In my last post I outlined a framework to improve cross cultural communication in the digital realm utilizing some of the concepts from the field of cultural anthropology. In this installment, I will focus on the first construct that I discussed in my last post – cultural context. According to Edward Hall, the pioneer of this concept, a high context message indicates a rather implicit meaning, which is ‘either in the physical context or internalized in the person’, and little information is included in the ‘coded, explicit, transmitted part’, and vice versa for a low context message.
Customers want to connect with their favorite brands, and smart brands understand that customer engagement is key to building long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty. Good customer engagement builds an emotional connection between a customer and a brand, leading to increased frequency of purchases, higher average spending, and a much higher propensity to choose that brand in the future.
There are many avenues of customer engagement, but at the heart of it is personalization. Customers want to feel like their voice is being heard, that they’re important and valuable to the company. We see this every day in the social media world, where customers can speak directly to brands on Twitter and Facebook and get personal attention that may be lacking in other channels. But even as fast as social media moves, it’s still a non-real time interaction and doesn’t guarantee a response.
A few decades ago Chevrolet had a much publicized failure rolling out their model the Nova in Mexico. It turned out that “no va” means “doesn’t go” in Spanish. Not really an ideal name for a car. Years later in Italy a campaign for Schweppes tonic water translated the name into Schweppes toilet water. Sales were unimpressive. These two marketing blunders have become somewhat legendary in the annals of cross-cultural marketing and communication.
With globalization becoming a seemingly permanent element of our society, the importance of navigating the complicated maze that is cross-cultural communication is becoming more important than ever. And not just to large global brands and firms, but to smaller organizations who through happenstance or necessity find themselves in the position of trying to sell their products and services to a broader, more international audience. In the past, most firms simply translated their American (or home country) marketing collateral and message to their target countries language and called it a day. This approach rarely yielded the desired results, but most firms lacked the know-how and wherewithal to do better.
It turns out that there were several models available to try and optimize these cross-cultural marketing and communication issues, but they resided in a completely different field and hence were unknown to most marketers. The field of cultural anthropology utilizes multiple models to explain and understand communication among and between different cultures. This field has identified that cultures have unique and different ways of looking at the world, varying attitudes towards accepted behavior, differing ways of expressing personality, and perhaps most important to this audience, different ways of negotiating and communicating. Each of these differences affects the customer experience in unique and interesting ways and needs to be considered when a firm is branching out and attempting to do business with new nations, cultures and regions.
In my last blog post I introduced the concept of the inverted bell curve. The ramifications of the inverted bell curve are many, but primarily focus on how it no longer pays to be “middle of the road.” In addition to cultural affects like the hollowing out of the middle class, the inverted bell curve impacts sales and marketing as well as product development. It is these areas I wish to discuss today.
Marketers and Manufacturers
So what are the ramifications of this significant paradigm shift for marketers and manufacturers? While there are not many, each is extremely significant in its own way. First off, the mythical 80% audience simply no longer exists in most spaces. Between the proliferation of television channels, radio stations, videos games, internet content and time shifting devices like TiVo, there is simply no one place where you can message such a high percentage of your intended target. Which has led to the second ramification – marketers need to create multiple campaigns with multiple touch points in order to reach the same or similar audience. And you can’t just put your television ads on your website. You actually need to create different content with unique messages to reach these more siloed and stratified audiences.
Brands build and nurture their relationships with customers by paying a lot of attention to the customer’s experience across all touchpoints. I was reminded in a recent email, just how important copy and messaging can be in surprising and delighting the customer.
The messaging in a brand’s automated emails can be dry and boring, or it can used to endear you to the brand. A strong brand voice and marketing messaging strategy creates copy that not only informs a customer, but also entertains or amuses them, demonstrating that the brand understands their customers and wants to deepen their connection with them.
I’d heard of the “bell curve” since junior high school. At that time I knew it as a distribution for grades in a school course. The middle of the bell curve ensured that roughly 80% of my classmates received a B or C grade. In the left hand tail of the curve, students received a D or F grade and on the right hand tail an A. Each tail represented about 10% of the class (please refer to Figure 1).
I have a severe case of "App Fatigue." While I enjoy discovering new mobile apps, the new app inevitably joins dozens of others languishing in trailing screens or folders. My seldom-used apps take up space on my phone and keep my wireless company happy by consuming bandwidth quota during countless app upgrades.
Our last post introduced the concept of Search First: optimizing your customer experience by combining search data and UX strategy from the very start of your website design/re-design effort. The feedback was great – and there were a few “I’ve not heard of this before” conversations.
To succeed in digital marketing today, businesses must be highly visible in online search results, including mobile. The ability to rise to the top of the ever-growing pile of information customers sift through on a daily basis has a direct effect on the bottom line. To position themselves optimally, businesses have undertaken SEO strategies and launched PPC campaigns; some have even hired search managers.
This is all good, responsible marketing effort. So what’s the problem?
This straightforward approach may not be taking into account Google’s end game, that’s what.
Simply stated, Google’s algorithms are designed to locate and deliver not just any answer, but the best answer – the most CREDIBLE answer - in response to user search queries.
You understand the importance of telling your company’s story, and you have built your web site with that in mind. However, despite pouring SEO dollars into content optimization efforts, you are still probably missing a considerable slice of your potential customer base.
If your SEO efforts have only focused on delivering content that is search relevant, you may not have considered whether your site itself is built to effectively guide the user to the answer they're looking for. And that is a big miss.
Everyone searches in a way that is unique to them. Search behavior, or behavioral intent, describes how people search for what they need, where they want to go, or what they want to know. Behavioral Intent is not scripted; it is not formulaic. It is a source of unfiltered information about what customers really want.
We are excited to be a part of the 2016 Insight Exchange (Atlanta) program this year, as an add-on event in partnership with AT&T Customer Experience and Storyminers.
Topics: Customer Experience