The three As of CX: How to win the hearts and minds of your customers

With Alcatraz prison and the jaw-dropping Golden Gate Bridge as the backdrop, here’s what Alex Clarke learned from Marketo’s annual Marketing Nation Summit in San Francisco

In April, I had the pleasure of jetting halfway across the world from London to San Francisco for Marketo’s annual Marketing Nation Summit. This year, Marketo was immensely keen to push the concept of the ‘engagement economy’: the idea that behind every purchase order in B2B, there’s a human on the other side, and that to nurture these people, we need to engage them as humans.

Between cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge, listening in awe to celebrity keynotes James Corden and Queen Latifah, and exploring the cellblocks of Alcatraz, here’s what I learned about Marketo’s engagement economy, and more specifically, how to win the hearts and minds of your customers by employing the three As of customer experience.

1. The art of the storytelling

‘Luxury - Performance - Engineering’ – which brand springs to mind? If you instantly thought Tesla, you’ve got something in common with majority of the 6500 conference attendees. If, like me, you thought Aston Martin, then you’re clearly a little too obsessed with James Bond and British car manufacturing.

Let’s try another one. ‘Different - Creative - Beautiful product’. The correct answer (with clearly no room for subjectivity) is, of course, Apple. Tesla and Apple have both achieved stand-out acclaim through the emotional attachment that customers have with their products, and have therefore become synonymous with, let’s face it, some pretty complimentary adjectives.

The customer now dictates how they’re sold to, when they’re sold to, and on what device they’re sold to

More importantly, their success is down to the realisation that creating a true bond with your customer goes beyond data. As Marketo's former CMO Chandar Pattabhiram asserted during day two’s morning keynote, to win the hearts and minds of your customers: “Be interesting, be authentic, and be relevant.”

Tesla and Apple have won this battle because they followed this mantra, and in doing so have become icons for their respective industries.

2. Adaptive engagement

A message Marketo was keen to hammer home throughout the conference was the realisation that marketers no longer ‘run the show’. The customer now dictates how they’re sold to, when they’re sold to, and on what device they’re sold to. And for this reason, marketers need to adapt: they need to listen, learn, and engage at scale.

Chandar raised a pertinent question: “How many of us in our respective marketing teams are spending money on anything outside of acquisition marketing?” In other words, how much emphasis do B2B marketers really place on cross-sell, adoption, retention and customer growth? Research from CMO Club and Deloitte sadly reveals that only 13% of marketers allocate budget to retention strategies, leaving the remaining 87% purely focused on acquisition.

The theory of adaptive engagement is about acting across the entire customer lifecycle, combining the art of marketing with the science of data, and finally, shifting focus away from MQLs like leads and impressions towards engagement metrics that prove marketers are providing lifetime value for their customers, and in doing so creating customers for life.

3. Advocacy

First off, let’s clear up a common misconception: advocacy is not loyalty. As Chandar pointed out, he’s flown with the same airline for the last 15 years, racked up an impressive 400,000 miles, and used it for the majority of his business trips. But does that make him an advocate of this particular airline?

Chandar explained that an advocate is someone who’s so passionate about your brand that they’d be willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their experience with you never changes. And the brand should always adopt the same mentality.

But how do you create the distinction between loyalty and advocacy? The answer, as Chandar revealed, is through your employees. “Your best brand advocates are the folks who sit next to you every day in your office. When you build brand advocacy, you should be doing it from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

“Happy employees make happy customers, and passionate employees make passionate customers. That’s how great brand advocacy is built.”

CXcellence: How to achieve CX success in B2B 

When does customer experience matter most? And what can you do to deliver an exceptional customer experience throughout the customer journey? We asked the people who really count: B2B buyers.

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