This is a two-part series that explores an increasing understanding of the customer as technology and customer behavior evolves and what business must do to keep up with this evolution.
Customer value means how the Customer defines value NOT the business
Direct marketing principles defined customer value not by Pepper and Rogers’ standards; rather the business took this stance:
- How much revenue does that customer give to me? How often do they come to my stores? When was the last purchase they made?
- This was an age old model called Recency, Frequency, Monetization. Customer value was defined based on company-defined goals.
- Business treated customer differently based on where they fit within this model.
Online marketing paved the way to truly understanding customer journey.
The Purchase Funnel – Understanding the path to purchase
Business became adept at modelling the customer path to purchase, predicated on specific triggers defined from years of observation and experimentation. Business was able to help drive consumer consideration down this funnel with measured accuracy. Overtime, this simplified funnel morphed with defined tactics that were specific to each stage. Variations of this funnel provided considerations of user journey on the website, online and through mobile.
With the rise of technology and pervasiveness of information, however, the path to purchase can compress each of these levels so they occur concurrently. The journey from consideration to purchase can happen in seconds as opposed to days or hours. This is what I surmise :
Does this signify the death of the purchase funnel? It’s an evolution that reveals to business that the consumer purchase journey is dynamic. Information can come from anywhere, controlled and dictated entirely by the consumer. But the paths, while not always predictable, can carry significant weight based on past behavior.
Behavior implies affinity. Affinity signifies propensity. Unlike the limited data access to previously, a plethora of data sources today can leverage behavior from transactions, social media, the web, from mobile, and brand interactions to determine customer-defined value.
Christopher Penn remarked on traditional metrics that have proven flawed and have obscured attribution metrics. He counsels to focus on the down funnel:
Look inside your CRM. How many customers had Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn somewhere in their attribution history? How many customers interact with you on social media now? Focus your social media marketing and measurement efforts on the most valuable members of your audience, either to convert them or retain them…what you must do is determine which ones drive the outcomes your business needs.
Become Customer-Obsessed more than ever
I envisioned a time when the value for a customer could be redefined to truly include the needs of the customer – where search attempts to do this, social data can truly enhance this. Imagine marrying the transaction with the social information to not only understand the customer (profile) but perpetually stay on top of their life — the life they choose to share online.
TRUE Direct Marketing and Customer Centricity practices were able to develop half the picture based on the data available. NOW developing a more holistic picture of customer is possible. How people behave, together with what they purchase, provide significant understanding about them, their affinities and what they value. These propensities surface meaningful insight to the business. By analyzing these contextual moments, across time and device, we can uncover patterns of behavior and intent that can be mapped to a business opportunity in near real time.
Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group, wrote this post recently, “How Customer Profiles can boost your marketing success. He writes:
Marketing has a memory loss problem… The challenge with many of today’s marketing technologies is that data stitching isn’t available or sophisticated enough to do it well… This “memory loss” in cross-device identity… prevents marketers from developing a deeper understanding of consumer behaviors and interactions to provide more relevant content and experiences that engage and convert.
Where the campaign message changes so we KNOW the right time when our product fits with our customer is HOW we should be selling today. When I read what Michael had written, it clearly was in line my current thinking:
…Marketers need to find a customer data platform that, at the very minimum, can achieve both accuracy and scale in data collection and analysis, while adhering to privacy requirements, across all consumer devices and digital channels.
These customer insights are the foundation needed to create a single, holistic view of the consumer’s behaviors, interactions and preferences across all touch points, devices and channels, enabling a brand to deliver highly relevant content and experience that engages consumers and converts.
In a recent post, McKinsey’s Digital Personalization at Scale proposed this:
While many companies have been able to personalize with a few product lines or segments, most still struggle to scale across all the ways they engage with customers. And although technology has an important role to play, in our experience, most companies already have plenty of tools. The real challenge is to transform the marketing organization’s processes and practices to achieve the full potential of personalization.
The full potential for customer individualization can be achieved and it does not mean eliminating tools or dismantling infrastructures that have led business to this point. It does, however, require a mindset shift that allows business to leverage their existing systems, stitch the data silos together, to enable a single view of the customer in near-time. Yes, this is possible today!
In addition, transforming the organization goes beyond the marketing function and means creating a culture of incessant listening and engagement. AI and Machine Learning allows much quicker learning and optimization of trigger events that will drive understanding and performance much sooner.
Perhaps CAMPAIGNS need to make way for PERPETUAL and RELEVANT ENGAGEMENT
In retrospect, today’s targeting principles still aggregate to “visible” traits and behaviors. Considering how much we’ve evolved in marketing technology, we’ve remained stagnant in truly understanding customer.
Every customer need is different and it presents itself in its own time – and it is dictated at the whim of the customer not necessarily in the life cycle that the business has long ago modelled.
More importantly these needs can be surfaced by analyzing millions of data points and finding patterns that drive more confidence over time.
Getting it “sort of right” does not guarantee someone will buy because the marketer has made inferences based on business-defined models.
But if you knew right now that the triggers or patterns that drive customer interest to purchase, what would you do? How would you change your approach? Would you reach out and engage him or her in some way?
Micro-moments happen all the time, every second and they continue to define consumer interest and propensities. More importantly, they can aggregate to define clusters and behavioral indexes overtime. And business now has access to this information to better inform their strategies.
But business has yet to capture it.
So today, because of technology and people’s willingness to share more about their lives – the time relevance, and more importantly, the business relevance become intertwined… and much more enticing to the business.
Today we don’t have to guess, but we can learn.
Customers are telling the brands things, exposing moments important to them. The business just needs to connect the dots and begin to build their story that aligns with the customer’s decision journey. These journeys are not static; they continue to change. The business has the ability to keep up and build and maintain relevance today.
Customers don’t respond to ads as much as they’ve done in the past. They are carving out their own journeys, consuming information from people and places they get value. BUT with each mark they make on the world (through data compiled in transactions, the web, and through social networks), they also make insinuations, whether intended or not, about the things they need and value.
And it’s this opportunity that gives business greater leverage to build better connections with their customers.
This post originated from Marketing Insider Group
Founder at ArCompany, and Co-founder of Salsa AI, Hessie is a seasoned digital strategist, and intelligence analyst having held senior positions for top ad agencies including Ogilvy, Rapp Collins, ONE and Isobar Digital. She also has extensive start-up experience in social tech, online publishing and artificial intelligence like Yahoo! Answers, Overlay.TV, Jugnoo and Cerebri AI. Hessie is the co-author of EVOLVE: Marketing (as we know it) is Doomed! She is also an active writer for Cognitive World, Towards Data Science and Marketing Insider Group.