There is a big shift in the nature of digital marketing from focusing on push campaigns—pushing offers to a defined set of people—to a much more dynamic model where companies are responding to cues from customers by drawing on pools of hundreds of possible offers or messages, targeting many more people individually. Every contact presents the latest sense of the next best action to take, continuously optimized over time. I emphasized that companies need to think in terms of getting customers to the next stage of the decision journey, but what the right cues are, the right content, and the right channel will constantly evolve based on the latest information you have about your target audience.
The journey that results from experience quality and content relevance you deliver is an important influence on the perception of the brand itself. In work we’ve done with clients when they’ve gotten this relevance/quality equation right, we’ve seen a 4x improvement in conversion rates.
This approach works well in almost any sector. In retail, companies are using NFC and RFID technologies to connect with shoppers on their mobile phones when they enter a store. That contact can help stores understand where the shopper is on his/her decision journey, and then serve relevant content to them. In health care, data is going to explode and allow companies to provide contextual prompts not just to sell things but to help with compliance. For public services and utilities, we’re already seeing things like NEST that help users manage their energy use and, at the same time, provide data that can help companies understand how better to serve their customers. In all of these cases, data informs the strategy for designing the journey. And then there is a significant operations component to deliver the offers and products to individuals at scale.
Testing is critical. The more tests you have, the more you’ll be able to grow. For almost any initiative today, you have to focus on a pilot where you can isolate a particular segment, e.g. people who are well engaged with you already. Then you identify their different needs, design corresponding offers, deliver them in various ways and then track how well they perform. Then, you take that input and start all over again. It’s a highly rapid and iterative process. For many companies today, it’s a new muscle that they need to develop.