Taking the wheel of the customer journey is one thing, but ensuring it runs smoothly is another. Once you have broken down siloes between data, technologies and teams, and built a unified foundational marketing hub, it’s time to begin stage two; experience management.
As rising connectivity sees consumer interactions increasingly split across channels, devices and tools, integrated marketing communication is becoming essential to maintain control, loyalty, and results. This not only requires accurately tracking individual purchase paths so messages can be continually aligned with unique needs, but also continually monitoring the finer details.
While the occasional broken link or mismatched image might not seem like major mistakes, they can have a highly negative impact on experiences. And that makes it vital to keep a persistent watch on three core factors: consistency, quality, and reputation.
The question is: what exactly does that involve?
1. Brand consistency
In the rush to create a strong presence that covers myriad touchpoints, it’s easy to forget the importance of making sure every representation of your brand reflects its values and mission. But doing so is critical to differentiate your brand from the rest. In Elon Musk’s words, “brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product.”
Most organisations develop brand usage guidelines to ensure messaging and brand asset usage is the same across channels. See, for example, the infamously meticulous Apple identity handbook that leaves no aspect of branding uncovered. They understand that using the same logo, colour palette, fonts, imagery, and linguistics in every creative execution contributes to building a cohesive brand perception.
Such organisations also know that getting any of it wrong can make brands appear worse than passé; they can look disorganised and create doubt in consumers’ minds as to whether companies can deliver on the promise of their products or services. But putting these rules into action and achieving the same look and feel across a flourishing set of digital channels is challenging. To ensure absolute uniformity, organisations need both an internal commitment to consistency and a means of ensuring guidelines are followed, such as technology that coordinates brand assets.
By adopting automated tools that connect with the foundational hub that oversees digital experiences, you can instantly police branding elements on multiple channels. Plus, choosing platforms with native error scanning capabilities will allow you to quickly spot issues and address them before they have a detrimental effect on consumer opinion.
2. Experience Quality
Delivering high-quality experiences across channels is a clear demonstration of brand credibility on multiple fronts. If websites and other digital mediums contain broken links, misspellings, poorly structured material and accessibility issues, they not only signal that a brand has lost its control and command in the marketplace, but also indicate that providing exceptional and engaging content for consumers is not a priority. This was illustrated by an oversight on the Milwaukee Bucks Twitter page, when images of balloons intended to promote its 50th anniversary were not removed after the firing of head coach Jason Kidd, leading to questions about whether the decision was being inappropriately celebrated.
Yet meeting this bar can be tough in the fragmented modern media landscape. In the days brands only had brochure-ware sites and a handful of content authors, it was easy to manually review pages before they were published. But the range of channels that brands must embrace today to keep pace with their customers have made it near impossible to catch and remedy every mistake, although technology can also offer a solution.
In recent years, the number of tools available to coordinate quality control has grown, which means marketers can now quickly and efficiently assess media at scale with the help of smart tech. Furthermore, they can also guard against slipping behind consumer trends by opting for tools with the capacity to expand evaluation scope as new communication methods emerge.
3. Protecting Brand Reputation
Amid increasing privacy regulation, dedication to safeguarding consumer information is crucial. In addition to keeping practices on the right side of data law — such as the GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act — it can help prove that brands care about protecting consumers, and thereby sustain positive reputations and trust.
As a result, marketers need to focus on getting consent procedures in order before any tracking can begin. Since GDPR enforcement, many tools have arisen to meet the demand for streamlining the consent process and it’s worth noting that the best ones were conceived by marketers working together with privacy legislators and counsels to enable a customised approach; with in-built ability to meet the legal requirements of different regions. Despite the risk consent provisions carry that individuals may deny access and reduce data availability, brands may be surprised to find that when requests are executed transparently and seamlessly, most consumers will provide the explicit consent they need. Moreover, as the future success of companies will depend on how quickly and capably a company is able to launch intelligent marketing initiatives rooted in data, implementing a sound process for capturing user consent is key.
Ultimately, brand power lies in the minds of consumers. So, dis-jointed messaging, vision, and identity can have only one result: a convoluted perception of brands that weakens the overall digital experience. If marketers want to stand out against the competition and make a lasting positive impression on consumers across every single channel, it’s essential not to lose momentum after the first stage of customer journey mastery. Only through continuous experience management can they keep engagement, quality, and reputations strong.