Top marketing mistakes to avoid in 2021: A CX Network guide

Lessons from CX experts at Boster Biological Technology, NuLeaf Naturals, Global Sound Group and PureVPN on the worst marketing mistakes and how to avoid them

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Adam Jeffs

Customer engagement

Despite efforts by many brands to advance engagement strategies, the shifting nature of consumer preferences, coupled with turbulent marketplaces, can trip organizations into marketing mistakes. As seen in the 2020 edition of CX Network’s Top CX marketing mistakes to avoid guide some of the most common and detrimental marketing mistakes include the likes of over-personalized ‘creepy marketing’ or an overreliance on metrics. As these mistakes, among a range of other common ones, can be particularly damaging to customer loyalty and brand reputation, it is critical that brands ensure marketing strategies are getting it right, especially considering how much customer preferences have changed over the last year.

As the world begins to emerge from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the disruption and change of 2020 has evidenced the importance of constantly refining marketing strategies so they are intuitive and relevant to the social climate and customer attitudes. Now more than ever, brands need to be plugged in to the voice of the customer in order to proactively predict and prepare for these shifts in customer preferences and to adjust marketing communications accordingly.

And yet, recent research reveals that 45 per cent of brands do not have a digital marketing strategy, suggesting that if they are attempting digital marketing initiatives, they are doing it in the dark. Digital marketing will be critical in ‘the new normal’ and brands will need a solid strategy to ensure that their voice is not lost in the crowd

This guide will offer a fresh look at four marketing mistakes to avoid in 2021, leveraging insights from a range of CX professionals to offer updated strategies so your marketing approach does not miss the mark.

Failure to create an emotional connection

Creating an emotional connection through the marketing content you produce has always been  desirable for brands to drive customer loyalty. Some research suggests that 80 per cent of emotionally engaged consumers will promote brands they are loyal to among their family and friends, compared to 50 per cent of the less engaged.

Following the social disruption that Covid-19 has caused to the lives of many customers, this demand for an emotional connection with brands is only increasing, as prospects begin to show preferences for brands that communicate understanding and empathy, with nine out of ten Americans asserting the importance of empathy, fairness and unity in a recent Ipsos poll.

According to CJ Xia, VP of marketing and sales at worldwide biotechnology distributor Boster Biological Technology, rather than following traditional marketing scripts that can feel artificial and impersonal, brands should begin to ‘think outside the box’.

“If your target audience cannot feel an emotional connection with you, then they are just going to feel annoyed with the content,” explains Xia. “They won’t feel any need to engage with you since they don’t find the content, or you for that matter, to be relatable.”

The best way to generate an emotional connection with customers is to ensure that produced content is original, relatable, and is something that you yourself would personally engage with. To do this with accuracy organizations will need to delve into historical trends in customer interactions to discover what target audiences like to engage with.

“Add humour, and sentiments your marketing content, don’t just always focus on what the books teach you,” Xia remarks. “At times you have to analyze your target audience’s interaction behaviour online to understand how you can connect with them on a more personal level.”

Excusing CX mistakes just ‘because we said so’

Ian Kelly, VP of operations at organic CBD oil supplier NuLeaf Naturals, believes one of the laziest and most frustrating marketing mistakes is blaming customer experience inconveniences on policy alone.

“In recent years, we have had to face a lot of challenges, and every business has had to deal with difficult to please customers,” notes Kelly. “But the ‘because we said so’ answer just doesn't cut it anymore and will not cut it in 2021.”

Kelly maintains that if a policy is causing major friction with even one customer, it is worth examining how to make this experience run smoothly. If an organization can put policies in place that protect employees but also give them the opportunity to go off-script to solve genuine customer issues, customers will have smoother experience overall.

“This is not only desirable for customers,” Kelly explains. “It is better for your frontline staff who always have to be the bearers of bad news and handle the potential escalation of a situation with customers who are frustrated by policy excuses.”

Failure to reply to customer feedback

Many of us may have found ourselves in a position where we want to provide feedback on an experience we have received, but it can often feel as though we are not heard. James Dyble, managing director of music and sound promotion company Global Sound Group, flags that failure to respond to customer feedback is one of the most common marketing mistakes that brands make.

“One of the biggest marketing mistakes I witness almost every day, is companies who carry out social media marketing but are only there when the initial posts go live,” explains Dyble. “I often see countless customers commenting and engaging but I do not see the companies replying.”

Some research has found that when a business replies to at least 25 per cent of their online customer reviews, on average, they earn 35 per cent more revenue. By turning a blind eye to customer reviews you are turning away from potential revenue, as the customers that leave reviews are the ones that want to do business with an organization and care enough to leave advice or suggestions.

While of course it is possible that these brands are responding in private messages, many of these questions could be answered in a public forum, to allow other prospects to see what is being discussed, notes Kelly. Responding to feedback offers two major advantages, in that you can both seek to understand and investigate customer concerns to improve CX in the future while publically displaying that you genuinely care about the experience your customers have with your brand.

Website design failures

Ensuring that your website is well designed and conducive to seamless user experiences is one of the core components of good CX. However, according to Muhammed Khan, digital marketing strategist at global virtual private network service provider PureVPN, this is a CX component that many brands are still not getting right. Khan notes that while user interface is one of the most important aspects of website design, many brands can get distracted with implementing sophisticated graphics that may be slowing down service speeds.

With 75 per cent of customers admitting that they judge a business’ credibility based on website design, this is not an area that brands can  afford to make mistakes. Website design failures, such as poor loading speed, can be extremely harmful to brand reputation and revenue, with 79 per cent of shoppers stating that they would not return to purchase from a slow loading website.

 “Although animated and 3D graphics make your website look more attractive, it often increases per page load-time, and most designers recommend using a flat website design approach,” explains Khan. “A flat website design approach uses minimal stylistic elements to provide a 2D or flat interface appearance that, along with a classic look, offers a better user experience through fast page-load speed.”

Aside from being easier and cheaper to implement, a flat website design offers numerous advantages for customer experience. These range from enhanced readability and legibility, effective and quick navigation on web and mobile and adjustability in terms of adaptive and responsive design, to simply being much easier for developers to manage and reduced load for the digital system.

Final remarks

Now, more than ever, customers need extra information, assistance and a feeling that a brand truly cares for them, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. As such, it will be critical in 2021 to ensure that your marketing communications leave customers feeling supported and cared for.

Ensuring that you avoid common and detrimental marketing mistakes, such as failure to respond to customer feedback or forge an emotional connection, gives brands an opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition with marketing initiatives that avoid causing undue frustration.