Staying top of mind in this media-saturated, sensory-overloaded world is more than just a conundrum. It’s a cacophony—with thousands upon thousands of companies all vying for the attention of the same consumers.
In the past decade alone, the average individual went from getting roughly 300 messages a day to 5,000, once we count the posts and shares from social channels.
It’s no wonder then that 45% of Millennials are unmoved by traditional marketing efforts. All that noise just dulls the senses, making it nearly impossible to engage, let alone inspire, brand advocates.
“How do I reach customers?” isn’t the question any longer. We’ve got that one down. The real question has now become: “How do I ensure my messaging is engaging customers and calling them to action?”
The answer lies in the ever-evolving customer purchasing path, as well as the moments that matter most along that journey.
Cracking The Customers’ Code
To understand these moments (or micro-moments really), we need to think beyond the “who”—the demographics or psychographics—and delve into the “why” and “how.” Individuals still matter, but the key is in understanding their motivations, their behavioral traits, and the category interactions going into their buying decisions.
Understanding these elements will help us craft a dynamic journey, allowing us to create and deliver the right message in the right medium for key moments along the way.
Data can be a huge help in uncovering customer motivations. We have the ability to track customers and integrate their activity across multiple channels—all in real time. This can facilitate more personalized targeting, helping us better understand and map customers’ decision-making processes and behavioral journeys.
But when we want to influence customers, we need more than access to mountains of data. We need a method of marketing analysis that uses that data in a smart way to cut through the noise and focus sharply on new opportunities.
One of the values of marketing analytics is that while it draws insights from social sciences, it develops an interpretive theory of data within the scope of business objectives. It helps us shape patterns of meaning within the immense diversity of the market and provides a systematic method for evolving marketing objectives, creative expressions, and media plans.
Keying Into The Purchase Driver
So how exactly do you balance data insights with enough empathy and understanding to rise above the din and make a direct connection with the consumer?
1. Use data to drive precision: Not all data is created equal. Be sure to hunt for key data points and data connections that make the decision-making journey easy for consumers. We need enough information to analyze the needs or pain points that influence behavior.
Explore how cultural, developmental, emotional, and contextual influences play out in our brains and shape our choices. Look at how we use persuasion, incentives, choice architecture, and personal appeals to influence decisions.
2. Target consumers along their journey: Targeting goes beyond just addressing someone by name. Understanding the customer’s non-linear purchasing journey—and speaking to specific pain points along the way—will help drive measurable actions.
One of the largest theater chains challenged my company to reinvent and redefine the in-theater audience experience. Our solution was to design a personalized, experiential mobile engagement platform to connect with moviegoers on an emotional level. The goal was to amplify and extend the theater experience before, during, and after a show by inviting and rewarding users for their participation.
3. Tailor the journey to the consumer: Precision in targeting and empathetic storytelling are both equally important in driving action and scale. Design the journey, but let the customer navigate the path. After all, not all customers move at the same pace or in the same direction.
Typically, there are three kinds of communication messages: scheduled, triggered, and ad hoc. Scheduled is typically pre-decided messaging like a weekly newsletter, whereas ad hoc stems from specific campaigns for a new product, service, or promotion.
Triggered communication works off of customer activity, such as a complaint, renewal, upgrade, or life event. By engaging at the right trigger points within the customer journey, the message itself becomes more meaningful.
4. Provide context to add meaning: Mapping the right mix of content and context to the customer journey is key to driving engagement. It’s about understanding the contextual mindset of consumers when they encounter a particular piece of content.
Certain categories of products or services do well around different events and times of year, allowing the right content to be delivered at the right time. Past interactions with a brand also provide some context, allowing one-on-one interactions with a specific consumer.
5. Employ a cross-platform approach: Measurable channels like direct mail, email, mobile promotions, and the like have the potential to drive effective responses, acting as complements for the mass media-led advertising.
Along with data-driven insights comes a greater responsibility for storytelling, which again needs to be scalable. By that same token, measurable, action-oriented messaging should be repeatedly tested and optimized for effectiveness.
While making direct connections to consumers may seem daunting, it’s all based on a single, simple formula. Once you understand the consumer’s lifestyle, spending behavior, and purchasing journey, all that’s left is to craft simple, relevant messaging that’s delivered on effective channels to the right person at the right time.