man jumping up and clicking his heels in middle of street
PHOTO: Andre Hunter

Trust and validation are hard-won by marketers. In the past, it might have been easy for business leaders to question marketing’s effectiveness. A 2012 study found a solid 80% of CEOs did not trust marketers, whereas 90% of them did trust and value their CFOs and CIOs. 

That’s not a good position for any marketing leader to be in.

A lot has changed in the last few years. We have more ways to demonstrate our value and return on investment (ROI) than before. This ability to deliver tangible performance results has significantly elevated the role of the marketing department within the business hierarchy. But marketers must ask themselves if the ways they have been evaluating success — once deemed tried and true — are still salient today.

The marketing landscape has evolved dramatically, shifting from simply pushing content toward the general consumer to a focus on the customer experience (CX) and nurturing long-term relationships with consumers that evolve with their needs.

This isn’t to say that link clicks and Twitter likes don’t add value, but measurement must keep pace with the times. It’s critical that marketing metrics demonstrate more than a series of one-time touchpoints: They must show continued commitment and brand loyalty — or bring to light the lack thereof so changes can be made.

Rethink how you measure success by considering the following five key CX metrics.

Related Article: The 4 Factors Defining Marketing's Future

1. Visitor Intent

Understanding the why behind a customer’s decision is critical to understanding them and, thus, the role your brand can play in their life. This is where visitor intent data comes in. This information allows you to capture the reasoning and motivations behind a customer’s actions, such as the impetus behind their visit to your website. Without this level of insight, approaching them with compelling and personalized content becomes next to impossible.

Prioritizing this as a key metric may seem counterintuitive, as it is often subjective and nuanced. Although visitor intent can be difficult to nail down, doing so can immensely improve your ability to comprehend a customer’s journey and better meet their needs — ultimately allowing you to deliver on your marketing objectives.

My employer Acquia recently conducted a global CX research survey of 5,000 consumers, which uncovered some critical areas for improvement. An overwhelming 61% of consumers feel that brands that should know them, simply don’t. Worse yet, these consumers feel that brands who have their personal data aren’t doing a good job of using it to predict their needs.

By harnessing visitor intent, marketers can better connect with their audiences and, as a result, deliver powerful experiences that will bring customers back for more.

2. Website Analytics and Usability 

One of the best ways to understand a customer’s intent is by investigating how they engage with your website. Another important consideration for overall CX is how much effort it takes for them to do so.

Oftentimes, websites are the first touchpoints consumers have with a brand, but according to digital marketing agency ALC the vast majority — 99% — aren’t there to buy. So how can we get them over the finish line? 

You can answer this question through a bit of reverse engineering. Consider how they came upon your site, as this can provide helpful insight into where these individuals get their information and the platforms they value (did they come from Instagram or from a news article?). Think about when they came and what motivated their decision to visit. For example, is it the beginning of the school year or perhaps a few weeks before summer break? Answering these questions can create a more complete picture of your customer’s motivations and enable you to serve up content that will drive them deeper into the funnel.

It’s also important to think about how they are navigating your site. It’s estimated that consumers form an opinion about a website in mere milliseconds. If they don’t like what they see in your web design or content, nearly 40% of visitors will cease engagement. Are the majority of prospects staying on the site for an extended period of time? Is there a pattern to how they move through it, or does the flow of their cursor seem haphazard in nature? These questions can help marketers understand if their sites are meeting key design tenets or draw attention to elements of a brand’s online presence that may be alienating prospects.

Related Article: Why They Click: The Psychology of Your Audience

3. Customer Satisfaction

Once you have converted these website visitors into customers, it’s important to gauge their level of satisfaction with the experience. This is often done by a brief survey. We’ve all likely received one by email or after we disconnect from a customer service representative. Marketers recognize how valuable these insights are to ensuring customer satisfaction and, largely, consumers value the opportunity to influence a brand’s actions.

Much like web analytics, individual brand interactions factor into the equation but don’t reveal the full picture. McKinsey has found that measuring satisfaction across the customer journey is 30% more predictive of overall customer satisfaction. It's vital that markets are able to see all the disparate data points that make up a customer’s relationship with a brand — from their initial visit to the website to a recent call they had with customer service. Without this level of visibility, they may lack the insight necessary to turn one-time purchasers into lifetime brand loyalists.

Related Article: How to Measure Customer Experience Beyond Net Promoter Score

4. Customer Advocacy

Loyalty is one of the most valuable currencies in the marketing world. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult to obtain. However, loyalty can elevate return customers to brand promoters, resulting in exponential ROI once achieved. A loyal customer goes beyond repeat purchasing to be a proponent of the brand, driving visibility and sales through word-of-mouth, online reviews, displaying or wearing branded goods, and other forms of endorsement.

Despite the influx of competition across industries today, Acquia’s research into global CX trends found that customers still have brand loyalty, with 51% promising life-long allegiance to a brand once it has earned this loyalty. The flip-side is equally as stark, with an overwhelming 76% of consumers polled globally claiming they will move on from a brand after a bad experience.

Being able to show loyalty through customer referrals and reviews is proving to be a very impactful metric for overall marketing success. While there is no one-size-fits-all roadmap to customer advocacy, it boils down to understanding your customers through holistic and comprehensive data and using this information to deliver the right message at the right moment through the right channel. Give them an experience they want to share and shout about from the rooftops.

Related Article: Customer Loyalty Is Based on the Little Things

5. Employee Engagement

We put so much energy behind the customer experience that it’s easy to let some of our most impactful brand advocates slip through the cracks. Employees are the lifeblood of any company. Ensuring they are happy and valued has numerous benefits, including higher productivity rates, increased sales revenue and greater employee retention. What’s more, the individuals in our call centers and behind our message boards act as the first human touchpoint for many customers. These individuals have the potential to be among our most influential brand advocates, as they spend the majority of their time connecting firsthand with viable prospects and return customers.

According to Gallup's 2017 poll on the State of the Global Workplace, employee engagement has remained stagnant among US and Canadian workers, presenting a lot of opportunity for improvement as companies vie to make CX their core differentiator.

Think about the ways your company can improve employee engagement and improve the lines of communication with those on the frontlines of customer interaction. These individuals have a wealth of knowledge to share that can inform the customer journey, and they want to be heard. This is truly a two-way street with benefits all around, employees, customers, and marketers included.

Marketers have made significant strides in recent years, but we must not lose momentum. Our metrics must keep pace with the times and reflect the maturity and sophistication of today’s customers. By shifting the lens through which we view our measurement and reporting, we will continue to validate the essential role of marketers for years to come.