"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Customer expectations have fundamentally changed. Today’s consumers expect to be understood and spoken to as individuals. They want relevant content and offers. They expect to be engaged through their preferred channels at the right times but with respectful frequency.
Marketers must meet those expectations if they want to win and keep customers in a world where the competition is never more than a few clicks away. To do so, marketers must connect to prospects and customers in more meaningful ways than ever before. Marketers must also evolve constantly to meet those expectations as they shift.
Seamlessness is the name of the game. Now, more than ever, it’s in sight but will require smart investments in data, science and technology to make it possible.
The first rule of seamlessness is reach. If you want to reach future customers at the right moment, marketers need to be capable of delivering custom-tailored messages on a variety of devices and channels, probably through several platforms and partners. Programmatic buying platforms have gone a long way in making aggregated reach possible, at least for display advertising, but in the last few years, we’ve seen that capability extended to mobile, social, video and connected TV.
The good news for marketers is that the device-ification of our physical world will make seamless marketing a reality in the next decade. We can see an encouraging example already in Internet protocol television (IPTV) adoption. Though the television station of yesteryear could never deliver custom-tailored ad selections to individual TV sets, it will be only a matter of years until we reach critical mass of IPTVs in the most advanced markets.
Dish predicts more than 20 million US households will have its connected TV by the end of 2015. In the UK, Sky pegs its number at 8 million households. The global IPTV market is expected to reach $80 billion by 2020.
When it comes to reach, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. That is why user-level data is critical to helping advertisers discern where to place their messages and when.
True seamlessness is not about being everywhere at once, but being at the right place at the right time. This is another example of where we’ll see programmatic technologies play a leading role, helping marketers to purchase the right impressions at the perfect moment across the full spectrum of connected channels and devices.
In a truly seamless world, marketers could use a unified buying platform for multichannel programmatic buying. When an IPTV customer browses Twitter on her iPhone during a brand’s commercial, for example, the same brand can deliver a complementary, custom-tailored message via Twitter to reinforce the brand message delivered on TV.
Marketers must understand consumers as individuals and address them according to personal preferences, expectations and behaviors. Buckets are no longer an option. Hypersegmentation at the user level will be necessary across channels, so marketers must invest in technologies that will enable them to build user-individual profiles and act on data in real time. Hypersegmentation will become a critical component of seamless marketing because it puts the customer at the center and helps marketers to respond to changing customer expectations.
The next-generation CRM platforms required to power seamless marketing will help marketers access a unified view of individuals by recording interactions from across all measurable touch points online and offline. That data can be used to power purchasing decisions – where, when and how often to reach a user – and for selecting the best possible message to drive the intended result and build the relationship over time.
The third and final dimension of seamless marketing is the message itself. It’s an obvious “seam” in the marketing strategy if you reach the right user at the right moment in the right channel, but then fail to deliver a message that is not personal, relevant or is too redundant. People were once used to seeing generic offers and ads. Today, when consumers see ads for things that have no bearing on their lives or interests, they get annoyed.
In the context of seamlessness, “message” becomes synonymous with “narrative.” It’s an ad strategy that defines which message or version of a message fits best when. This narrative is not only about the relevant product and offer, but a range of other factors, such as whether a promotion would be more appropriate at a certain time or if it would be more effective to show a message on a rainy day or in the evening.
Algorithm and data-driven programmatic messaging technologies will be required in order to customize the narrative on a per-user and per-time basis to show a series of creative. This is much bigger than a product recommendation engine. There is a rising demand for relevance with each and every interaction, and there are big rewards for brands that can deliver. These brands earn the right to learn more about individual customers (people) when they provide a valuable experience in exchange.
As channels converge and connectivity creeps into more aspects of our lives, marketers must use technology, data and insights to reach customers in a seamless way. True seamlessness is not about being everywhere all at once, but being at the right place at just the right time, and delivering the perfect message.
Sure, brand consistency plays an important role in that. But consistently spamming customers isn't going to help build lasting relationships. Use smart data and programmatic technologies to discern the best devices, channels, messages and timing to delight customers and grow relationships for their entire lifetime.