Understanding always-on marketing
We all know that consumers hold the power. They are heavily influenced by social media, word of mouth and online reviews. They can research, compare and purchase products at any time of the day or night. And they expect on-demand, personalised service.
To complicate matters even further, as my colleague David Butt reminded us in his article, Customer Journey 101, consumers often make purchasing decisions instinctively. This makes it hard to create accurate customer journey maps or to predict buyer behaviour.
As a result, consumer organisations and their marketing teams are struggling to create the “always-on” customer experiences they need to produce if they are to grow and retain their customer base. The world is changing faster than they can keep up.
Fortunately, these organisations have access to one very powerful resource: a tremendous amount of data. Mining this data is the key to creating a successful always-on marketing capability.
What is always-on marketing?
Always-on marketing is pulled rather than pushed, so it is important to listen to and understand customer signals. It is not about spamming your customers with excessive e-mails and digital ads, and hoping for a response.
It also means being responsive and able to take advantage of what’s happening in the world no matter when it happens. Predicting what your customers want before they even know they want it, and being able to turn that information into opportunities for your customers to more easily engage with your brand, products and services.
A hypothetical example
Let’s take a moment to put this theory into practice using a hypothetical organisation. There are many types of organisation we could use, but I particularly like what’s happening in the video and music streaming industry, so I’ll use a global music streaming provider as an example.
Let’s assume that this company has a very successful freemium model which has attracted millions of subscribers. We’ll also assume that the company has realised the value of attaining, retaining and engaging with these freemium listeners and wants to create an always-on marketing machine.
In order to do this, the company needs to: understand listener behaviour by identifying key signals and use this behaviour to segment audiences; translate these signals into actionable insights about each audience; and influence these audiences by creating relevant, tailored and timely customer experiences.
Important consumer behaviours and signals may include things like how frequently or continuously the user listens (and how this is changing over time); what they listen to; how, where and when they listen; and what service features they engage with.
Combining these signals will enable the team to understand and segment various subscriber groups.
For example, if you were to rank listeners by engagement, then time of day, then genre of music, you could create a series of highly tailored, creative messages that encourage them to increase their use of the service.
The big take-out
As consumers move to an always-on world, it’s time for brands to learn how to communicate in this new world.
The role of marketing tech
When you truly put customers at the centre of your marketing efforts, you’ll find that they shape not just your communications, but your entire technology stack. You cannot build tailored, always-on customer experiences if your social, e-mail, mobile and other platforms are in silos. You need to be able to tune into signals from all channels and touchpoints, and you need to be able to respond across all channels and touchpoints.
As Mayur Gupta, VP of global growth, innovation and marketing at Spotify, put it: “Currently many marketers are looking at their marketing tech as spare parts rather than one cohesive whole. E-mail, social, mobile and e-commerce should not be seen as silos but should interact as part of the marketing whole. If they are not assembled correctly, you can’t apply them properly to meet a human need.”
From theory to practice
How do you create an always-on marketing machine?
Start by ensuring that you focus on the right data. I recommend working with an agency or employing a data scientist to help you identify patterns and trends in your data. This, combined with context, will help you work out which behaviour signals to focus on.
Once you understand and track the important consumer signals, you can begin to use them to create detailed customer journey maps and define triggers for tailored messaging frameworks. As you identify and add new signals, you will be able to segment your audience even further and create increasingly tailored messaging.
Measurement and reporting are key. You’ll want to build and extend reporting dashboards to give you both a strategic view of brand reputation, user growth and value, and how your messaging frameworks are contributing to those. Your reporting should ensure that marketing performance remains aligned to business goals, and provides visibility into segments and journeys that enable you to take action when needed.
Always-on marketing requires a fundamental shift in thinking, but it isn’t a short-term trend. It’s an evolution of marketing that matches the evolution of man. As consumers, we live in an always-on world. It’s time for companies to learn how to communicate in this new world.
• Tony Weber is the principal consultant at Acceleration