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From impossible to possible: Three steps to reaching the always-on customer

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3rd Jun 2015
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Today’s customers interact with brands at multiple points along the path to purchase. Physical stores and even web browsers are no longer the only touchpoints where a customer might experience your brand, as consumers quickly and increasingly adopt smartphones, tablets, wearable devices and connected products, just to name a few. 

What’s more, customers expect a seamless, personalised experience every time, through every channel. Understanding your customer and how they interact with your business is mission critical in creating positive consumer experiences, increasing conversions and enjoying loyal, long-term customer relationships.

However, because of the increasing variety of disparate channels, touch points, and technologies available to marketers, their ability to reliably piece together a holistic view of the customer is extremely complicated – especially when working to do this at scale. Centralising and merging your engagement data and resolving cross-channel identity data at the customer level – not just the device level – is crucial to marketing measurement and building more effective, targeted advertising strategies and campaigns.

So how can marketers truly reach the always-on consumer and engage with them when they want, how they want? How can brands make the shift towards a unified customer view? Understanding and mastering this wealth of information is the key. Let’s take a look at three key steps towards cross-channel marketing success.

1. Determine your objectives

No cross-channel marketing initiative can start without clearly defined objectives that your entire organization is bought into. Maybe you’re looking to convert shoppers from one-time only buyers to repeat shoppers, or perhaps you want to upsell and cross sell more effectively. Or perhaps you want a more effective retargeting strategy, so you don’t send a high-value customer an acquisition message, or send a shopper an offer for something they already purchased. Whatever it may be, you’ll need to get the people, the processes and the technology within your organisation to work together. Make sure that the people on your search team are aligned with your display team and that they’re incentivised to collaborate on data-driven initiatives. You may need to think about forging new partnerships or invest in new technology to make this happen. 

2. Map out and manage data sources

Once you have identified your objectives, take a look at your current sources of first-party data to level-set where you are, before you can determine where you need to go. No marketer can effectively deliver engaging customer experiences without having a cohesive view of where customers are interacting with the brand, and what data is available about those interactions. If necessary, work with marketing peers or other groups in your organisation to map customer contact and profile data and understand where they buy, why they buy, what they buy, and how they buy. Disparate data sources should be consolidated into one central source, providing better access to information. These efforts will help give you an uninterrupted line of sight through the customer journey and a deeper understanding of which marketing efforts work and which don’t.

3. Identify the gaps

Once you have a firm handle on all of your current data sources, determine where there are gaps that need to be filled – whether those are gaps in data visibility, or gaps in data activation. For each channel, a customer will complete several actions and activities, so determine where you’ll need to augment your current view of the customer with second-party or third-party information. Also, ask questions like “Am I getting all the necessary user-level data from all of my brand channels?” You may need a different approach to data collection on mobile than you do for the web, for example. Also consider if there are any large stores of data, such as CRM, that you’re not using at all. How can that data be better leveraged to create a cohesive customer view? 

Reaching the always-on customer wherever they are and however they want to be communicated to is a matter of understanding and leveraging the value of an organization’s most valuable asset – its customer engagement data – to identifying who the customer is and what they want at every step of their journey. Whilst implementing a single customer view is an ongoing journey, there are changes you can implement now that will make a big difference to your marketing efforts and ROI in a very short space of time.

Neil Joyce is MD EMEA at Signal.

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