Newsflash: Your customers are tired of the cacophony of noises, ads, and businesses ‘pushing’ their agenda on them. According to a study by Nielsen, “Global Trust in Advertising,” consumers are instead basing their decisions on multiple points of access.
In fact, there is an distict trend towards ‘self-service,’ since consumers will seek out recommendations, branded websites, and consumer opinion.
This means that it’s up to businesses to meet them halfway with intelligent interaction and information ready to go.
A new kind of ‘customer-centric’ strategy is emerging that makes use of this trend. It’s called ‘next-best-action (NBA) marketing,’ and is based on building trust and relationships through engagement.
The Stage is Set for ‘Next-Best-Action’ Marketing
Like it or not, says Gary Vaynerchuk, the poster-child of social media marketing for insane brand growth, every person is a media company.
Why is this so effective? Because, in this day and age, being customer-centric includes distilling your actions and conversations down to the single individual. Every single individual needs to be nurtured to a state of brand loyalty and be engaged, based on their specific level of experience with the brand so far.
Not all audience members are created alike, nor will they respond in the same way. They demand tailored experiences and interaction, far beyond just being segmented in an email campaign.
Influencers, for example, market effectively because they’re a singular brand, interacting and engaging, in real time, with audiences, giving them more of what they want.
Hannah Bronfman regularly uses her platform to feature travel stays and hashtags like #AmexAmbassador for specific branded campaigns.
This is the way the market is moving. Everyone has the chance to build their ‘personal brand,’ which means that every customer expects to be treated as an individual.
NBA Marketing in Action
Enter: ‘next-best-action’ marketing, an effective tool for brands and businesses that want to encourage a more proactive and engaged customer response.
This strategic method relies on broadening the scope of marketing and building a collaboration between marketing and sales. In essence, every marketing ‘action’ and ‘offer’ has sales driven behind it. And selling opportunities don’t always come in the form of a direct push or call-to-action.
The proof is in the pudding: A study by Annalect about Twitter showed that ‘a tweet from a brand increased the purchase intent by 2.7x’.
Clearly, the next-best-action here, based on a targeted customer’s behaviour and interaction, was for the brand to simply tweet. That tweet made it more likely for the customer to feel engaged with and buy. But, if they hadn’t, the ‘next best action’ might have been even more engagement.
In this context, ‘next-best-action’ marketing is about meeting the consumer where they are. It’s all about crafting the best proposition and positioning, language, interaction and engagement. Sending the right message, from the right channel, at the right time.
Says Umporn Tantipech, ‘an organisation can get ten times performance uplift in terms of response rate [out of next-best-action marketing] compared to the traditional standard mass market push approach’.
Determining a “Next-Best-Action” Strategy
If a completely tailored approach is the baseline for engagement, a surefire method to build loyalty and, eventually, convert an individual audience member into a purchaser (perhaps even a returnpurchaser), should consider:
- What’s the best (most relevant, specific and engaging/personalised) piece of content a business has for a specific customer
- How to deliver this content or offer in a proposition that will most benefit and most move a customer to respond and take action (no matter how ‘small’ that action)
- What the series of actions and steps are to continue to move the individual customer forward, as they build trust in the brand or business
Content delivery now relies on next-best-action marketing working behind the scenes. NBA, then, is a framework for marketing as well as decision-making matrix. With the confluence of AI and Big Data into marketing software, this shift comes as no surprise.
Implementing NBA Marketing
Here’s how it works.
Begin by asking three relevant groups of questions:
- What is relevant for my customer at the point they’re at?
- What has been their experience of the brand or business so far?
- What can I predict about this customer, and how can I respond in a way that will capture their brief attention, making an impact?
- Collaboration and communication (i.e. strategic alignment and trust) between marketing and sales departments
- Natural conversations that are based on a give-and-take style of dialogue
- Ready-to-go content, offers and interaction on one channel that will promote the greatest level of relationship-building
- The technology and internal culture required to monitor customer-facing decisions, putting the enterprise/business/brand in a good position to capture these actions and decisions and then refine in an agile manner, the original NBA model
Customers don’t want to be told anymore. They don’t even necessarily want to be shown anymore, either. They want to be met halfway. They want to be asked, ‘How can we serve you?’
Brands and businesses that allow this question to drive their engagement are going to, with the least amount of resistance, make the greatest profit in the most reliable way.