The new digital marketing playbook: Omnichannel, real time, and individualized
The breathtaking pace of change in digital marketing technology and tactics challenges even the most experienced practitioners to keep up. New devices, keywords, promises, and solutions emerge one after another in rapid succession. Channels and experiences coalesce, and customer expectations rise ever higher.
Amidst this lightning fast change, marketers must also struggle with the endless churn of data that threatens to drown out valuable communications as customers grow impatient and sales stagnate.
The old marketing mix no longer suffices. It’s time to embrace the new big three of data-driven digital marketing: omnichannel reach, real-time engagement, and individualized experiences.
In practice, the cookie-cutter customer journey no longer exists. In its place we find a constant shifting trajectory across paths, channels, and touchpoints driven by customers who seem able to navigate it all with ease and agility.
Meanwhile, brands are expected to keep up by orchestrating experiences that are always seamless and frictionless regardless of where the individual customer decides to go or what they choose to do once they get there.
Omnichannel marketing, however, doesn’t mean being everywhere at once. It’s a much more expansive undertaking. Here are three tactics that may expedite this transition.
1. Identify and invest in channels favored by customers. Before developing cross-channel communications, it will help to research competitors’ channel-specific and overall content strategies to find better ways to appeal to your audiences.
2. There is a varied, and at times dauntingly vast, collection of data available today, and customers’ digital identities are always multiplying, becoming scattered and lost in the maze of channels.
It should be a strategic priority, then, for brands to consolidate all their data sources and types—from device IDs, geographic information, and transactional records to sentiments, propensities, and 3rd party data—to achieve a unified view of the customer.
3. Audience journeys should be designed so that they can address existing pain points and deliver relevant communications via the right channels. Ensure that digital engagement can enrich and inform offline interactions—and vice versa—guiding customers towards deeper engagement, conversion, and beyond.
However intricately arranged, the omnichannel customer journey is nothing if it cannot dynamically adapt to customer actions at just the right moment.
Real-time marketing entails adjusting customer journeys to critical audience actions at just the right time to maximize campaign results. Scheduling communications across channels while being on the alert for every possible audience response can be highly painstaking. Not only does it drain resources that can be better utilized for more advanced efforts, but brands could be at a competitive disadvantage—because more and more marketers, equipped with emerging marketing solutions, are already optimizing customer interactions in milliseconds.
But real time isn’t merely about speed. It’s a strategic shift. What real time means depends on the brand. The key to an effective real-time marketing strategy is the accurate identification of the most relevant scenarios and audience actions. These will help brands build precise business rules to trigger follow-up communications at the optimal moment. Content also needs to accommodate divergence across the various stages of the customer journey.
Marketing automation tools that coordinate the entire delivery process will produce the best results. The complexity of data-driven customer engagement today can be simplified by machine learning and AI marketing capabilities in place to offer intent-based responses, customize next-best offers, and re-map customer journeys.
Also key to real-time marketing is the precise tracking and monitoring of customer sentiments and brand conversations. Instead of manually filtering countless conversations on social media, a customized keyword and sentiment list for each campaign would be a superior alternative. This will ensure that complaints be addressed and user flows constantly improved across the duration of a campaign.
Whether it’s tapping into the power of big data, orchestrating omnichannel experiences, or pushing out best responses in real time, brands are just trying to engage the customer on an individual level—a familiar goal, but also the new horizon of customer engagement.
How do brands get there?
A first step would be to ensure they can identify, track, and progressively profile each contact across touchpoints. When Fred visits a brand’s e-store or clicks on their emails, he expects to be recognized. In addition to contextualizing every interaction based previous encounters, brands can deploy campaign rules to individualize Fred’s journey in real time.
And lastly, the degree of individualization customers now demand is impossible with just demographics. A bigger, more refined mix is called for—psychographic data, preferences, social laddering, p propensities, and more.
The pressure to keep up with customers is getting more intense by the day. Ever more tech-savvy, customers are also more inclined to embrace new channels like chatbots, smart speakers, and virtual reality devices. Brands have no choice but to innovate how they engage the individual customer, using all the data, relevant touchpoints, and suitable solutions available.