When Marketing Plans and Customer Experience Collide

PHOTO: Valmedia

Last month, I was on the phone with a customer to discuss a new feature we’re developing. During our conversation, he suggested I look at a vendor he thought would be great for us to integrate with. I had never heard of the company, so I set out to learn what I could about what they did and how, and that’s when I fell down the rabbit hole.

Their website is beautiful – great design and excellent navigation. The text about their products and applications is well written but short and succinct. Dipping into the details involves clicking links, buttons, and videos, and that’s where I ran into trouble.

Their site has clearly been optimized to collect email addresses, so virtually anything of educational value is blocked. I wanted to know more about their product, so I gladly provided my email address – again and again and again. It was so over the top that it disrupted my efforts to learn more about the product and its application.

Gluttonous for punishment, I decided to start fresh the next day and returned to the site. This time I paid attention to the chatbot when it asked me what brought me to the site and although I replied “I’m just browsing” and they clearly knew who I was was since they called me “welcome Anita”, I still got a prompt to enter an email address.

welcome back anita

I know there’s a marketer working hard to fill the top of the funnel with email addresses, and I applaud that effort. That said, it’s clear that these efforts haven’t taken customer experience into account. I don’t mind providing my email address once. It was the multiple times that made the experience miserable. If you have recovered my email address, please just open the doors. You don’t need my email address 10 times. One and done would have completely changed my experience.

Related article: Beware of Customer Experience Metrics Manipulators

Marked by bad customer experiences

Because of this experience, I find myself hypersensitive to bad customer experiences (I was branded). Another day I was on the site of a seller whose product I use and really like.

I had a problem with my connection and needed help, so I engaged with the chatbot. Everything was going well until I got to the “Hang on, let me connect you to a team member” message. Ten minutes later, I was still “catchy”. If your staff is limited and you cannot guarantee a reasonable response time, i.e. 1-2 minutes, move the conversation to email. I would much rather have the chatbot respond saying my issue has been submitted and someone will email me within two hours than sit around hoping that holding on will eventually pay off.


Marketing and Customer Experience Webinar

Webinars are another area where marketing and customer experience collide. According to Outgrow, the average webinar receives 260 registrations and 40-50% of registrants actually attend. These registrants are high-value targets who have demonstrated an interest in your topic by registering for your event. It makes sense to record your webinar and then send a link to the recording to those who registered and didn’t attend the event.

What doesn’t make sense is to post the entire webinar recording as content that you hope someone will interact with on your site. The problem is that no one wants to consume this content in its original form. Of course there are exceptions, if you’re covering a really hot topic or have a high profile speaker you might find you get good engagement but for the average business oriented spiel nobody does want to watch a 45-minute video as they browse your site trying to figure out what you are doing.

Why does this happen? This happens because marketing invests time and money into producing a 45-60 minute webinar. They don’t meet their signup or traffic goals, but still position it as a good investment because “it will be good content for the site” and then clutter their site with content that no one engages with.

In fact, I recently clicked on one of these videos and watched the full 45 minutes of the webinar. It was a frustrating experience. There was some great content in the video, but it was buried by the time spent on webinar logistics, speaker introductions, and general staging. The correct approach would have been to extract the quality information from the recording and use it to create one or more videos each up to three minutes long, which would have been a much better customer experience.

Related article: How mature is your content organization?

Don’t let customer experience become an afterthought

There’s so much pressure on marketing teams to deliver metrics related to lead acquisition and program ROI that customer experience becomes an afterthought. I suggest including customer experience goals as part of any new program plan, then reviewing how well they were met, along with the number of leads generated and return on investment. If we don’t keep the customer experience front and center, the problem will get worse as teams come under more pressure and new technologies make it easier to create experience barriers.

You’ll notice that I didn’t call any brand by name and that was deliberate; they are all companies with great products. As marketers, we always try to balance competing demands and deliver the metrics we are measured for. Sometimes things don’t work the way they should; and that’s true for all of us. It has been good to experience and reflect on these challenges and internalize the lessons they have taught:

  • Portal the content, but once you’ve collected the contact details, delete the portals – once you know me, your analytics programs should be able to tell you what I’m doing with your content.
  • Introduce bot-driven customer support, but if you can’t provide human interaction in a timely manner, redirect to email.
  • Offer engaging webinars and send recordings to all registrants, but don’t clutter your site with an unedited version of your recording. Take the time to edit and create small snippets of content that are more likely to be consumed by a visitor.
  • Include customer experience goals and/or impact in every program plan, then measure success against those goals. You don’t want to be so zealous about generating leads that you create a totally miserable customer experience.

Anita Brearton is Founder/CEO and Co-CMO of CabinetM, a marketing technology discovery and management platform that helps marketing teams manage the technology they have and find the technology they need. Anita is a long-time marketing startup and has had the great fortune of leading marketing programs through the early stages of a startup through IPO and acquisition.