Our economy and society rely heavily on the digital ecosystem. Think about it: Major cable providers and TV networks splintered into dozens of streaming services and video-on-demand platforms. News consumption shifted from newspapers and magazines to online blogs and social media. Notable retail chains and brick-and-mortar stores have been squeezed by online vendors and massive hybrid retailers.
But the digital movement has impacted our society beyond some of our institutional and cultural gatekeepers. We’ve also seen a complete overhaul of how people consume information, research products and services and interact with brands. There are countless media channels, a plethora of online user reviews, myriad online product guides and endless advertisements that can inform a purchase decision.
In the past, brands could rely on traditional advertising strategies such as prime time TV commercials to connect with audiences. This connection is what helps messages resonate with the consumer and form lifelong relationships. But with so many digital touch points, the connection that traditional advertising strategies provided in the past has become endangered. The single-channel, general audience mindset is no longer effective. The average person’s attention span has been spread out across their TV, tablet and smartphone, among other devices. Not to mention, traditional advertising strategies do not guarantee the intended audience views the ad.
Today, most potential customers carry mobile devices with them at all times. We’re constantly switching back and forth between social media, emails and phone calls, and we hardly give any of them enough attention to deliver a sustainable message. People are inundated with mass marketing messages that are often irrelevant. But consumers will pay more attention to something that stands out and speaks to them. Only then will brands have their attention.
If brands want to reach their ideal customers, they need to keep consumers at the heart of their marketing strategies. That means leveraging advanced data and innovative technology to identify and build audience segments, develop relevant messages, reach audiences through the most appropriate channels and measure campaigns for future optimization.
Identity is the foundation of every customer interaction -- this includes data-driven advertising. Brands need to understand more than basic demographic information about their target audience. By connecting first-, second- and third-party data in a responsible and privacy-compliant manner, brands can answer questions such as:
- What are my customers’ purchase behaviors?
- Do they prefer video or textual messaging?
- When is the best time to reach them? On what devices and channels?
- What interests them?
Each of these components gives a brand a glimpse into its pool of customers. From there, marketers can build custom audience segments based on the ideal customer for a product or service. Beyond audience segmentation, brands have the insight to uncover the most appropriate communication channels, develop messages more likely to resonate and identify the best times to reach prospective customers. The combination of all this leads to a more meaningful interaction, which leads to a more powerful customer experience. And a powerful customer experience can result in brand loyalty that lasts a lifetime.
But data is only half the battle. Brands still need to activate their campaigns. Marketers need to move beyond the single-channel mindset and implement true omnichannel campaigns. For instance, a connected TV campaign can help an automaker reach its intended audiences, wherever they are, by reaching relevant viewers on streaming devices. Marketers can then take the same audiences and deliver a complementary message via social media or email.
Finally, the upfront legwork to identify and build appropriate audiences opens the door for brands to evaluate the effectiveness of their ad campaigns -- they can cross-reference purchase data with campaign exposure data. This allows them to determine online and offline sales effectiveness and, more importantly, understand which campaign elements worked and optimize future campaigns -- all with the consumer in mind.
While the approach may seem like a 180-degree shift from traditional advertising strategies, it’s merely a change in mindset and a commitment to advanced data and innovative technology. The more brands learn about and understand their audiences, the better positioned they will be to provide a positive customer experience, reduce wasted ad spend and create more impactful marketing campaigns.