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Guest Blogger

By Anoma van Eeden, CMO, Relay42

The continued emergence of new digital channels is both a blessing and a curse for marketers. On the one hand, each one brings with it an exciting opportunity to deliver marketing communications to audiences in new and creative ways. On the other hand, it makes it much more difficult for marketers to maintain engagement with their audiences and ensure brand consistency when there are so many different channels to think about.

The use of various online and offline touchpoints to deliver marketing campaigns has been dubbed ‘omni-channel’ by the marketing community, and although the term itself comes into disrepute among marketers — many steer clear due to ubiquitous omnipresence it applies — it is still extremely valuable. With the right omni-channel approach, businesses can retain those much-valued long-lasting relationships with their customers through meaningful, hyper-personalised dialogue, which often leads to increased brand loyalty.

To understand this value, imagine that a customer is trying to book flights to Greece for an upcoming family holiday. The customer’s journey begins by asking a voice assistant for the cheapest flights to Santorini, and the voice assistant then scans the internet for the best deals before using sophisticated orchestration technology to send the results to the consumer’s mobile phone via push notification. Not only is the consumer left with the right product, at the right time, but the company can then use this data to target the consumer with any relevant flights or deals in the future.

Being able to initiate this relatively complex marketing journey from a single voice assistant query is a perfect example of multi-channel marketing, and it is this kind of thinking that can allow marketers to optimise every opportunity — and deliver value on every customer journey — extending it from a single channel exchange to a multi-channel journey.

While multi-channel marketing undoubtedly can reconnect brands with their audiences through personalised dialogue, it has also introduced an array of jargon to the marketer’s lexicon that only serves to confuse. Although some of it can indeed be valuable in delivering tailored approaches across multiple channels, it ultimately distracts many from the overall goal of marketing: to identify brand awareness and revenue goals and deploy an appropriate marketing strategy to ensure those goals are met. By encouraging this jargon, we can also forget how important it is to not only assess and measure marketing data, but also activate it.

Whether your marketing goals include acquiring new customers or increasing engagement and satisfaction across your existing base, marketers can radically increase their chances of achieving them using a centralised data management platform (DMP). These can often go by several names — customer data platform (CDP) and universal data hub (UDH) are two commonly-used alternatives — and while each one essentially serves the same purpose, they often differ in terms of what they can achieve.

While there are many to choose from, the most effective DMPs are agile and easy to set-up, while also boasting the sophistication, intelligence and operational flexibility to act as the beating heart of any marketing operation. The platform itself can be tweaked in-line with specific business goals, and then used to target numerous audiences or segments of individuals — no matter how niche the demographic — with the right message and context for their intentions and the organisation’s marketing goals. By doing this, businesses can ensure they are talking to their audience in ways that genuinely interest them.

DMPs should also ideally be system and platform agnostic and allow for ‘plug-and-play’ capabilities, which allows marketers to adapt, thrive and deliver immediate results in a technological landscape that refuses to stand still.

All of this will be for nothing, however, if the DMP itself does not comply to the forthcoming general data protection regulation (GDPR) legislation that is set to come into effect in May 2018. With stricter rules around the transparency and security of customer data, marketers must ensure compliancy if they are to truly use their DMP efficiently and effectively.

While DMPs that boast all these abilities have already proved to be effective in achieving marketing success, their hidden value lies in their ability to work with future channels and touchpoints. The likes of artificial intelligence-led voice assistants and online chatbots have already been tested alongside DMPs, and could easily be integrated into existing marketing campaigns to enable an even more comprehensive customer journey.

One emerging technology that is sure to impact marketing strategies soon is beacon technology. This ensures that customers only get push notifications on their smartphones when they are nearby the relevant location and therefore more likely to take advantage of an offer. For example, if a restaurant sends a customer a voucher for 50 per cent off any lunch meal while they’re sat at home then they’re unlikely to take advantage of the offer. However, send the same voucher to the consumer while they’re walking down the street that the restaurant is on and they’re much more likely to redeem that voucher.

Conclusion

As marketing strategies continue to grow both in their sophistication and the number of touchpoints involved, marketers continue running the risk of becoming disconnected from their audience through irrelevant, unnecessary or fragmented communications. Agile, plug-and-play DMPs make it much easier to analyse customer data, determine what messages should be sent to which audience segments and decide upon the channels that are used to deliver these messages. Through intelligent orchestration, these platforms can help to reconnect brands with their audiences in this challenging multi-channel environment.

Anoma Van Eeden has recently joined Relay42 as Chief Marketing Officer. Van Eeden has spent her entire career in B2B enterprise marketing, having previously worked as Head of Marketing EMEA for Optimizely, and has also held Director positions in both Europe and the US.

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