The evolving digital landscape is changing the way brands must communicate with their audiences to establish relevant, timely and actionable dialogues. We must remind ourselves that while brands may operate in channels, customers most certainly do not.
It’s critical to find a way to talk to targets online and offline — responding to their fickle natures with an experience that adapts and changes as often as their minds do. They are on a consumer journey, and you must join them.
The first stop involves laying a strong foundation by defining your customers and truly understanding all of their nuances. Once you do this, you can communicate in their language about their passions at the right time and right mindset. Be smart about how you leverage available data angles to power your media and online strategies. Your data mining should include, among other things, site behaviors (what customers are doing on websites: searches, product interests, previous behaviors), environmental variables (the type of technology they’re using and their preferences for viewing content: screen resolutions, browsers, operating systems) and temporal elements (time of day, day of week and frequency. What did we say? How many times did we message them?).
The next step to bring it all together is data activation. You can’t manage the message unless you have the data to inform and confirm those consumer behaviors in a centralized place. For an omni-channel solution to be successful, you must have the following foundation elements:
- Consolidated data for a holistic picture (offline behaviors, too) and a centralized analytics solution
- Comprehensive data that includes all interactions (in-store, with call center reps, etc.), all contact points and channels
- Distributable data available to distribute to channels so they can activate on it
- Scalable data to ensure the targets and segments you are focusing on as a business are big enough to make an impact
Then, take action by thinking big and starting small. Plan where you want to go with your data knowledge and determine what steps you need to take to get there. Begin thinking of this as a customer optimization challenge and not a media or site optimization issue. Buy-in from your company, media partners and vendors will all be critical, so showing the small wins from each step helps create the momentum needed to gain organizational alignment and support.
In this data-driven world, you can transform the way you work by using internal technology and creative support to understand how and what assets to create. Testing is instrumental, so look at the approach to the consumer problem from beginning to end — defining what information you want to track up front so you know if you delivered on the results and hypotheses at the end.
Customers are on a journey with your brand, so you must be ready to escort them on their way and stay top-of-mind. There are too many disjointed touchpoints in a customer’s experience; you must tie your key messages to a specific destination, connecting the messages to the promotion and aligning them with other touchpoints.
First, make sure your site is optimized to capture fundamental data and ensure your targeted messages are received as intended. Use site and display content targeted together as a single campaign to best speak to customers. If you have customers clicking banners, consider driving them one step further in the sales funnel and move them closer to conversion. Think about the entire site experience, and leverage the destination as much as the delivery mechanism to optimize their journey with your brand. A data management platform (DMP) should be used to collect, centralize, synthesize, analyze and optimize the data. Keep using the next set of data points to feed the data-centric ecosystem, enrich the next conversation and expand the customer journey.
You can also change the way your organization thinks about segmented data, and work to create a cohesive consumer experience across all touchpoints — including retail stores, call centers and online support. Creating a unified message does not mean using the same message across the board; instead, create an adaptive message that understands the customer’s need at each touchpoint.
Finally, focus on the end goal, which is not about driving the next sale but rather about better understanding your audience with every interaction. The more you know and the more data you synthesize, the faster your organization can react. Continue to learn more, make your tools work better together, break down silos and make the data actionable with a positive ROI.
In conclusion, make sure you:
- Provide a relevant experience to a fickle, changing consumer
- Speak to consumers knowledgably at every touchpoint
- Capture ROI to prove the program, which leads to adoption
You must effectively manage the messages sent to customers to help move them through the funnel from prospect to conversion. You are no longer just optimizing media; you are using an integrated solution that utilizes all sources of data and information about your customers to solve brand challenges.