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What’s Your Customer’s Purpose?

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Many organizations spent 2020 scrambling to catch up on decades-old trends, such as working from home, online commerce, and virtual events. What had long been a priority had suddenly become the priority, and too many businesses found themselves unprepared. As things open up in 2021, other pre-pandemic trends are revealing their importance to post-pandemic success, including purpose, customer experience, and their combined role in driving growth.

It now seems every month a company previously known for dispassionate dedication to profit and efficiency launches a new and emotive purpose statement. Though these meticulously crafted declarations are on-trend with stakeholder capitalism, companies that don’t go beyond inspiring oohs and aahs of solidarity among customers, employees, and shareholders may be setting themselves up for a negative backlash — and missing their most significant transformational growth opportunity.

Besides being laudable and increasingly necessary, traditional approaches to profit through purpose — such as Patagonia’s 1% for the planet and Toms Shoes’ buy-a-pair-give-a-pair — have proven to be a good place to start for many. Consider Bank of the West, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas (full disclosure: both Bank of the West and BNP Paribas are Accenture clients). In 2018, the leadership team committed to un-funding industries like fracking, coal, arctic drilling, and tobacco; prioritized funding of renewable energy; and directly connected their financial products to specific causes. In the eight months that followed, according to company CMO Ben Stuart, they saw new customer growth of 37% — the strongest in their history — and sustained growth of 25% or greater.

But to fully harness purpose-fueled growth, it’s important to consider purpose more broadly than adopting social or environmental causes, sustainability practices, or pithy purpose statements. Companies significantly outperform competitors on growth, profitability, differentiation, category leadership, and long-term loyalty of customers and employees by considering three levels of purpose — company, brand, and customer purpose — and then optimizing their products, people, processes, policies, technology, operations, and metrics to deliver experiences aligned with those purposes. Here’s how to start.

Consider Three Levels of Purpose

Big-P Purpose (Company)

Big-P purpose describes the company’s role in the world. Communications giant Verizon’s purpose is, “We create the networks that move the world forward.” (Verizon is also an Accenture client.) These nine words describe not just what Verizon does, but why they do it. Employees can see the higher impact of their work, and customers can see a reason to choose Verizon.

Company purposes best galvanize customers when the stated purpose reflects one the company shares with them, not just what the company does for them. For example, my firm, Accenture’s, purpose is “to deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity.” This describes what our people and clients do together every day. It helps guide the decisions and actions of millions of employees (ours and our clients’) around the globe.

Medium-P Purpose (Brand)

Whereas big-P purpose depicts a company’s role in the world, medium-P purpose depicts its role in the lives of customers. Companies with only one brand may opt for company and brand purpose to be one and the same. Or they may opt to have distinct company and brand purposes, especially if they have multiple divisions serving different customer needs.

For example, Kimberly-Clark (also an Accenture client) has a distinct purpose for Huggies, its baby diaper brand: “Helping to navigate the unknowns of babyhood.” This statement perfectly reflects the unmet, perhaps unarticulated, needs of Huggies’ customers, which go beyond just diapers. And with this statement, first-time parents might feel Huggies understands them, leading to their confidence in — and ultimately choosing — Huggies. But this purpose would not fit Kimberly-Clark’s other brands like Kleenex, Cottonelle, Depends, or Kotex because those brands play a different role in the lives of customers.

Importantly, purpose statements like those above that elevate a company’s motives also elevate customer expectations. Purposes stated are promises made. So if a company doesn’t change how it operates to align with its stated purpose, it leaves itself vulnerable to accusations of virtue-signaling, green-washing, or generally being full of it if their actions don’t live up to their words. And with the velocity and reach of social media, company leaders can find themselves fighting a PR firestorm before they even know what caused it.

Many have learned this the hard way, including airlines, banks, drug companies, retailers, and social media companies themselves. Not only did their share prices and revenue suffer — which could be made up in future quarters — they also lost customer trust, brand equity, credibility, and future revenue potential, which might never be fully regained. Such injuries might have been avoided if those companies better aligned their practices and policies with their purposes and promises.

Small-P Purpose (Customer)

Despite its name, small-p purpose has by far the biggest impact on business performance and market leadership. Customer purposes are all the intents, needs, questions, or desired outcomes that might compel a customer to engage your company. Think anything that starts with something like, “I need…,” “I want…,” “How can I…,” or “Can you…”

These many needs comprise your customer purpose portfolio. It’s more important that teams have a deep understanding of your customer purpose portfolio than they do of your company’s product portfolio. Why? Because every time customers achieve their purpose, they generate value for whichever company enabled them to do so. That value may be in the form of revenue, share of spend, loyalty, advocacy, lifetime value, etc.

