stay on top of trends and create strong relationships with their loyal consumers. This consistent and timely customer feedback helps the Wendy’s marketing team better understand their competitive landscape, refine product positioning, and develop effective marketing campaigns. With the ability to test and validate decisions with customers before campaigns launch, the Wendy’s team is able to significantly speed up decision making, spot trends, and ensure new products will be profitable.

Britain's largest bingo brand, tombola, aimed to enhance player engagement, boost loyalty, and elevate brand awareness. To achieve this, the tombola research team initiated a player community designed to collect valuable feedback on marketing promotions within the industry. The community not only facilitated qualitative analysis but also enabled the team to dig deeper by posing open-ended questions to their players. This strategic approach to gathering and incorporating player feedback resulted in an impressive 7 percent year-over-year growth in new depositing players.

Unlike the expensive third-party research sample, a community allows brands to clearly identify specific pain points, address them promptly, and follow up with customers over time—a winning formula for building trust and long-term loyalty. Once a customer community is established, AI will only help it to further flourish and scale research efforts, ensuring sustained success in the evolving marketing landscape.

Mary Kay Evans is chief marketing officer at Alida. Evans has more than 25 years of experience in transforming the way companies engage with their markets, their clients, and their employees. Evans has served as a leader, consultant, and advisor to many leading technology companies. Prior to Alida, Evans served CMO for Pymetrics and CMO for Verizon Digital Media, and she cofounded Radi8 Creative, an agency offering go-to-market strategy, PR and creative services.

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