Have you ever run into someone you have spoken to several times, and that person doesn't remember your name or what you talked about? How often do you have a similar experience with companies? You follow up on a complaint or a billing issue, and you have to start over with each service rep you talk to? It is annoying for sure, and most of the time the poor experience leaves you thinking less of the person or company.
Online marketers routinely commit similar sins that frustrate consumers, miss opportunities, and damage their brands. How often do you go to a website that you have interacted with, only to find that it has amnesia? It's even worse when it pretends to know you, but doesn't really: "Welcome back, John" offers the promise of enhanced service or value, so it's all the more disappointing when the greeting is the only personalized content displayed.
And isn't it wonderful when you see a company's juicy new offer in online ads or on the website, but you just signed up for a less attractive deal? Or you click on a paid search ad that doesn't have the decency to take you to a dedicated landing page, and leaves you to find your way from the homepage?
Marketers can't keep settling for this kind of mediocrity. There's simply no reason for any consumer to experience "message cacophony" today, and there is no reason for marketers to denigrate their brands through poor management of cross-channel communications.
Let's take a look at what the digital channels look like in isolation:
- While search is one-to-one marketing based on a user's intent, it only reflects demand -- it does not create it.
- Yes, display media is an important part of the mix -- but it's limited by the communication value of its creative format.
- Audience-based targeting with DSPs is a useful tactic, but it doesn't scale.
- Email can be highly effective, but it's usually off on its own and disconnected from everything else.
- Your website may have sizzle and flash, but at best it puts the burden on the consumer to find relevant content.
- And your Facebook page? No matter how many "likes" you get, it's still only a tiny sliver of your consumer base.
Don't fool yourself. No matter how useful on their own, even loosely connected tactics will not get the job done in 2011 and beyond. You need to start harmonizing these puzzle pieces into a coherent whole.
These disparate channels can be connected and coordinated by leveraging data and new decision technology that can make detailed one-to-one content and offer decisions in real time. True, the technology is just part of the solution; it takes a lot of planning and coordination to align the organization around customer segment rules and offers. But such a coordinated, integrated process is worth it because across every industry, we are finding a new type of uber-connected consumer who expects a personalized, interactive experience with brands. This consumer wants anywhere-anytime access to product or service information, and he wants it to be consistent and available over the web, mobile phone, email, or offline channels.
To meet this need -- and to win the hearts and minds of these consumers -- marketers need to begin building integrated capabilities today. Some companies are already making the investments needed to offer real-time communications, offers, and services across all channels and touch points. And while it will surely take some time to build the organizational competencies and processes to consistently deliver for consumers, they are already opening a lead on slower-moving competitors.