Stephen McNulty, Managing Director Asia-Pacific and Japan at Progress, discusses the importance of gaining a comprehensive view of each customer’s journey and following a targeted approach based on the insights.
There are many challenges facing today’s marketers: pressure for growth, ever-growing marketplace competition and ‘always-on’ expectations from both customers and employers. According to a Forrester estimate, 57 percent of businesses across Asia Pacific are experiencing rising customer demands in this digital age. The mounting pressure to prove and improve marketing return on investment (ROI) adds yet another significant burden. Meanwhile, rules of business continue to shift underfoot and change the playing field in which marketers operate. Thanks to modern technology giving us instant access to many sources of information, the way consumers are engaging with brands has changed. Customer decision-making changes according to the engagement channel and customers are better informed than ever before. Often they make buying decisions long before the first contact with a sales representative or stepping into a store. As such, there is a need for marketing and sales teams to adjust to these new customer behaviours.
Successful marketing in this new environment begins with objectives based on accurate insight into the customer journey. According to Forrester, in Asia Pacific, “businesses increasingly recognize that success will hinge on their ability to close the gap between available data and actionable insight”1. These insights will enable marketers to build customer personas, improve engagement tactics, leverage metrics, create targeted messaging, adjust the marketing mix and craft plans to drive future growth. However, exploding volumes of data and siloed systems can often stand in the way. Multiple marketing channels are proving a double-edged sword: on the one hand they give marketers greater reach, yet on the other they make it much harder to track and measure potential customers.
Working with only a fragmented customer view weakens digital marketing efforts. To gain a single customer view – as quickly as possible – marketers need tools that compile data from all marketing, sales and customer information channels and systems, including data from real-time known and unknown customer interactions. Organisations need a way to integrate data siloes to gain a comprehensive view of each individual’s customer journey, and discern trends that can be affected by marketing programs and campaigns.
Managing data assets
Developing a marketing plan which truly complements the new digital consumer-driven buying journey, combined with more traditional offline activities isn’t a simple task.
On-and-offline engagement data sets – click through rates (CTRs), data from CRMs, and social analytics – are too-often siloed and stored in different systems and formats. Data derived from emerging technologies such as smart sensors, connected devices and social channels only adds to the pile-up.
Manually completing the time-intensive task of unifying siloed data, often across multiple spread sheets, risks static data becoming obsolete.
Marketing automation tools offer a far more efficient solution for pinpointing and engaging with the customer, leveraging available demographic data. Some even provide suggested execution tactics and a 360 degree view into the customer journey. Authenticated contacts – those that have provided their details when downloading whitepapers or attending events – are essential for marketing automation tools to run effectively. However, in most organisations authenticated contacts represent just 2-3% of all recorded interactions. Leaving masses of data ‘loose’ in the cloud means potential customers remain anonymous, and this limits the ability of marketing programs to drive those contacts towards meaningful conversions.
To compile and analyse data from customer touch points across multiple channels – CRM, direct marketing or social media engagement, from initial contact to long term customer, marketers should make the most of the latest technologies. For example, some tools provide a central repository of individual customer interactions, and integratewith third-party sources todraw data from key systems. They can collate anonymous user profile information, assigning each a persona based upon tracked behaviour.
These same leading technologies also leverage machine learning to relate how groups of customers and prospects interact through different channels. They provide conversion recommendation ranking, tracking and personalization of mobile apps for efficient real-time marketing as well as more tracking control for site administrators, amongst other benefits.
A targeted approach
An effective marketer will always keep on top of the latest technology. If this seems a low priority to others, they must take note that in today’s digital world the relationship between salesperson and customer is increasingly detached, and the constant flow of new data means the customer journey is ever-evolving. The right technology plays a vital role in arming marketers with essential insight, as well as offering cost and time-savings in the longer-term. Marketers can only map and react to the shifting customer journey appropriately, and prove the direct relationship between marketing investment and results, if they broaden their reach whilst improving the effective targeting of both anonymous and known individuals.