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Consumers Define Marketing Experience

Call it cross-channel, customer-centric, or personalized marketing, the practice of tailoring promotions to consumers across multiple touch points appears to increase engagement and sales activity. 

In a digital age, marketing must become on demand—always “on,” always relevant, and responsive to consumers’ needs and desires.

Fueling on-demand marketing is the continued evolution of technology and consumer expectations. Consider the current level of consumer empowerment, in which:

  • Search technologies make product information ubiquitous;
  • Social media encourages consumers to share, compare, and rate experiences; and
  • Mobile devices add a digital “wherever” dimension to the sales environment.

All this seems common and routine. Most leading marketers know how to think through customer-search needs, and optimizing search positioning has become one of the biggest media outlays. But that’s just the start, according to research from McKinsey.com.

Developments pushing marketing experiences even further include continual growth in mobile connectivity, better-designed online spaces created with powerful new HTML5 Web language, the activation of the “Internet of Things” in many devices through inexpensive communications tags and microtransmitters, and advances in handling “big data.”

As digital capabilities multiply, demands will increase in four areas as consumers expect:

1. Immediacy: People will want to interact anywhere at any time.
2. Empowerment: They’ll want to do truly new things as technologies create value for them, by deploying information from financial accounts to data on physical activity, for example.
3. Personalization: They’ll expect stored data to precisely target their needs or to personalize their experiences.
4. Simplicity: They’ll expect all interactions to be easy.

Consumers’ experiences with brands will become even more intense and defining. That matters because such experiences drive two-thirds of customer decisions, according to McKinsey’s research. Prices often drive the rest.

McKinsey’s research also identified the ways individuals interact with a brand as they embark on decision journeys across multiple touch points: considering, evaluating, purchasing, experiencing, sharing, and, ultimately, bonding with products after buying them.

Given this evolution, each company must mobilize to deliver high-quality experiences across sales, service, product use, and marketing. Few companies can execute at this level today.

As interactions multiply, companies will need to:

  • Use techniques such as design thinking to shape consumer experiences;
  • Be familiar with emerging tools for gathering the right data related to consumer decisions; and
  • Rethink marketing’s structure and role, as collaboration across functions becomes ever more essential.


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