Every purpose in your customer purpose portfolio is the endpoint of a modern customer journey. Every purpose is the thing around which an experience is designed. Every purpose reflects an outcome that, every time it’s achieved by a customer, generates value for your business. A growing number of companies measure how well they’re enabling customers to achieve purposes — and increasing performance on business KPIs as a result — using Customer Performance Indicators (CPIs).

Define, Design, and Deliver Purpose-Led Experiences

Like purpose, another poorly defined business trend of rapidly growing importance is customer experience. Ask most leaders to describe what that means, and odds are “look and feel” will be mentioned. But experience isn’t how websites or apps or stores look and feel; experience is how customers react and feel when pursuing a purpose important to them.

If the company has done a good job of understanding a customer purpose and is making it easy for them to achieve it, customers will experience something like excitement, anticipation, joy, confidence, peace of mind, or satisfaction. If the company is not making it easy for customers to achieve their purpose, they’ll experience something like confusion, frustration, exasperation, or anger.

The veneer of pixels applied across digital touchpoints or printed on physical items — no matter how pretty — has little influence on what customers experience. What counts is whether customers can easily achieve their intended purpose.

Because your organization’s growth and success ultimately rely on customers achieving their purposes, start by understanding what matters most to them — in the world, in their lives, and in the specific context of what you provide — using exploratory ethnographic research (individual open-ended discussions, observation sessions, or customer journaling). Insights from that research will inform the creation of your company purpose, brand purpose, customer purpose portfolio, and CPIs, as well as new products and experiences.

Come Up with and Prioritize New Experience Concepts

Use the customer purpose portfolio you identified through research to come up with new experience concepts that enable customers to achieve their priority purposes. Generate as many ideas as possible, deferring judgement until you have at least 20–100 concepts to consider. Evaluate each individually based on potential impact for customers (CPIs) and for your business (KPIs).

Then identify the capabilities or dependencies each concept requires (data, technical, operational, organizational, regulatory, etc.) relative to your company’s current state. Many concepts will rely on the same capabilities or dependencies. So analyze the collective customer/business impact and the cost/complexity of realizing multiple concepts with shared capabilities/dependencies in order to prioritize them. (The most innovative and valuable concepts are often the most difficult or expensive; considering them with others that share the same dependencies helps rationalize the business case for them all.)

This generates several important outputs, including:

  • New customer journeys designed around customer purpose, which are differentiated by the experience concepts they include.
  • A future-state experience blueprint, a master view that synthesizes your new customer journeys, top experience concepts, required capabilities, CPI/KPI impact, and other key attributes all in the context of a future customer lifecycle aligned to customer purpose and business value.
  • A staged investment and realization plan that provides a roadmap of when each concept and capability will be implemented (that balances impact and costs) and optimizes how internal groups across functions will orchestrate work over time to iteratively realize the future state.

These and related artifacts help focus employees and investments on what matters most to customers and the business. They enable initial value to be generated quickly and then successively each quarter as new capabilities and concepts are launched. This continually increases company differentiation and value generation — for customers, shareholders, communities, and any causes with which you’re aligned.

Align Employee Roles and Goals

The job of every team and employee and how their day-to-day work aligns with your stated purposes should be documented, communicated, and reflected in training, ongoing operating practices, and policies. Teams and employees should also be accountable for one or more metrics that reflect how their work has contributed to the realization of those purposes (CPIs can help here).

While employees often bristle at rigidly defined job descriptions or having their performance measured, seeing their work as something more than generating company profits or their own paycheck provides a greater sense of meaning that impacts employee retention and customer perceptions, as well as metrics like satisfaction, loyalty, and lifetime value.

Assemble Teams to Deliver on Customer Purposes

Organizing work by function (marketing, sales, service, etc.) or channels (web, email, search, stores, call centers, etc.) will get in the way of success. Instead, assemble teams around specific customer purposes or expressive customer segments. Have people from product marketing (potentially from multiple products that align to the same customer purpose or segment), sales, and service join experience designers and developers; content architects and authors; experts in digital media, email, and ecommerce; and representatives from other areas like stores or third-party distribution to operate as a single team.

Each cross-functional team owns the outcome represented by the purpose/customer around which they’ve aligned and is accountable for the relevant CPIs and KPIs. They develop a deep expertise in the purpose and customer segment(s) that share it and the similarities and differences among them. Teams define customer journeys that transcend channels and organizational boundaries as needed. They collaborate using agile methods to design, build, operate, and optimize experiences and content to enable as many customers as possible to complete their journeys and achieve their purpose — generating value for the business.

