“Always-on” marketing, customer experience and interpreting the digital body language

For the last two years, marketers have made a lot of noise about “journeys”. By journeys, we mean the process of moving from tactical random activities to one which is based on logical order, a bit like a conversation.

But just as we get our head around marketing journeys, so it seems the marketing world is beginning to evolve from a focus on journeys to a focus on experience, customer and prospect experience.

While email platforms can measure clicks, open rates and sends – all admirable transactions – they can’t link activity and output to outcomes and business success. Further, if the buying cycle is exponentially longer than the sales and marketing process then it leaves a lot to chance, over-burdening the sales function with the nurturing responsibility too early.

This is why Marketing Automation (MA) is so integral. Though it can sometimes be more about customer engagement than it is automation, this is starting to change as platforms become more advanced and marketers grow increasingly ambitious in their process design.

The multi-functional capabilities of MA mean a few big things for marketers. Firstly, campaigns can be built further down into the funnel or the journey. Platforms like Eloqua have always had advanced workflow and frameworks designs, but platforms like Pardot are catching up fast, and increasing their automation workflow capability at a rate of knots. These multi-touch campaigns provide the benefit of content focus and conversions in a logical and coherent order, and also work to support the clients.

Client support is particularly important given that the oft-quoted Google statistic, that 57% of the buying journey happens before a customer talks to a salesperson, is now being out competed by other consulting firms. Gartner, for instance, thinks that this buyer self-education will rise as high as 80% in the next few years. In a world where we have the desire, and are trusted to self-scan our own shopping, surely we should expect the same autonomy when we browse online?

Fortunately, brands are beginning to learn this, and are realising that the digital experience is as much a reflection of the brand as the physical experience itself. It’s also the reason that, for the first time, a lot of B2Cs are now having to play catch up with B2Bs, and we’re starting to see the conversation evolve from customer journey to customer experience.

What is ‘always on’ and why is it so powerful?

Clients in 2015 have a new set of needs; they’re self-sufficient, and want to be able to access content on the platform of their own choice, including omni-channel iPad, web and mobile. They also want personalised content, and to be able to pick up where they left off – their experience should be relevant, defined by themselves, and at their own pace. Clients will only want to share insight when that right has been earned and reputation cemented, and they want to be helped and educated – not sold to. Essentially, marketers need to obey the rule of reciprocity here, and think like a customer. Patience is key – only when the right is earned will insight be openly shared back, and you’ll be rewarded for not selling too early.

To cater for this requirement, brands need to start delivering the concept of ‘always on’ frameworks, digital (and physical) journeys that can be user defined, variable speed and personalised. Ultimately, the digital experience needs to mesh with and match the physical experience. A lot of insight is available to marketers in order to achieve this, but it’s the ability to turn this into actionable insight which has, until now, been the challenge. With the evolution of MA, however, this is starting to change- and fast.

MA is almost unique in giving vendors and users the ability to track digital behaviours in the same was as behaviours are understood in a physical meeting. The great thing about the digital self-sufficiency we are currently experiencing is that it leaves a digital trail of thinking and intentions, or what Steve Woods, former cofounder of Eloqua, calls “Digital Body Language” in his eponymous book. The subtle insight and digital experiences of all the collective touchpoints during independent browsing and learning can be collated and scored, helping replace the direct feedback that’s lost, and allowing sales models to be tightened up and redefined accordingly.

These new technologies are incredibly powerful, and are reinventing businesses. To survive, marketers need to embrace these new developments rather than running from them – after all, if a hotel or taxi industry can be disrupted, it’s only a matter of time before yours is disrupted too. The companies that capitalise on the digital opportunity today will be the ones that succeed in the future. The ones that don’t will be lucky to survive.

Download: The Customer Experience Blueprint

cx-report-front This report looks at how businesses are keeping pace with rising customer expectations and the pressure it puts them under. To help make sense of these challenges we have worked with digital service design agency Friday, using the structure of their digital maturity model to assess how marketers and customer service professionals are responding to these pressures. The report summarises the findings of the survey and highlights some recommended actions for organisations seeking to reinvent their customer experience - and reinvent themselves in order to deliver it. Download the report for free today.
Adam Sharp

Adam Sharp

Managing Director, CleverTouchMarketing

Adam Sharp is Managing Director and founder of CleverTouchMarketing, the UK’s largest independent Marketing Automation Consultancy and himself a former Marketing Director.

In a series of blog posts he will talk about the role of technology in marketing today and why it is evolving from a peripheral purchase and tactical to a strategic decision central to every business.

November 30, 2015

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