Customer engagement.

CMOs around the world tell us that this is the pinnacle of marketing success – happy, engaged customers bring “long-tail” returns to the business; and frankly, also a level of gratification to the challenging role of marketing leadership. In fact, research shows that customer engagement is a more treasured CMO goal than any other metric.

In Austin, our new Chapter President, Jennifer Warren, the CMO of At Home, led us in a thought-provoking discussion about companies, individuals and approaches that are on the cutting-edge of innovation in creating winning customer experiences.

Here are a few of the key points shared:

It’s about them, not you. Meeting customer at their point of need is what matters. That means in terms of content, offerings, channels AND in terms of empowering employees to provide customers what is most needed in the moment.

Dropoff is an Austin and Houston based service like Uber. This service delivers almost anything, bonded and insured, to users on request that same day, complete with an ETA to keep customer informed.

Target now has an application called Cartwheel that helps customers while in-store with search capabilities and in-the-moment saving opportunities. This makes the customer experience easier, seamless and more valuable.

Emotional, visual experiences win. Using emotion to connect with customers is not a new concept. The ways to use emotional connection have expanded.

At Home, for example, has customers who love to spend time shopping the vast selection of home good items – an average in-store customer visit is two hours. Creating room vignettes, visuals, and designer tips and advice to customers while in-store help to foster the shopper’s ability to see products enhancing their own home.

Hurray for the underdog. Yeti coolers produce raving, loyal fans. Corey Maynard, CMO of Yeti Coolers, gets the power of the underdog. Chris Jansen, a country western singer, was loved by Yeti when he was an unknown artist. A few years later, Chris’ fame on iTunes exploded and he decided to include Yeti in his country song, “Buy Me a Boat”. Very cool for Yeti coolers!

Immediacy and locale matter. The dimensions of rapid-fire snippets of information that are easily scannable together with geo-local information creates relevance and context. People no longer have the patience for long-form information and are seeking intel that relates to where they are at the moment. (this is part of the Cartwheel apps power as well).

The Applewatch, for example, has brilliantly designed applications that provide Google maps information everywhere – even inside of stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods – to help users easily navigate their immediate surroundings.

Glimpse and TLDR are great Applewatch app examples of clipped information that provides a snapshot in short-form. Glimpse allows users to clip a portion of a website, paste that portion into a screen and watch for updates on the one small website section that matters to them. TLDR means too long, didn’t read. It creates tweet-like summaries of email messages for the user to scan and get the gist quickly.  Bravo Applewatch.