If You Struggle to Be Relevant Today, What About Tomorrow?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

There’s an ongoing, symbiotic evolution of both consumer technology and consumer expectations that leaves marketers struggling to keep up. Adding to the challenge, the ways marketers have responded—by accumulating marketing point solutions—creates silos of customer data that solve portions of the problem while decreasing flexibility, greatly increasing the cost of doing business and, ultimately, making relevance an increasing challenge. What’s worse, many brands have a poor prognosis for keeping up with accelerating change. If this sounds familiar, don’t feel too lonely—you’re in great company.

So ask yourself, if you struggle to be relevant today, what will you do to be relevant to your customers tomorrow?

Digital Marketing Enters More Challenging Territory

Tomorrow will certainly be more challenging than today. Driven by consumers who are beginning to realize their own power, there are four specific trends that will stress marketing and even behind-the-scenes systems in new ways:

  1. Now. Consumers will want to interact anywhere and at any time. This has been said in the past but has been outlier behavior for the most part. The mainstream consumer is about to become the now consumer on mobile devices and also everywhere else they interact.
  2. Can I? Consumers will want truly new and valuable capabilities across a wide spectrum of information, to include diverse things like their financial services accounts and data being generated by physical activities. They’ll want to link information in ways that may be common to a group or unique to an individual. The more times the questions can be answered with “Yes, you can,” the better.
  3. For me. Consumers will expect the data that they’ve given up or created to be put to use wisely and in highly targeted ways. Giving up personal data will need to be a means to greater personalization, or it will be seen as increasingly invasive and unwanted.
  4. Simply. Interaction will be expected to be dead easy. As the mainstream takes the handoff from the early adopters, the number of consumers expecting simple, easy ways to interact will skyrocket.
There are signs of each of these in the market, but the combination of all four will push current systems and architectures to the breaking point.

Breaking the Vicious Cycle

While these challenges are daunting for many based on where they are today, it doesn’t have to be this way for you. There are four key ways to break the potentially vicious cycle of increasing consumer demand and increasing information complexity.

  1. Stop making the problem worse. Adding more point solutions to a silo’d environment is no solution at all. Step back and take stock of where you are and how you can simplify instead of digging the hole even deeper.
  2. Increase collaboration across business functions. Each touchpoint with the consumer offers a chance for increasing or decreasing relevance. By increasing collaboration, customer service, support, and other former silos can become a symbiotic, customer-serving machine.
  3. Start with the end in mind. Design thinking is a popular way to describe the process of taking a designer’s approach to understanding problems rather than tackling the challenge within the traditional engineering fashion. By starting with the end-goal of a simple, integrated, and collaborative platform, early decisions can be more simple than complex and more likely to anticipate and match consumer needs. Think of the end-user’s emotional perspective rather than simply what’s feasible through technology. Empathy, creativity, and rationality are the design thinker’s mantra.
  4. Make it highly personalized for every customer. Marketing is moving quickly toward individual-level personalization with all of the technology baggage that it requires.
  5. Predict what the customer wants. Nothing delights more than interaction that clearly shows that a brand is putting effort into anticipating your needs. More than personalization, this is the part where the consumer’s needs are known even before he expresses them.
  6. Reward loyalty. Once a brand can know its consumers, it can also differentiate those who come back time after time. Rewarding loyalty is table stakes in the struggle to be relevant.
  7. Do everything to create a seamless experience. This is the hardest, but most important, part. Regardless of what happens within the organization, the customer’s view needs to look unified and seamless. This requires a high level of integration and tools that monitor and respond, whenever and wherever needed.
If you’re in the middle of a struggle to be relevant, that means your marketing is facing the right problem. Getting there and staying there is going to require major focus on the factors described here. To learn more about how to be relevant today and into the future, check out the whitepaper, Marketing Transformed: Big Data Analytics and the Revolution of Customer Engagement and Experience Management.

How Relevant Is Your Marketing and How Do You Know?

By Jeanne Roué-Taylor

By definition, for something to be relevant, it needs to be important to the matter at hand. For marketing, the matter at hand was once simply reaching the public’s consciousness through mass media with hopes that your product would be remembered at buying time. Being relevant today, however, is another matter entirely. Today’s consumer has a shorter attention span and is living in a noisier world. Today’s marketer needs to tunnel through the noise and meet customer expectations in ways that are completely tied to customers’ “matter at hand”—their preferences, history with the brand, and current context.

The Matter At Hand

For a marketer, knowing a customer’s preference, history, and current context isn’t a simple matter. It requires a platform that brings together the right information quickly enough to engage the customer in the moments that matter.

That information includes:

Transactional data – Knowing what your customer has done before is a head start to being relevant today. It’s not just about purchases—transactional data includes all interactions with the customer, including inquiries, returns, product reviews, and more.

Online data – Knowing how your customer has surfed your sites, both web and mobile, will tell you which pages or products have receive the most attention.

Social data – Getting your customers to engage socially provides a rich look into their interests, travel, and other information that supports relevant messaging.

Location data – Perhaps the most relevant data of all, a customer’s location allows a brand to reach out at moments that are fleeting, like proximity to a store.

These pieces of information, together, feed an ability to determine when and where a customer is most likely to respond positively to a message. Every communication needs to be relevant and should feel more like a service than a marketing push. A customer that finds a brand relevant feels served with useful and meaningful information rather than noise and pressure.

Customers are increasingly able to filter out noise and irrelevant information. This is a critically important concept and core to relevance. Focusing on this gives brands an ability to separate themselves from the crowd and be more effective marketers. These efforts feel like special treatment rather than promotion and allow customers to feel comfortable providing more information about themselves. When your customers feel like your marketing is a service, you know you’ve reached the point of relevance.