Is Great Customer Experience Your Best Form Of Marketing?

Is Great Customer Experience Your Best Form Of Marketing? - Image with "customer journey map" written on it.

The biggest brands in the world know the value of experience. Apple, Starbucks and AirBnB all know the value of the “experience” of using their products. This is distinct from values or price or any other factor. These big brands know that the experience that you offer to customers is the perception that they will have of your brand.

So is customer experience a form of marketing? Are experience agencies actually competing with marketing agencies rather than complimenting them? Or does the experience a brand offers encompass everything? From the marketing through to actually using the product or service?

Let’s take a look at experiences and the role marketing plays.

Image of U.S. dollars to illustrate investment money going into experience and digital transformation.
Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

Follow The Money…

More and more money is going into customer experience management and digital transformation. This has been especially true in APAC due to the disruption of the pandemic

In fact the global customer experience management market will reach a $14.45 billion valuation by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 12%.

Some of the budgets talked about for digital transformation will also be allocated to CX innovation projects.

So investment is being pumped into the experience space. By contrast ad budgets look to be falling as companies embark on cost cutting exercises. Even though this is a mistake, it is a strategy that some companies cannot resist.

But are we looking at marketing versus experience spend in the wrong way? Cutting marketing spend in a recession is a bad idea. However, it may be that we are in a new era with new priorities. 

So are we shifting towards experience and away from marketing?

Image of a person using a POS checkout to illustrate experience journeys.
Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Is Experience Innovation Over Marketing A Thing?

People will point to Tesla as an example of investing in product experience and innovation over marketing. People will also mention Uber in the same breath. As it did not invest much in advertising during the launch phase.

But Tesla is a bad example. While it is true they do not really advertise (have you ever seen a Tesla ad?), their much-maligned CEO bought an entire social network. He has also got into trouble for some of his promotional proclamations. So while Tesla as a company does not indulge in flashy creative ads, they do have a very public figure as their CEO. That appearance on “Big Bang Theory” is also a form of marketing. They even mention “Tesla” in the episode.

Apple, one of the biggest brands around, gets great NPS (Net Promoter Score) numbers. It also spends a lot on marketing. Apple invests huge amounts into search marketing alone. This is before you consider how much those well-made video ads cost.

Even Elon and Uber are moving on this. Elon Musk has stated that Tesla’s anti-ad outlook might have to shift (which could be because of him). Uber is even launching their own ad platform.  

The big players do not seem to be cutting their advertising to focus on experience. What they are doing is prioritizing their marketing efforts. This is different to shifting emphasis towards experience alone. 

So can we make the case that experience spending should be equal to marketing spend? Also, should the two operate hand-in-hand?

Image of a whiteboard with a UX flow
Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

Why Not Both? The Case For Customer-Centricity

The common rule that most people will be aware of is that a B2B company should spend between 2 and 8% of their revenue on marketing. For B2C companies, the figures are between 5 and 10%. 

But what about experience innovation?

We have seen that there is a lot of money going into experience innovation and digital transformation. But, as it is a new area, there are not the same common rules around spending here.

But there is an approach that tackles both. Where you could implement a combined marketing and experience innovation budget.

Spoiler alert, its customer-centricity!

Image of a handshake.
Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Marketing + Experience x Support = Customer-Centricity

A customer-centric model helps boost customer loyalty and brand social capital. This is different from marketing terms like “awareness”. It is more of a measure of how much your customers buy into your brand and what it stands for. Putting the customer first is not some new thing and most retailers would say that is what they do. Though in real terms they often do not. 

To become customer-centric you have to have a deep understanding of your customer segments and their needs. Which is also what you have to do to create an effective marketing strategy. Understanding your users and putting them first is also a core tenet of the customer experience industry.

So the crossover is obvious. Customer-centricity can provide the framework for both effective marketing and experience innovation.

The outstanding example of this approach is Zappos. Zappos has made customer-centricity the bedrock of their business. Delivering WOW through service feeds into the experience that customers have when interacting with the brand.  Zappos uses this in their marketing and in their social media presence. Helping the customer is everything.

Companies like Zappos prove that experience and marketing belong together. But it needs a holistic, strategic approach to combine them. This is also present in Haier’s RenDanHeYi organizational system and its “zero distance” to the customer. The business spots a customer need and that need becomes the focus of a microenterprise.

Making experience the optimal goal for a business can level up that business’s marketing efforts. So marketing and experience are not enemies. They have to collaborate to achieve the end goal; creating happy customers.

Contact us via

Talk to MAQE

Do you need help with experience innovation? Do you want your company to be more customer-centric? Talk to MAQE. We have years of experience in creating experiences! So get in touch via [email protected].