The Always-Connected Customer Has Killed Marketing, Finally


We knew it was bound to happen, the signs were all there.  It all started with customers taking control of their purchase experience.  They devised new ways to evaluate products, developed new shopping habits, eliminated traditional sources of information including the salesperson, and moved managing their personal lives (and work) to multiple mobile devices.  Experience outweighs price and features. Eliminating vendors long before they even knew a sales opportunity existed.

Marketing, as we know it, is dead.

The problem lies in that stalwart of demand generation called a ‘campaign’.  It has, for decades, forced sellers to think in terms of seven to twelve touch points across siloed interaction channels.  Each touch was based on a time- or waterfall-based schedule of activities with each call-to-action supposedly representing the next logical step for the buyer.  The copy was clever and pithy designed to intrigue, entertain or at a minimum shock the recipient into clicking on the link.

It is all dead.

According to a study Forrester conducted forResponsys  that was released today, “complex customer journeys replace linear campaigns as the new normal.”   When asked why Responsys commissioned this study, Scott Olrich, President of  Marketing and Platform shared, “We work with some of the world’s best brands and what we hear from them time and again is that one of their most significant challenges is how to coordinate and integrate their marketing efforts across channels and over time. So with this project with Forrester, we sought to uncover those specific challenges and provide recommendations for how to break down siloes.”

Attributed to the rapid adoption of mobile and other technologies, the number of always-connected, never-in-one-place customers, which Forrester refers to as the ‘always-addressable’ customer, will account for 50 percent of all online adults, worldwide, by the end of this year.   These buyers don’t follow a linear path in their vendor relationships but rather rapidly weave and bob their way through a deluge of electronic noise as they make daily purchase decisions, do research, manage personal transactions, and stay connected with brands and people that matter to them.

To successfully engage the always-addressable customer, marketers need to throw out campaigns and align directly to the experience each customer wants.  That means finding a way to understand, participate and bring value to the buyer’s messy weaving and bobbing.   Forrester calls the new way – marketing orchestration – and defines it as:

“An approach to marketing that focuses not on delivering standalone campaigns, but instead on optimizing a set of related cross-channel interactions that, when added together, make up an individualized customer experience.”

It means having the people, skills, knowledge, culture and agility supported by technology (notice, I listed it last) to capture and act in real-time on interactions customers are having in the market regardless of channel or device.  The focus is not on the ‘how’ and ‘where’ but on the ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘who’ and ‘why’.

Olrich shares, “The study shows there is a critical flaw in the way marketers organize and execute their marketing communications. Marketers need to shift their job focus from creating campaigns to creating unique interactions that together make up a differentiated customer experience.”

Marketers know that more predictable revenue will come if they build long-term personalized relationships based on value.  The path to get there, however, is not by doing more campaigns.  That knee jerk reaction will destroy your market credibility.  Instead invest in understanding your buyers – what they do, where they go, the experiences they value, the emotions they have at key transition points, and the devices they use. For the latter, I recommend Forrester’s June 27, 2013 report titled “Meet the Changing Needs of Connected Customers”

There are six components to Marketing Orchestration:

  1. Recognition of individuals and identities across channels by ‘establishing a single identity for customers that is valid across interactions and touch points’. If you want to align to your buyers’ journey, this “stitching” together of cross-device and channel identities is key.
  2. Real-time capture and management of interaction data by using cookies, email address, Twitter handles, mobile IDs, any data element you can get your hands on to associate the interactions, sessions and channels with each individual.
  3. Responsive customer journey design, testing and optimization that builds actionable customer journeys across any addressable channel. Once you have this you can now engage the buyer with relevant, valued, personalized content in real-time.
  4. Relationship-driven automated execution across channels that deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right physical-digital-social location where the buyer is in response to their actions.
  5. Rules-based predictive, next-best journey selection based on having “granular, customer-level interaction and behavioral data”.  That knowledge, which comes from internal systems as well as third-party data sources, is made actionable through automated triggers set up to respond to specific buyer actions.
  6. Responsible preferences and permissions management so that marketers can fine-tune their interactions to meet the customer’s expectations, expressed and implied, on frequency, type, channel and content.  That also means honoring the individual’s wishes; it’s a core component to building a trusted relationship.

Adopting the marketing orchestrated model will not happen overnight. Much like transforming into a customer-obsessed organization, which marketing orchestration is a core part of, will time (read: a few years).  Success comes to those marketers who are tenacious, have an appetite for experimentation, and proactively partner with customers on their transformative journey.

Forrester recommends a three-stage process to guide marketers on and to take the ‘scary’ out of the change they will be leading their organizations through:

  1. Single Channel Marketing Campaigns – You’re pretty much doing this today except segment customers as “groups of individuals” for each campaign.
  2. Single Channel Campaign Automation – Define campaigns to trigger based on specific actions that customers take in a single channel. Campaign as well as their triggers should be defined based on detailed customer journey mapping.
  3. Marketing Orchestration Across Channels – Shift from defining marketing campaigns to defining individual journey flows across multiple channels. As you capture more data, your sophistication and capabilities will improve to deliver the “next-best journey” for each individual across multiple channels.

The payoff of starting down the post-campaign personalized customer experiences is not just greater customer loyalty and satisfaction but more predictable revenue.

“Of course, technology is a key part of marketing orchestration, but what this report reveals is that it is also a practice that extends to a brand’s overall marketing strategies and organizational structures,” said Olrich.  “In this report, Forrester identifies a clear path for all marketers to begin the marketing orchestration journey, which begins with first creating a customer-focused culture. Marketing orchestration differs from other, traditional marketing models in that it absolutely puts the consumer in control, and so the organizations that will be most successful in the long run are those that fully embrace customer-centric philosophies and processes.”

See on

Categories: Advertising, Consumer Trends, Digital Advertising

Tags: ,

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