Transform Operations for Delivering New Experiences

Most company operations are optimized for efficiency, which often causes friction with customers or inhibits employees from delivering better experiences — all to the detriment of growth. You’ll need to rewire operating processes and technology platforms to scale your systems’ and employees’ ability to deliver the experiences on your blueprint.

Use data and artificial intelligence to tailor and personalize journeys and experiences to each customer’s preferences at scale. Accelerate progress and reduce cost through “headless” technology architectures and cloud platforms. So rather than being optimized for efficiency at the expense of growth, you’ll be optimized for growth as efficiently as possible.

Growth strategies that are purpose-led, customer-centric, experience-driven, data/AI-enabled, and technology-scaled require new mindsets far more than new toolsets or skillsets. But this transformation — of culture, operations, and outcomes — begins with a broader consideration of purpose. One that focuses not only on why you do business, but how. When you do that, customers will be happy to be your growth engine.

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The Benefits of LinkedIn Ads

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LinkedIn wouldn’t necessarily be the first platform that comes to mind when considering social media advertising. However, if you are a B2B organisation, the platform can allow you to reach professionals across the globe. LinkedIn allows you to generate brand awareness across targeted professional sectors and reach out to decision makers directly.

Advertising is all about targeting the right people. Users of LinkedIn tend to be older, professional and have a higher income than the average user of other social media platforms. So if that is your target market, LinkedIn offers a great opportunity to reach them. Professionals use LinkedIn for business networking purposes so users are generally in work mode so engaging with them should be easier than on other platforms.

Here we outline the six main advantages that LinkedIn Ads have over other social media platforms.

1. Variety of ad formats

LinkedIn offers a number of options for advertising:

  • Sponsored content – this type of ad appears in people’s feeds, it is the least personal form but good for promoting content from your business page and encouraging people onto it.
  • Text ads – these are only viewable by people using a desktop. With these you can choose the audience you want to target and you only pay per click.
  • Message ads – these appear in users’ inboxes and are proven to be good for conversion.
  • Video ads – great for storytelling, you can also retarget users who have watched the video, aiding conversion rates.
  • Dynamic ads – these allow you to fully personalise your ad by showing user’s photo, name and title within the advert.

2. Generate high quality leads

The ability to target professionals and gain good quality leads is the primary benefit of LinkedIn ads. Users are looking at work-related content so will be more open to solutions for their business needs.

With more than 800 million users in over 220 countries and territories, LinkedIn is the biggest social network for professionals and businesses alike. 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions and the platform has been rated the best for lead generation by marketers.

By using LinkedIn advertising, you can access their Lead Accelerator feature. This feature allows businesses to follow their best prospects and offer more targeted ads directly to them. This includes remarketing to website visitors, which helps nurture leads, making them more likely to become customers.

3. Targeting

LinkedIn allows you to target specific demographics, enabling you to create much more personal advertising campaigns. Facebook lets you target interest and behaviour based factors however LinkedIn is the right medium to use if you want to target individuals based on their industry and job. You can filter your audience by:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Company name
  • Company size
  • Degree subject
  • Job title
  • Seniority
  • Industry
  • Member skills

These variables make the platform the ideal choice for B2B organisations wanting to target decision-makers.

Entrepreneurs executing on a business idea
photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator / Unsplash

4. Remarketing

LinkedIn allows you to specifically target people who have shown an interest in your products. Matched audiences show you which users have visited your website and the pages that they went on. This allows you to target them with specific ads in the hope that they will return to your website and convert to a customer.

Matched audiences can be created with:

  • Account Targeting – Uploading a CSV of company names to LinkedIn allows you to target decision-makers.
  • Website Retargeting – Target the users who have visited your website and re-engage them to aid conversions.
  • Contact Targeting – Uploading a CSV of email addresses of your contacts to LinkedIn enables you to nurture your leads and prospects even further.

5. Increased conversion rates

The ability to target specific groups, nurture them and remarket to them will increase your conversion rates.

A year-long study by HubSpot found that on average, LinkedIn ads convert users to leads at a 6.1 per cent conversion rate. This compares to 2.58 per cent for Google search ads.

MD of exhibition stand contractor Black Robin Exhibits, Alan Jenkins, managed to achieve a conversion rate of 8.2% with a LinkedIn campaign earlier this year, he said “We were delighted with the results, it wasn’t a huge investment, we could set the budget and the conversion rate was fantastic”.

