What's necessary for the future of customer marketing

At the recent keynote for MIPTV 2014, YouTube's head of entertainment Alex Carloss outlined his perception of media production for modern customers, "An audience tunes in when they're told to, a fan base chooses when and what to watch. An audience changes the channel when their show is over. A fan base shares, comments, curates, creates."

What's compelling to me about this perspective is that the basic thesis applies not only to viewers of entertainment media, but also consumers of brand marketing content. Previously, marketers could get by treating their customers as an audience, using volume-based spray-and-pray tactics to convert sales.

However, with the advent of mobile and social, marketing tactics have to evolve. Infosys found that 78 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a retailer that provides targeted offers and 71 percent are more likely to repeat purchase if they receive ongoing offers based on location. Succinctly, customers seek out personalized content and brands leave money on the table when they do not engage customers throughout the purchasing lifecycle. The future of customer marketing requires that brands develop an engaged following, not a passive audience.

To create this engaged following (a customer fan base, if you will) marketers need customers to both consume and take action from brand content. Fortunately, mobile messaging -- a ubiquitous and interactive platform -- serves as the ideal media through which to accomplish both objectives. The utilization of digital marketing channels with high open and response rates are integral to brand success.

With that in mind, take a look at how these two KPIs measure up across various digital outreach:

Open rates

Response rates

Looking at the data, a rigid apples to apples comparison remains difficult. Digital channels are unique enough that choosing between one versus another produces little insight. Ultimately, customers are using a variety of channels and marketers should follow suit. To do so, customer data has to become the center of a marketing and communication strategy. With the importance of personalization and targeting, data from social should inform mobile and email, vice versa, and everything in between.

That said, some general insights emerge from the open and response rate data above. Social outreach takes place in a public forum. A brand sends a message to a platform from which customers consume content. With mobile and email, customers individually access content at their personal address. This direct type of outreach yields higher open and response rates. Though perhaps overshadowed by the social nature of, well, social, mobile and email possess a singular ability to pique customers' attention and incite them to action. This makes them integral to creating an engaged customer fan base that consumes and responds to content.

To understand mobile and email's superior ability to impact customers as engaged fans, instead of a passive audience, consider the nature of customer data for social, mobile, and email. With social platforms, brands do not own any of their data. Facebook and Twitter do. These companies are money making advertising vehicles that will require brands to pay in some way for content delivery. Conversely, brands own all the data stored and created by mobile and email marketing. These direct marketing channels serve as brands' proprietary customer networks from which they can extract insights and personalize content.

To reiterate, marketers need to create a community of brand advocates in the modern economy, as connected customers' demand personalized content that will render audience blasting irrelevant. To create this community, or fanbase, brands need to develop a communication strategy across channels to get in front of as many eyeballs as possible -- especially given the data benefits of marketing across the digital ecosystem. However, a key facet of this cross-channel strategy has to be mobile and email. They are channels designed for personalized content in the age of personalization. Just check the open and response rates.

Kane Russell is VP of marketing at Waterfall International.

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