Customers now interact with brands across a more diverse set of channels than ever before, whether that be social media platforms, email newsletters, programmatic video, point of sale (POS) and more. This means that marketers have their work cut out for them in terms of ensuring relevance. Their day jobs are no longer about simply serving ads to consumers — they now need to deliver consistent, contextually smart messaging across multiple channels to ensure that their message triggers the appropriate action. The truth is, this is rarely the case.

Multi-channel marketing is a conundrum for businesses. Consumers are perhaps more savvy to a marketer’s techniques than ever before; they are in control of their customer journey - driving it in whichever direction fits their needs and they aren’t scared to jump ship if these needs aren’t met. Because of this, consumers find themselves growing increasingly frustrated by experiences that are disjointed, impersonal and ineffective.

To turn this situation around, digital marketers need to anticipate their customer’s needs by adopting a more sophisticated approach to managing and activating data. This can help to transform isolated marketing campaigns into always-on journey orchestration, which puts personalisation at its core.

Getting personal

In the past, marketing communications would consist of something as scatter-gun as a single email that was sent out to your entire customer base, in the hope that a small percentage of that audience would click through to the offer or web-page that’s being promoted. But this grew increasingly ineffective: they would either get stuck in aggressive spam filters or irritate those customers who are looking to receive relevant messages they want to hear at the right times.

Marketing departments need to abandon the historic one-to-many approach, and instead focus on one-to-one personalised customer journeys across all touch-points, both on and offline. Not only does it help to generate long-lasting relationships when implemented and orchestrated properly, but it can be an extremely effective way of acquiring meaningful customer data that can be used later to further personalise individual customer journeys throughout the lifecycle of your customers.

Using resources effectively

Various technologies can be used to further enhance the way customers receive communications and dialogues, and to emulate the type of personalised merchant/customer conversation that could only have previously occurred in the offline world. For example, let’s say that a customer searches for flights to Barcelona using a search engine or price comparison site, and they land on an airline’s website but eventually abandon the booking. Once this action has been made, the customer is classified by the airline’s DMP as having a ‘high intent to book’, and are then re-targeted with display advertisements for a Barcelona flight offer. Driven by this, they then make the purchase.

Let’s then say that the airline has connected their CRM and owned channels with an instant Messenger app through rules set up in the DMP, and that they know this customer is going away for a week and has asked for chat updates. A week before the flight, the airline can send the boarding pass via the messenger app and also deliver an upsell product message to add checked baggage, which he’d almost definitely need for a week-long trip. It’s a friendly reminder for the customer, and a sophisticated upsell for the airline, which incorporates multiple channels to deliver added value to the customer experience, from initial purchase to upsell to (hopefully) continued loyalty.

Right time, right place

The overarching goal should be to ensure that each customer’s journey is cohesive and consistent across all channels. Whether marketers are trying to acquire new customers or maintain relevancy with existing ones, they can better their chance of success by using a centralised data management platform (DMP). The most effective DMPs are agile and easy to set up, while boasting sophisticated customer journey orchestration and complete flexibility in terms of the business systems and customer channels they connect with. This means the platform can be tweaked in real-time with specific business goals, and then used to anticipate the marketing journeys that customers are looking for – no matter how niche the demographic – which include the right messages at the right time.

DMPs which adopt this ‘flexible-by-design’ approach have already proved to be effective in meeting marketers’ existing goals. But perhaps the most valuable trait of DMPs is their compatibility with future channels and current/future platforms. For example, DMPs can work with emerging trends such as beacon technology in sprawling shopping malls and airports, to allow brands to send consumers push notifications with relevant offers on their smartphones when they are close by. It is unlikely that many would take advantage of an offer for a free coffee when they are sat on their sofa, but send it to them while they’re sat waiting for a flight at the airport, and the likelihood of them making use of that offer increases significantly. This shows us the value of context, and in turn, the value of DMP technology.

Conclusion

In a digital landscape that is home to more channels than ever before – and is only set to expand further over time – businesses face a significant challenge when it comes to achieving a successful, future-proof marketing strategy amidst the ever-shifting wave of technology. Marketers ultimately require a plug-and-play DMP that serves as a centralised journey orchestration platform. By delivering effective and personalised customer journeys, digital marketers can continue to thrive for years to come.

 

By Anoma Van Eeden, chief marketing officer at Relay42


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