Exclusive. Personalized. Specialized. Comfortable. Enjoyable. These are the hallmarks of luxury products and services. But just as your customers demand the ultimate in luxury products and an array of specialized services to go along with those pricey items, they also demand a seamless, blissful customer experience. While ordinary consumer brands get by with “okay” customer service most of the time, luxury brands have to knock it out of the ballpark — every single time — at all stages of the marketing funnel.
All markets, from luxury watches to personal airplanes to ordinary hand soap, are in tight competition. Any edge you gain for your brand and image via improved customer experience might mean significant improvements in revenue and market shares. What can you, the luxury brand marketer, do to improve the design of the customer experience and solidify your place in your luxury market? Read on for some powerfully helpful tips.
Know Thy Customer
Marketers tend to oversimplify the luxury consumer. In actuality, there are many different buyer personas, largely based on how they ended up as luxury consumers in the first place. There are those who earned their own wealth, those who married into it, those born into it, and even some who happened upon it by complete chance. The tech industry, for instance, is producing millionaires and billionaires in record numbers, much like in the Dot Com era of the late 1990s.
Hence, to provide a stellar user experience for all these individuals, marketers need to engage in detailed customer segmentation, then develop strategies to target and nurture each segment of your customer base. Develop a specialized experience for the foreign businessman who just moved to the U.S. and isn’t so savvy with the language and culture. Develop a unique experience for the wealthy wives who aren’t used to using your high-tech devices. Develop an exclusive experience for the entrepreneur who built her empire from the ground up and isn’t used to depending on anyone for help. Each of their experiences should be targeted and unique to their needs, mindset, experience levels using your products, and their own specific goals.
Luxury buyers are notoriously image-conscious. How is your branding helping to improve their image, both their self-image and the image they project to others?
Employ a Flexible Marketing Campaign Strategy
Marketing campaigns and user experience design is no longer a one-and-done proposition. While marketers of old developed a campaign, designed the “ideal” user experience, and then just put it all into motion, today’s marketers must:
- Begin with a thorough audit of their current customer experience.
- Identify the strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement in your current customer experience.
- Develop strategies to make the customer experience better than it is today.
- Constantly test and monitor their UX to identify areas for improvements.
It’s an ongoing process.
The key is to never fall in love with your content, images, or any element of your marketing plans. Be willing to put the ax to anything that isn’t testing well or performing well in practice. Pay attention to every detail! A slight underperformance by a landing page may be indicative of a message that’s being poorly received by your customer base. A less-positive-than-expected response to changes in the customer call center might be an early warning of significant problems in the overall customer experience. Address even the most minor of snags, with the goal of producing an absolutely seamless, snag-free process at every point of the marketing funnel.
Use the Latest UX Tools & Techniques
Luxury buyers are heavy users of digital, mobile, and social; most own several digital and mobile devices that they switch among during the course of any given day. That means that high-tech marketing techniques are essential. It also means that you need to track your customers via their online profiles, not by their devices.
As savvy tech users, luxury brands can’t afford to use outdated marketing tools and techniques. Provide personalized services like online customer portals, a mobile app, a website that is responsive to accommodate users of all sorts of devices, and a strong social media presence.
Social media for luxury brands is a double-edged sword. There will absolutely be negative comments sometimes, even for brands rocking it out with customer experience. Consider your best means for controlling this negativity, such as moderating comments before allowing posting to your social pages. While that works on your social accounts, it won’t stop hashtags. Stay on top of any negative buzz that starts on any hashtag relative to your company, product lines, brand, or industry. If you respond quickly, positively, and decisively to all social comments — whether positive or negative — your luxury brand can win with social.
For example, marathon running legend Hal Higdon responds to each and every mention of himself on social media within minutes. He encourages new runners, inspires experienced runners, and offers helpful advice and products for every level of marathoner. Similarly, Ruby Tuesday interacts with the public when they mention their brand or products online. They make customers feel special and like the company actually cares about them as individuals. Luxury brands can use these same techniques to engage their customers, improve the customer experience, and win big in social marketing. In fact, luxury customers expect and demand this level of responsiveness.
