Is people-based marketing the fundamental shift required to move from viewing consumer behaviour in the context of channels, to placing consumers at the centre of marketing strategies?
Today’s consumers have more choice and control over brand interactions than ever before. At any given moment, they expect highly relevant, friction-free experiences, via the channels that are right for them.
Most consumers (96%) factor in positive experiences when deciding whether to make a future purchase, and more than half (52%) are prepared to walk away from a brand that doesn’t meet their personalisation requirements.
These lofty expectations aren’t unreasonable, but in a world where consumers interact via a dizzying array of channels, devices and touchpoints, they can’t be met by traditional marketing approaches in which brands use siloed, channel-specific strategies.
According to Abode and Econsultancy’s 2017 Digital Trends Briefing, customer experience is the primary way for brands to differentiate themselves from the competition, so it’s time for a fresh approach that delivers a coordinated, relevant experience. And people-based marketing provides the solution.
What is people-based marketing?
Traditionally, most brands operate in silos, with marketing teams divided based on channels such as direct mail, email, display advertising and paid search. The trouble with such division, however, is that each department works to its own agenda, using different measurements of success, and — critically — storing important customer and prospect information in separate systems.
Without a comprehensive view of their customers and prospects, marketers can’t create specific, high-value audience segments to target or deliver the personalised messages and experiences that meet their unique needs and preferences.
People-based marketing is a fundamental shift in approach from viewing consumer behaviour in the context of channels, to placing consumers at the centre of marketing strategies. It means understanding who your customers and prospects are and what they like, tracking their interactions across multiple channels and devices, and uniquely tailoring creative messages, offers and tactics for each audience.
Getting started with people-based marketing requires three fundamental steps:
1. Unify data from multiple sources
To gain a fuller view of their customers and prospects, brands need to identify and consolidate the audience data they hold in disparate systems. Where possible, this should include interaction data from digital and offline channels (mobile devices, website, call centre, store, etc.), as well as demographic, intent, interest and other audience attribute data from first and third-party sources.
By merging and de-duplicating this disparate data in an anonymous and privacy safe way, marketers can gain a more complete, people-based view of consumers and their journey across online and offline channels, and devices. Marketers can then use this insight to improve experiences, targeting, frequency and reach.
2. Measure performance beyond the last click
Marketers recognise that email offers, display placements, search keywords and other tactics offer different kinds of value to customers and prospects, depending on where they are in their journey. Yet many marketers are still relying on last-click measurement, which gives all the credit to the last touchpoint, and neglects the contribution of supporting channels and tactics earlier in the consumer journey that played a role in influencing a desired action.
Successfully delivering on a people-based marketing strategy means moving away from last click to an audience-centric, multi-touch attribution approach that measures the influence of each touchpoint along a consumer’s path to conversion. When audience data is unified with multi-touch attribution, marketers can discover which messages, content, creative, and offers are resonating with target audiences, and influencing behaviours such as online conversions, in-store purchases, or loyalty programme enrolments.
Moreover, when brands are able to accurately measure the value of each interaction, they can optimise the experience at each stage of the consumer journey. This translates to a measurable increase in engagement, conversions, and ROI, with brands that excel at customer experience growing revenues 4-8% above their market.
3. Move towards cross-functional teams
Optimising experiences means that a brand’s marketing and advertising must be synchronised across every channel, touchpoint and device a consumer comes into contact with – a nearly impossible task when marketers manage channels in isolation, with their own strategies, tactics and metrics.
To design holistic marketing strategies that span multiple channels, brands need to rethink the traditional organisational structure and move towards cross-functional teams that can view marketing through the lens of the consumer. An audience-based approach to attribution can help break down organisational silos, by taking into account all marketing channels and how they work together to drive a common set of success metrics. They can then use this insight to better allocate spend for maximum effort on varying consumer segments.
Customer experience is everything in the age of the empowered consumer. Seamless, tailored interactions will drive conversions and long-term customer loyalty, while disjointed experiences will quickly push customers into the waiting arms of competitors. A fundamental shift towards people-based marketing, where brands put real people at the centre of a holistic omnichannel strategy, will deliver the relevant and personalised experiences required to drive meaningful business results.