Jon Powell

Customer Connection: Does your entire marketing process connect to your customers’ motivations?

July 2nd, 2013

For roughly the last six years, my focus has been customer research – specifically how and why people behave the way they do when they come to a point of decision online.

After directing hundreds of real-time online tests and conducting a number of brand-side marketer interviews, I’ve discovered there’s simple a secret to using the Conversion Heuristic of MarketingSherpa’s sister brand, MarketingExperiments, to unlock some of the double- and triple-digit gains I’ve witnessed first-hand over the years.

I’ll explain with a recent story of my own.


There’s a story behind everything that’s bought

On January 2, my wife went from happily seven months pregnant to becoming a new mom two months early – in less than 48 hours.

She suddenly put her career on hold and committed to meeting the challenges our daughter faced from premature birth. We were in the hospital every day for a month and brought our bundle of joy home a month earlier than expected.

It’s safe to say my wife’s recent journey has been one of rediscovery with little notice. And, with her birthday coming up soon, I wanted to find a way to delight her and confirm her talent as a person. So, I went to build a custom gift presentation focused on one of her most promising and enjoyable hobbies: baking.


A company becomes my cornerstone

The first place I went to buy products for this presentation was one of the e-commerce stores she visits most – King Arthur Flour. Over the last year, she has mentioned things she would love to have from the site, so I decided to fulfill those requests all at once.

The added bonus here is it would excite her to have all of the new tools and special ingredients she wanted and would confirm my belief in her baking talents … one delicious confection after another.

So, from the homepage to checkout, I processed every piece of marketing content in context of what I was trying to do for my wife. If something didn’t fit my vision for this presentation, then it wasn’t for me.


My cornerstone gets cracked

It’s inescapable for anyone in e-commerce – some errors will occur. A potent baking ingredient came apart during shipment and also ruined two other key items for my presentation. Making matters worse … her birthday was in less than two days.

I quickly contacted King Arthur Flour to see if they could help. When I spoke with someone from the team about my situation, they agreed to process an overnight replacement of those items without question.

All seemed to be well again …

Until the package didn’t arrive the following day.

The most effective marketing content and process synchronizes with customer story

I called the support line again and to my surprise, I had little to explain.

The new person already knew my story, saw that the transit company made a mistake, took responsibility for it (didn’t have to) and immediately went into options. When his options were exhausted, he brought a manager in to find more, including a call to the transit company and a search for local competitors that might have similar items in stock.

I received phone updates from different team members, each being in the know and very specific about what was happening and how they could help. Overall, the experience went from near disaster to an awesome birthday surprise.

The final touch – a surprise e-gift certificate for my wife just in case there was something she didn’t tell me about. And yes, she cried.


You have to understand why customers are coming to you

I now understand why Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, formed the methodology in the way he did, with motivation as the most important factor to the probability that a customer will convert.

Understanding the nature of a customer’s purchase can help you optimize a landing page or a sales funnel, but understanding the greater context around the nature of why a customer buys from you can help your team transform the entire customer connection.

Ultimately, every customer’s purchase has a context around why they buy from you, and they will judge you on how you perform in that role. Developing a systematic anticipation of that context and working to serve customers’ needs with that context in mind is what often drives some of the largest gains.


Related Resources:

Value Proposition: Why do customers act?

Website Optimization: 1,915 marketers rank the top optimization goals

Analyzing Customer Motivation to Create Campaign Incentives that Resonate

Email Marketing: Segmenting a database and delivering more targeted content without overwhelming your team – See how King Arthur Flour gradually segmented its database, worked through challenges, and delivered more relevant content to push open and clickthrough rates to nearly 50%

Email Marketing How-to: 5 steps to improve your email newsletter

Email Marketing: Good preference centers can hold onto subscribers even as they change

Jon Powell

About Jon Powell

Jon Powell, Senior Manager of Executive Research and Development, MECLABS Jon mostly works with financial industry Research Partners and is well respected around the lab for his keen test planning and scheduling abilities. Before joining MECLABS in April 2007, Jon managed relationships with advertisers and supporters in publications like Massage magazine and Chiropractic Economics. He holds a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Wichita State University and when not managing research partnerships, Jon spends his free time leading the nonprofit FIBC Traditional Taekwondo school.

Categories: Consumer Marketing Tags: , , , , , , , ,

  1. Kevin O’Leary
    July 2nd, 2013 at 15:03 | #1

    Insightful article. My son was born two months early (5 weeks in NICU) and I’m a big KAF fan, so I was all about this one. Their social media content is pretty stellar so I am not surprised their customer service was so personalized.

  2. July 3rd, 2013 at 10:38 | #2

    A great read, Jon! Customers need us to recognize their needs and then to figure out the best and most creative ways to fulfill them. This extends not just to the initial purchase, but to all subsequent customer service contacts.

  3. July 10th, 2013 at 04:16 | #3

    I’d say you’re right on about matching the marketing content to the customer’s needs. By the time a customer reaches the sales department, 70% of the sales process is completed, so the best way to speed things along is by offering them content that matches their story and needs. Here’s a blog post that talks about matching the right content to the right stage of the customer decision journey:

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