The 12 A’s of Christmas
Santa has been busy thinking about what you want for Christmas
My early Christmas gift to one and all readers is my definitive A-Z list (with a twist ) of marketing in the digital age… the twist is that they all begin with the letter A. There’s optimisation for you.
Keeping in touch with the constantly shifting sands of the market is the lifeblood of every successful product or service. WPP have made substantial acquisitions into measurement, data and technology companies. The extensive data company investments in particular are designed to help clients connect the dots across the shifting sands of markets, channels and customers. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to find out more about your customers.
Anticipating customer needs in the market context is key to building the products and services that show how well we are able to evaluate and respond to the insights our analysis has uncovered. This isn’t news of course, (I am thinking back to my first read of Kotler in the 70s), but the window of opportunity uncovered in the analysis is narrowing. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to make products and services that are designed to be useful to your customers.
Now we have to make contact with the hearts and minds of the audiences that are most likely to be in market at any given moment. The mass media route in its own right is deeply flawed. Brand advertising may still lead the way but without the support of optimised digital content, it will only serve to excite interest in the sector once Google get in on the act. Their ability to serve up an endless supply of alternatives tests has earned the name of frenemy of brand agencies. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to find new ways to demonstrate how useful you can be to your customers.
The customer path to purchase is not a linear process. The interests of potential conquests constantly shifts depending on access to information throughout the recognition, interest, alternative evaluation, preference, conviction and desire to act process that might forever defy precision attribution. Yet, we must play the search, social, affiliate, mobile and analytics game because it is integral understanding life in the world of smart-phone and iPad-toting consumer. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to find new ways to provide the information your customers want, when they want it.
The conversion process is where we need to take a leaf out of Amazon’s pioneering approach. While their value proposition is predicated on selection, price and availability, the crux of the matter is one-click purchasing. The mission for every other business is to get as close to that model as possible. We need to work much harder to capture conquest data that will help us shorten the path to purchase. As Think with Google research reveals, the number of path to purchase touch points has increased from 7 to over 30 in the past few years. So incentivising the collection of contact data is of primary importance en-route to sales. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to find new ways to be useful to make it easy for your customers to make purchases.
Monitoring customer activity on-line (and synching with offline wherever possible) is one of the great benefits of digital marketing. The fact that consumer activity triggers cookies that identify activity and tags that fire information about events into the waiting arms of analytics tools and data management platforms is still, to me, mind-blowing. Companies such as acxiom, use data to help clients manage audiences and personalise customer experiences with extraordinary intimacy. Issues relating to customer privacy are not anywhere near as much a problem as the media would like us to think. If the analytics is focused on a mutually beneficial exchange of value, consumers are more than happy to play ball exchanging information for relevant communication. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to find new ways to understand how customers behave on the pathway to purchase.
As John Wanamaker (1838 – 1922) once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half. As any honest attribution specialist will tell you, little has changed. Despite the petabytes of analytics data cascading into our data sets, we have a problem stitching the disparate elements together in a way that makes sense. In the absence of the corroborated facts, we are still making educated guesses. Companies such as Visual IQ, for example, mash client campaign data, demographic and behavioral data with their into their “TrueAttribution” process that brings proprietary models, machine learning and algorithms into the mix. If the insights help reduce spend and increase ROMI something good is happening but is still not the true answer to John Wanamaker’s 100-year-old problem. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to find new ways to uncover the true cost-effective attributes of your campaign activities.
The most significant problem with analytics in the digital age is not the volume, velocity and variety of data. Nor is it the increasingly problematic shortfall of intelligent analysts. The problem is the vending of data: outputting actionable data in a format that helps those in the forefront of customer engagement do their job better and faster is the most critical issue. I am, particular, referring the content producers and programmers who add the finishing touches to constantly evolving campaign elements. By the time detailed analytical insights have reached them through layers of silos and vested interests, the key facts have often been watered down into general comment that devalues the whole process. The lack of testing in digital is also a major concern. Digital marketing provides a unique opportunity to allow customers to inform the creative process in ways that constantly finds new ways to increase productivity and drive down costs. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to constantly improve the performance of each campaign as it develops.
As I have discussed elsewhere, digital marketing provides us with the opportunity to constantly reduce expenditure, increase ROMI, streamline work processes and engage with customers in real-time. Automation has the potential to help us deliver all of the above. At the moment, it is predominantly the go-to weapon of B2B marketers engaged in lead nurturing, but it is also the driving force behind PPC and Display campaigns (which strangely enough we don’t tend to classify as automation tools). We need to go much further than building data capture templates, scoring models and personalised emails before the real benefits of automation can be realised. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to explore the money and tame saving benefits of marketing automation.
Encouraging customers to share positive experience needs to be built into the very essence of products and services. The problem is that satisfied customers are much less inclined to wax lyrical than dissatisfied customers are to vent frustration at the slightest opportunity. The advent of the IoT (Internet of things) could potentially provide customers with innumerable and uncomplicated opportunities to express liking and perhaps even affection with minimal effort and at the most opportune moment – when they are happily using said product or service. Have a look at the use of smiley faces at the checkout of PC World and Currys to see what I mean. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to explore new ways to helps customers spread the word on your products and services.
Red Bull and Go Pro have developed into mega brands because of their ability to organise events at which attendees pump out content that is deeply attractive and engaging to likeminded people. This UGC (User Generated Content) is invariably more Relevant, Original and Impactful (notice how I for ROI in there) than anything produced by agencies. With Instagram as the social channel of preference for college and University students, who will turn capturing and curating their own digital narrative on mobile phones, the tome is right to channel this habit into creating useful content that will help is personalise content like never before. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to turn customer experiences into sharable and reusable content.
Only when content engines devoid of human intervention begin precision engagements with customers in real-time (regardless of context) will we experience a real revolution in digital marketing. In essence we need to create habit-forming apps and content engines that customers come to regard as critical to everyday life. Loyalty in the digital age will be hard-won. Being indispensable to customers and on hand to service than round the clock will become a minimum standard. Make sure your New Year’s resolution is to prepare for the Internet of Things and the advent of the Micro Marketing Machine. Happy Christmas and New Year to one and all. If you think 2015 was interesting/challenging, 2016 will make us all think again.