6. High control

A big benefit of LinkedIn advertising is the high degree of control that you can have. You can set a specific start time for your advert and specify when it will end. As well as this, you can set daily budgets to ensure your advertising costs are kept at the right level for your business.

Businessman using LinkedIn app

Conclusion

Setting up a LinkedIn campaign is not straight-forward due to the variety of advert types and different ways of targeting. But the platform has a number of advantages over other social media sites if your target market is professional businesspeople.

B2B organisations will be able to target specific demographics with personal ads, nurture and remarket to them. All this will increase conversion rates, making LinkedIn a valuable marketing tool.

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Beginners’ guide to Instagram Reels

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Get ‘Reel’ results

If you haven’t already heard the news, according to Instagram, they’re no longer a photo-sharing app. Shocking, right? The company announced they want to start focusing more on video content, like that offered through Instagram Reels, as opposed to being the original square photo-sharing app they’re known for being.

“At Instagram, we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging.” — Adam Mosseri, Instagram CEO

This makes total sense because short, engaging videos (shown to us by hyper-accurate algorithms) have proven to keep our attention more effectively than ever before. So effectively that 93% of marketers who use video say it’s an important part of their marketing strategy. Additionally, users are twice as likely to share video content with their friends and family than any other type of content, including social media posts, blog posts/articles and product pages.

So if you’ve been hesitant to start making Instagram Reels or just needed a little encouragement, we’ll cover the basics, give you some ideas on what content to create for your business or brand, and help you understand the data behind it all.

But, before we do, let’s talk about why Instagram Reels needs to be included in your marketing strategy.
What are Reels and why should you start using them?

Person recording elephants on smartphone

Instagram Reels rolled out in late 2020 and the feature has continued to increase in popularity. Reels provide creators with a way to produce and share short, engaging videos using a collection of mainstream music and user-generated audio.

With more advanced editing tools, such as speed controls, filters and transitions, you can effortlessly edit multi-clip Reels up to 30 seconds long, entirely within the Instagram app, which is amazing if you don’t want to use multiple apps and extra equipment to film, edit and post to social media.

Reels are definitely a useful feature of the platform as a whole that is worth exploring. When it comes to metrics, Reels receive 22% more engagement than videos posted directly to a feed. In addition to IGTV, Live and Stories, Instagram Reels are another great tool for you to use to get noticed on the platform and reach potential customers.

Nearly two-thirds of Instagram users are between 18 and 29, with 18- to 34-year-olds the most active age group. That means there’s a ton of opportunity for businesses to be discovered by your target audience on this platform. So, if your Instagram strategy needs a boost to stay top-of-mind and ahead of the competition, Reels could be your solution.

Related: How to plan an Instagram marketing strategy to attract business

Instagram Reels small business content ideas

If your business is active on Instagram but hasn’t posted a Reel just yet, don’t worry, it’s not too late to start. Accounts that don’t follow you can find your content while scrolling on the Explore page, which is why it’s so important for brands to be active where their target audience is.

Don’t let lack of inspiration hold you back, here are some simple and effective video ideas:

Educational content‍

The best way to increase your reach and engagement is to give your viewers value. If you can create something that is helpful, users are more likely to like it, share it with their friends and follow you for more. That ultimately, tells the algorithm your content is worth being promoted to others on the app.

For example, you can create shareable workout, cooking or crafting videos just by showing your step-by-step process.

Showcase your products‍ or services

Highlight what makes your business unique with Reels dedicated to each product or service you offer. This could be a tutorial on how to best use your products or a way to update customers on new offerings.

Create original content‍

Easier said than done, but I know that behind-the-scenes content, user-generated content and FAQs are always a big hit with loyal audiences.

You also have a few different ways to get trending and possibly even viral. You can use trending hashtags, popular audio clips or filters and get discovered among other videos with those elements.

Re-creating a popular trend while highlighting your brand is one of the quickest (but not the easiest) ways for business growth with Instagram Reels.

How to optimize your Instagram Reels

Improvised video recording setup

Improvised video recording setup

Like with any social media platform, there are always hidden steps you can take to increase the likelihood your content gets seen and please the almighty algorithm.

For example, many users who create content for TikTok have started uploading those same videos as Reels. Seems like a logical time saver, right? Well, Instagram has not only clearly advised against re-posting content that’s “visibly recycled from other apps,” it has also updated its algorithm to recognize and prevent it from performing well on their platform.

