As marketers we’re witnessing a gradual but rapid shift from a narrow focus on separate channels or audience segments towards a customer-centric view across all of them.
With the abundance of customer data and customers becoming spoilt by a choice of channels, the emphasis starts to be on “knowing the customer” – not “knowing the channel”.
The marketer’s role will continue to shift, leading to the need for realisation that the intersection of data and technology is now more important than ever. Technological advancements have made customer journeys no longer linear but complicated.
For example, a customers could be made up of a conversation on social media followed by an initial visit to a website, seeing some display ads and eventually a return to that website and a purchase.
Customers journeys can no longer be easily monitored and initiated with straightforward individual campaigns and a single email plugging a product no longer seems to fit into that reality either.
Given the sheer number of touchpoints and the consequent mass of data to draw insight from, we will soon see brands abandon ‘campaign marketing’ and instead focus on interactions based on context, where context is built around data and insight. To develop a refined approach to marketing relying on interactions, marketers need to realise that the technological development has empowered both parties in the dialogue: marketers and customers.
It is indisputable that marketers have gained access to cutting-edge technologies to help them generate customer insight, but advances in mobile technology have increased customers’ expectations too. With mobile e-commerce, social media and constant web browsing, making purchases on the go is the norm.
Hence the interactions have to be intelligent – not only they need to be consistent across all channels but also they need to be heavily grounded into our knowledge about that particular customer in order to add that extra level of relevance and accuracy which really matters to the burgeoning customers.
Data management technology such as DMPs will begin to become more important due to the ability to provide a bespoke way of interpreting data that matches a variety of needs. In the past DMP was mainly used in digital advertising landscape, but with its ability to gather, sort and manipulate larger data sets in real time, today DMP is a piece of the technological puzzle that fits into the larger real-time digital ecosystem and its potential must be recognised in powering intelligent interactions.
Today, customers expect to be engaged in a two-way communication process with brands. If you wish to communicate with them effectively you need to know what channel they are likely to choose and when. Then you need to know what to say to them.
DMPs, which consolidate user data into a centralised platform, can help marketers gain very precise information about their audiences. This is useful in providing greater insight into the needs, preferences, behaviour and interest of your customers. In fact, DMPs can also make their mark in the customer journey.
Brands can use that technology to determine what content, offers and information specific audience groups are shown on their own websites. So the technology is there, and the intent, but we need to remember that without good quality data it simply won’t work.
When the question everyone is asking no longer is whether the data is important but how to work with data to drive the most value, businesses are determined to demonstrate their attitudinal change to customers to gain their respect. Ensuring a consistent voice in the multichannel is important but in order to be a one step ahead, brands should rethink the customer experience in the context of ensuring customer centricity.
Technologies such as DMPs help consolidate user data into a centralised platform and provide that extra level of knowledge about your customer to enable you to truly interact with them via their preferred channels rather than sending a single email plugging a product.
In such circumstances I see many leading brands subscribing to an interactions-based approach in future, while ‘campaign marketing’ goes out of the window soon.
By Colin Grieves, general manager, Experian Digital Audience Services