Obviously, digital, mobile, and social are just a few of the modern tools you’ll need. Luxury brands also must invest in high-end marketing automation tools, email marketing tools, strong online content campaigns, CRM or related software, and other tools that help you deliver a superior customer experience from beginning to end.
Consider Some Non-Traditional Marketing Strategies in the Luxury Brand Realm
Luxury brands can’t lean on some of the marketing staples that regular consumer brands utilize, such as free giveaways, sweepstakes, and coupons. Luxury buyers aren’t looking for a good deal; they’re looking for an outstanding product.
They’re willing to pay what they must for the latest features and functionality, heavenly customer service, and a plethora of services to go along with their products (think roadside service for their vehicles, lifetime maintenance on their watches, and 24-7 live customer support for their television sets). Here are a few of the less commonly used techniques in delivering an excellent user experience within the luxury market that are nonetheless proven to work in this arena.
Influencer marketing — When did we decide to use athletes to promote toothpaste, or singers to promote vehicles, or actors to promote political candidates? Some celebrity endorsements make sense: nobody could evaluate the performance of sneakers better than Michael Jordan, Joe Satriani is highly qualified to put his two-cents in about guitar amps, and supermodels are a natural go-to source for all things beauty related. But luxury buyers are smarter than that. They respond better to influencer marketing than to celebrity endorsements.
Influencer marketing doesn’t involve getting an outsider (like a celebrity) to promote your brand. Instead, it utilizes the knowledge, expertise, and experience of your insiders to establish your brand as the go-to source for industry insight, information, and even opinion.
Who should be your influencers? Your product developers, quality inspectors/testers, executives, and even (in some cases) your rank-and-file production workers. Consider the effectiveness of a low-level employee explaining all of the things they do every day to assure the high quality of your products and spectacular customer experience.
But in most cases, influencer marketing by luxury brands should be done through your most talented and skilled developers or your top-level execs. Have them contribute to your blog, explaining how the product works, what’s on the horizon in the industry, and how to get the most out of your extended warranties. Have them post to social media.
Bill Gates of Microsoft, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Group (Huffington Post), and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn all have strong and active social profiles that help build their brand identities and establish their companies as the authority on their respective industries. Get them published. Produce YouTube videos, SlideShare presentations, and a variety of other content using your experts as influencers. It’s marketing gold, and luxury buyers respond well to this type of marketing.
Live Events — Luxury buyers are the sorts who like to be where the action is. They’re used to invites to all the A-List parties, charity fundraisers, and other grand events. Hosting your own live events isn’t just a great way to nurture your customers and court potential buyers. It’s also an outstanding means for collecting valuable insight about your buyers and potential buyers. They’ll often tell you things over cocktails and a jazz band crooning that you couldn’t glean from that email survey you send out twice a year that nobody opens, reads, or responds to. Host trade shows, member’s only parties and concerts, and other red carpet affairs.
Live events feed perfectly into a digital, mobile, and social marketing campaign, too, because you’ll use these vehicles for promoting the event, generating excitement during the action, and following up with fabulous videos of your keynote speakers and photos of your oh-so-suave customers living it up at your one-of-a-kind event.
Your marketing team can utilize footage from live events for months after the fact, and success breeds success. Release a series of videos on social media showcasing all the fun your customers had at this year’s event, and you’ll have them lining up to get into next year’s affair.
Word to the wise: never host an event unless you’re certain you can provide the same divine customer experience at the event than you do on your website, in your call centers, and on your showroom floors. Go all out or don’t go is the motto for events hosted by any brand courting the luxury consumer market.
Developing and maintaining a strong customer experience for your luxury brand isn’t just icing on the cake. In today’s incredibly competitive marketplace, it is the essential basis of a good marketing strategy. The benefits are a strong brand image, happy loyal customers, and the ability to tap into new revenue streams and leverage open opportunities as they present themselves.
- epicbrandz.com/perspectives/5-luxury-brands-digital-marketing-right/Don’t Miss the Digital Transformation in Luxury Brand Marketing