That being said, here are some tips on how to optimize your Reels for the best results:

  1. Try to record (vertically), edit and add effects to your reels from within the app, rather than uploading a video you’ve created elsewhere.
  2. It’s also important to use text overlays, hashtags, audio, and descriptive captions to let Instagram add you to an algorithm relevant to the content.
  3. @ other accounts, when appropriate. Just like hashtags, you’ll get more reach by including their name in your content.
  4. Use custom thumbnails. Doing so will make it easier for users to find videos they want to watch when scrolling on your account. It’s also a great way to incorporate your branding and help your feed look cohesive.
  5. Sharing your Reels to your Stories and even on your feed will get more people to see it. You can share it when you post it or, if you have posted enough that day, share on a day when you don’t have anything else to post.

Algorithms are constantly changing, and not always for the better. Doing just a little bit of research to stay on top of current trends and best practices will pay off in the long run.

Related: 3 ways to use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling

Understanding Instagram Reels Insights

Bodybuilder recording workout

Bodybuilder recording workout

Finally, you’ll need a way of knowing if your hard work is paying off.

Instagram has included a dedicated tab, which is similar to the Insights tab on your static posts and videos, that details the metrics relating to your Reels. With the Instagram Reels Insights, business owners can see important metrics like accounts reached, plays, likes, comments, saves and shares.

By knowing what type of accounts you’re reaching with your Reels and which content formats are most engaging with your audience, you’ll be able to adjust your content to better serve your target audience and grow your account.

Measuring these stats is the best way to make sure all the efforts you’re putting in to engage your fans is actually working.

Once you have a good idea of where your metrics are on average, try experimenting with the time of day, type of content and hashtags you use when posting your Reels. Start thinking of ways to get in front of new users with videos like tutorials, bloopers or more user-generated content. You could even share customer testimonials or success stories for added social proof.

Final thoughts on Instagram Reels

I know I personally struggled with the idea of including yet another item on my content creation checklist, but I’ve found that even just repurposing a few old clips from videos on my YouTube channel into Reels has proved effective in increasing my engagement and reach on Instagram.

Exploring a new feature of social media can be intimidating and overwhelming at times, but Reels seems to be a fun new way to expand your social media presence through the use of short videos. I recommend testing it out and seeing how well it works for you and your audience. You might find it to be your new favorite tool in your social media strategy.



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5 Strategies to Drive Customer Engagement

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Engaging with your customers is the key to driving sales and growing your company. However, some businesses are not sure how to do this effectively. It means that when they finally manage to engage with their customers, they are not entirely sure what worked. Knowing how to drive customer engagement is all about knowing your customers.

Here are 5 strategies that you can use to drive customer engagement.

Customer engagement
photo credit: Edmond Dantès / Pexels

Communication is the Key

Communication between your company and your customers is fundamental to engagement. If your customers are trying to talk to you about your products or services, then you should listen to them. Avoiding contact will simply drive them to another company.

Here are some tips you should follow.

1. Listen to Your Customers and Never Assume

If you have a customer that approaches you on social media or any other channel, it is vital that you engage them in a conversation. Their initial message might not be the complete story, so you need to work with them to find the right answer.

Once you have found out what the customer wants, go through your products with them and pinpoint what works for them. Your sales team must never assume that they know what their customers want, or they might find the customer goes elsewhere.

2. Seek Help with Engagement

Sometimes no matter what you try, you are unable to engage with your customers or retain them. It may be that there are strategies that you haven’t considered or lack the knowledge to implement.

This is where companies such as TCC Global can help. By helping you and your marketing team to engage with your customers and create brand loyalty, you can start to grow your business.

3. Respond Quickly to Questions

There is nothing more frustrating for customers than asking a question on social media and not getting a reply. Even a delay of a few hours can be enough to cause someone to look elsewhere.

If your business has a presence on social media, then it is vital that it is monitored at least during business hours.

Selling to existing customers

4. Chat to Your Customers

There is a temptation to use your means of communication to just sell products. While this is an important part, there should also be more customer engagement through conversation.

If you find something interesting, tell your customers on social media. Reply to them if they answer you and keep the conversation going.

5. Blog About the Popular Questions

If you are seeing a trend in questions your customers are asking, then it may be a good idea to write a blog post about it.

Blog posts will drive visitors and potential customers to your website and from there they may go to your products. Answering these popular questions will also save time for your customers and build loyalty.

Conclusion

So, there you have it – 5 strategies to drive customer engagement. These are just a few of the ways your company can build a relationship with its customers and build a loyal following.

It is important to remember to stay engaged with your customers even after they make a purchase.

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