This is the experience era, where experience is the difference. It’s where amazing experiences lead to amazing endorsements. And independent endorsements represent the most powerful and trusted source. That’s why endorsements matter… more than ever!
To test this theory, we ventured to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch earlier this year to share the latest research with Consumer NZ clients. This independent, for purpose organisation is leading the way with endorsement marketing and it’s no wonder why.
Based on our great marketing travels, here’s a recap of what we discovered…
Consumers are in two minds
Yep it’s true, consumers are in two minds. Clued up and connected consumers have unprecedented power. They are super charged. They have so much choice and voice!
But at the same time, they are overwhelmed and over it. The world is a crazy and chaotic place, so there’s a move towards mindfulness… to making things simpler and easier.
Customer experience rules
That’s why the customer experience rules.
The experience belongs to the customer. You know, all that customer-centric stuff! We’re talking about human emotions. Like Brian Solis suggests, we’re talking about what the customer experiences, remembers and shares. These emotional reactions happen all the time… whether the journey is designed to be amazing or not.
According to Gartner research in 2018, around two thirds of marketing leaders strongly agree that customer experience has become a decisive source of advantage… and that the connected journey positively impacts performance. I’m not too sure what the other third are thinking… they’re either a long way behind, or a long way ahead!
It’s important to remember that rising standards are set elsewhere. Look outside your own business. Look outside your own industry. Think of those brands that truly deliver the kind of experiences that are genuinely in demand… the kind of experiences that are fast, transparent, personalised, frictionless and delightful.
Proven business performance
If the experience has become a decisive source of advantage, then it’s no surprise at all that the experience significantly impacts results.
In fact, a McKinsey & Company survey back in 2014 quantified the influence of customer journey transformations. Customer satisfaction up 15 to 20%. Business revenue up 10 to 15%. Employee engagement up 15 to 20%. Cost to serve down 15 to 20%.
This matters a lot. This goes way beyond warm and fuzzy stuff.
Independent endorsement rocks
If the experience rules, then endorsement rocks!
Instead of being the cherry on top, ratings and reviews have become part of the main meal. They’ve become a must have, not a nice to have. They’ve become a consumer expectation:
89% consider ratings and reviews to be an essential resource (PowerReviews 2017)
84% trust ratings and reviews as much as personal recommendations (BrightLocal 2017)
Consumers can not and do not want to be experts in every single category. If the hard research has been expertly performed by an independent and trusted brand, then happy days.
Save time and energy… tick. Feel more confident… tick. Make informed decisions… tick. That’s what it’s all about!
Most revered endorsement
Of course, not all endorsements are created equal.
Endorsement marketing is all about the ‘emotional transfer’. For both leading and challenger brands, it can help to build market share. It can help to attract a premium.
So, it’s important to know that the value and effectiveness of an endorsement are directly correlated with source credibility. This source credibility is based on a complex combination of awareness, expertise and trust… all in the mind of the consumer.
Based on primary research conducted by Kudos Organisational Dynamics in 2017, Consumer has almost universal awareness and is rated the most relevant, accessible, useful, rigorous, influential, respected and trusted endorsement in New Zealand.
Wow, that’s quite a list! It might explain why about three in four Kiwis feel more confident about a product or service that has been rubber-stamped by Consumer.
Five things to think about
Like so many things in life, it all comes down to trust. And of course, being relevant and useful. That’s the recipe for success!
Whether you’re just getting started or have mastered the art, here are five ways to enhance your approach to endorsement marketing:
Focus on the moments that matter
Build meaning through integration
Use multiple forms of social proof
Deliver visually engaging content
Continue to test, learn and refine
We know that an independent endorsement acts a significant ‘tipping factor’.
So, if you walk away with one thing, make sure your business has that ‘tipping factor’!