Digital is no longer a channel. Digital is behavior. For consumers of every age digital is a normal fact of life. At Boston Digital, we refer to this phenomenon as the Impulse Generation. This moniker is not meant to imply that consumers are simply impulsive. Rather, it points to all consumers’ ability to act freely on impulses, without friction. And it cuts both ways as consumers are also constantly bombarded by outside impulses created by the changing winds of the world we live in. Marketers must keep pace and act accordingly.
This multi-part blog series will explore how to build a comprehensive marketing strategy to meet the Impulse Generation by optimizing different parts of the marketing process including branding, personas, designing, activation, and analytics.
Analytics for Impulse: Ongoing. At Scale. At Pace
Why it matters
A lens into your digital ecosystem is a lens into your customer. Your customer is living online. They are asserting and redefining their identity in the digital realm. Marketing to your customer as if they were a homogenous market segment is not enough, you need to be able to cut through the generalizations and provide an individual experience that makes them feel truly unique. By letting your customer know that you remember their choices and preferences you allow them to build a connection to your brand that becomes part of not just their digital experience, but their overall identity.
Why thinking needs to evolve
Companies began forming marketing departments when they realized that understanding the customer’s needs could set them apart from the competition when it came to building products and growing sales. Today’s digitally accelerated world has expanded customer expectation: your online experiences are part of your product. The customer is learning about you and experiencing your brand promise online. Companies need to learn about the customer’s needs and then rapidly cater to those needs to outperform the competition.
The key to truly understanding your customers' needs lies in the data. However, using analytics to understand your customers is not an event, it is a process. We can no longer view analytics as an add on or something that can be delegated to an intern. Taking an analytics-driven approach to capturing the Impulse Generation requires a holistic rethinking of your marketing ecosystem. Your marketing tools need to be oriented towards listening, understanding and then adjusting.
We know people are influenced by real-world conditions. We know our marketing efforts can impact attitudes and sentiments. To be able to understand your ever-changing audience you need to build an analytics-based system that not only anticipates their needs, but even predicts them. To reach the Impulse Generation your marketing needs to be listening, personalizing and predicting.
Here’s how to be more “behavior” and “impulse” ready
A robust and connected martech stack is what allows you to intake data on your customer’s needs. Analytics without action does not deliver value to the customer and thus doesn’t deliver value to your business. To understand your analytics and take action, you need a system that automates highly personalized touch points and provides you with the right scope and scale of information. Not only do your customer relationship management software, marketing automation platform and website need to be in sync, this sync needs to be oriented in a way that is highly logical and easy to understand. Even if you have a flawless martech sync, it will be largely ineffective at helping you react with speed and scale, if your marketing and sales team does not understand the data flow.
Once you have created a system that can listen and learn, next you need to make sure it can scale. We know that it is key for each of your customers to have an individualized experience but how do you replicate that across thousands of audiences and touchpoints? The first step is using your analytics to give you a more fluid understanding of your customers' complex identity, as it exists in an evolving environment. This may sound difficult or even impossible, however it starts with taking a look at your current market segments and creating analytics reports to test your assumptions. You will find that many of your assumptions are outdated and that each group is not as siloed as you expect. From there you can begin to build a more complex mapping of your customers' tendencies.
It is crucial that your approach is data-centric. This is the only way to deconstruct any binary assumptions you have about your market segments. For example, many marketers still tend to equate online shopping with younger consumers and in-person shopping with older consumers. We recently conducted a survey, which showed that the mobile and digital habits of different age groups have more commonalities than differences. By cutting through outdated ideas of age-related behavior and homing in on consumer intent, we are able to target based on what the needs of our customers are, not where we think our customers are going to act on these needs. A data-centric approach will allow you to better understand intent and allow you to target across channels and platforms.
Marketers today vastly oversimplify consumer segmentation. The Impulse Generation expects the brand promise to pull through in every interaction in a personalized way. It is essential to craft your analytics to tune into today’s complex consumer and give them personalized content and the seamless digital experience they expect. A true analytical understanding of your consumers will allow you to anticipate their preferences and guide their behavior in a way that will give you a competitive advantage in any industry.
Stay tuned for the next article in our “Winning the Digital Normal” series where we explore how to craft personas for the impulse. You can also take a look at part #1 “Branding for the Impulse” here.