Brands who use creativity in CX achieve higher returns according to two key business metrics – financial performance and McKinsey’s Innovation Score.
McKinsey developed a quantitative measure that could be used to examine the link between creativity and business performance – the Award Creativity Score – an index based on the prestigious Cannes Lions awards given each year for advertising and marketing excellence.
The ASC index looks at three factors:
- The total number of Lions won by each company between 2001 and 2016, with more points awarded for the most prestigious awards;
- The breadth of categories represented;
- Consistency over time, based on the number of years the company has been recognised.
Creativity brings rewards
The researchers at McKinsey found that the most creative companies did certain things differently. They exhibited a set of four business practices that they believe drives marketing creativity, the ability to innovate and the capacity to turn those virtues into recognisable business value.
When the study looked at the financial results of companies whose ACS scores were in the top bracket, it found they performed better than their peers in three key measures:
- 67 per cent had above-average organic revenue growth.
- 70 per cent had above-average total return to shareholders (TRS).
- 74 per cent had above-average net enterprise value or NEV/forward EBITDA. (Earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation).
This research also ties in with findings from Forrester. The global market research experts found that investing in creativity helps firms achieve higher returns over a six-year period (see image below).
In its The Cost Of Losing Creativity report, Forrester found that CX is mired in sameness. “Technology has become a commodity, while culture, creativity, and strategy make all the difference,” says Vittorio Bonori, CEO of Publicis Groupe Italy.
Chief Marketing Officers need to design for differentiated benefits, currently nearly every brand offers the same digital experience because they’re all addressing the same customer needs, using the same technology and designing for the same mobile app usage. CMOs need to look beyond functional experiences in order to break out of their CX rut.
What makes a brand any different from another? The photo below shows digital sameness within the travel industry.
Defining the benefits
Brands who invest in creativity in CX can expect to find four significant benefits for their customer experience:
Creation of an indelible brand impression with consumers: Having a great creative CX experience helps cut through the clutter of sameness, creates an emotional attachment and will drive higher returns.
Follow through on the brand promise with digital execution: Creative experiences that embed brand purpose and values with a tech-fueled solution help connect the uniqueness of the company with the emotional needs of its customers via the convenience of technology.
Attracting more brand-interested potential customers: Creativity in CX generates more interest from prospective clients and helps grow your overall customer base. A steady stream of new clients entering your brand franchise also scales growth and stops your business relying on its best customers.
Retains brand-loyal customers who make the best advocates: Great CX experiences show customers the benefits of loyalty and patronage to a brand. They become lifetime purchasers and can be the ones to sing the loudest when people ask for recommendations.
Go beyond the app
Creative experiences are more than just websites or apps with seamless navigation and fast-loading pages.
Creative experiences go beyond that by evoking a sense of curiosity according to Michael Vromans, Chief Creative Officer at DPDK Digital Agency.
“They tickle customers’ minds by bridging the gap between reality and imagination. In doing so, they leave a lasting impression.
“At DPDK, we see the creative experience as an evolution of CX. It involves applying creativity to every customer touchpoint and placing it at the heart of CX. Creativity can transform the CX landscape. I’ll even go as far as to say that we need to change the way we look at CX: from customer experience to creative experience,” he adds.
Make creativity a business priority
As obvious as it may sound, creativity and innovation need to be business priorities. Even more important, a company needs to execute on those priorities in its daily practices. This can be difficult, given the relentless pressures on business leaders to hit quarterly financial targets.
But as McKinsey’s study found, in companies within the top ACS percentage, senior executives served as models for creativity and innovation. They didn’t just encourage their employees to pursue those objectives, they put themselves on the line to deliver it.
In addition, almost 60 percent of companies in the top ACS quartile self-identify as industry shapers or innovation leaders versus slightly more than one-third of their peers and an impressive 70% of them view marketing spend as an investment rather than an expense.
Use multiple sources to discover what your customer wants. Advanced analytics, ethnographic research, and behavioural analysis will all help you to understand your existing clients intimately and use those experiences to attract new prospects.
The most creative companies employ two particular practices more than other firms – they regularly observe customers in the customers’ own environments, and they understand the problems customers are seeking to solve through use of their products and services.
Put creativity at the heart of your CX
Rather than adding something creative at the end of your CX experience, initiate the customer journey with it in mind. Have a defined list of deliverables which creatively differentiates your brand from others in your market space.
While it’s true that creativity is something that can’t really be managed, it’s also often the case that ideas come out of the blue or from moments of deep introspection.
And as the writer Jack London (paraphrased) noted: “You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.”
When you make creativity a priority, it allows all your teams from different departments and fields of expertise to work together in unison toward a shared vision. Creativity becomes the default in all your marketing, and that’s when the really exceptional examples are produced.
Get started with Beacon
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