I originally posted this article on Advantage’s corporate website after attending Inbound 2018…

Times have changed and customers now hold the keys, because they have constant access to a wealth of information at their fingertips. They can easily jump online and find 15 alternatives to your “magic offering” and then find out how their peers have rated them; yup, their journey is no longer linear. This has changed the way we approach pretty much everything—heck, even as I make my way around Inbound 2018, I’ve chosen all of the sessions I’m going to attend well ahead of the conference based on the speakers, reviews, and previous talks. By doing so, the Inbound team has the ability to monitor and collect all of these breadcrumbs that I’ve left (and will continue to leave) behind as I attend sessions and interact with different folks through the conference. From here, they’ll combine my real life activities with my online activities to build out a continuous profile based off all of this intelligence which they’ll be able to use to continue customizing my experiences moving forward.

“Brands have never been more fragile. The reason is simple: consumers are supremely well informed and far more likely to investigate the real value of products than to rely on logos.” – James Surowiecki, Business Journalist for The New Yorker

It’s now interesting to hear Hubspot CEO and founder Brian Halligan talk about how the marketplace is changing during the 2018 Inbound Keynote.

“We’re in a big era shift, similar to the shift I saw when we first started HubSpot,” said Halligan. “The Internet has really shifted under our feet. We’ve moved from an era where the best product always wins, to where the best customer experience usually always wins.”

The Hubspot unveiling of their shift from the marketing funnel to The Flywheel Framework aims to address this push towards focusing on the customer experience by breaking the customer journey into four parts:

• Attract:  Educate visitors with content and eliminate any barriers that may hinder their ability to gather the information they need;

• Engage:  Build relationships by engaging with buyers on their terms;

• Delight:  Shift resources to help tie your business’ success to your customers’ success; and

• Customers:  Placed at the center, businesses will focus on removing friction to help their customers succeed and fuel growth for both themselves and their customers.

“We’re moving from an era where we created a funnel and filled it with friction to an era where — if you want to win and have a delightful customer experience — a flywheel can ease that friction,” said Halligan.

So how do we delight the customer? We have to move beyond the typical surveys and collection of information. Now more than ever, customer intelligence has to be front and center and the process of collecting and interpreting this data will help us find the best ways to delight them. It’s about using this information to drive future development, understand preferences, and create strategies that resonate better with our customers.

Next comes the data which turns into intelligence, and ultimately turn it into actionable insights with meaningful recommendations that help your organization make the right strategic decisions that not only inform you what is happening, though guide and advise your organization’s next steps.

It starts with the data we collect from the multiple interactions we have with our customers everyday to get to the Who, What, When, Where and most importantly – Why. We start by collecting demographic and firmographic data to help provide a baseline and then utilize its context to help give the data meaning. The next step is to use our customer intelligence to analyze the data in real time to produce actionable insights that help us understand why a customer behaves the way they do and build out a strategy to “Delight” them at every step of the process.

Here are some some of the core components we normally consider:

• Analyzing business intelligence, marketing channel effectiveness, customer lifetime value, customer behavior & satisfaction

• Performing comprehensive analysis on competitive offerings, products, and services to better shape customer engagement and retention initiatives

• Putting yourself into the customer shoes, seeking to understand customer profiles and their needs in order to inform engagement and retention strategies

• Developing A/B test scenarios and monitoring the results of customer engagement initiatives and proposing recommendations based on the analysis of those results

• Utilizing our tech stack (and  additional resources) to help let technology work in your favor to collect all of the breadcrumbs the customers are leaving behind and use both BI and AI to help predict their next move

• And of course, working to identify and build out strategies to increase retention of profitable customers (you have limited resources and need to start somewhere!)

Here at Advantage, we’ve partnered with platforms like HubspotIdio and Clearbit to help gain insight on the data we’re collecting and to build out our actionable and measurable customer strategies. We’ve found that as we identify customers, traditional marketing approaches sometimes ignore the nuance that exists at the individual level because no two customers are equal. Instead, when you have a more holistic view of the intelligence on a customer, the decisioning logic may become overwhelmingly complex and we need to utilize tools that personalize all of our efforts to effectively reach get through to them.

Source: Idio

This new age means that we have to work harder and find the right tools to dig into client intelligence. It’s not just “big data” anymore—it’s about personalization and predictive analytics, bits of information that drive at the “who” behind the customer.

“You don’t need to make your product 10x better, you need to make your experience 10x lighter…Also, improving your experience 10x is much easier than improving product 10x.” Dharmesh Shah – Inbound 2018

Intelligence is more than just data—it creates a more complete picture that allows us to better focus on a “Buyer-Centric” methodology. In turn, this results in a personalized approach with fewer touchpoints to be more effective.

Source: Idio

As you transition into a customer-obsessed organization, be unafraid to challenge the status quo with your point of view backed by the data insights you uncover. 

“If B2B wants to get ahead of the game, they are going to have to get rid of all the friction in their business to better attract, engage and delight customers. It used to be what you sold that mattered, but now it’s how you sell. There is a big opportunity for those to take advantage of this. Three tips: become more self-service, become more customer efficient and decrease handoffs.” – Hubspot founder and CEO Brian Halligan

We all want to be of value to our clients and prospects. This year’s Inbound conference helped me understand just how we can do that, one customer at a time.