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The new age of connected ‘hybrid’ marketing

Jed Mole, European marketing director of global data solutions provider, Acxiom, discusses the value of adopting a hybrid marketing strategy.

For years now, the Holy Grail for marketers has been the ability to activate strategies and brand experiences which are consistent across all touchpoints.

We know, as an industry, that ideally we strive to create a single customer view that spans these separate worlds, with the ability to track and measure attribution, to reveal where digital communications has led to an in-store sale.

Increasingly connected

We could dream couldn’t we? But that dream has so frequently proved unobtainable.

However, in today’s increasingly connected and data-driven world, it’s now possible to connect the two traditionally segregated worlds to gain granular insight at the individual level. Today, it is increasingly possible to identify, understand, reach and measure across all touchpoints and devices. The truth is, the ability to connect everywhere and deliver more relevant marketing has arrived, but people may not have woken up to this potential.

The modern day relationship of a business with its customer requires continuous and relevant engagement through multiple platforms in order to deepen bonds and earn loyalty. There is no doubt that the tangled media landscape in which we live, where people flit between devices and channels, makes recognising those customers accurately challenging. Yet, the days of putting something out there to the masses and hoping for the best are long since over, so we’d better get on with it.

While a customer’s path to purchase may be more complex than ever before, emerging analytics technologies have provided us with the greatest measurement capabilities we’ve ever seen. Through online tracking and data monitoring, we’re able to target small groups with different messages and track the effectiveness of each campaign, audience and segment, providing the opportunity our marketing predecessors could only dream of; the ability to truly recognise and identify our customers, and track how effectively we’re communicating with them from start to finish.

Expectations of a seamless customer experience are constantly on the rise, and consumers are now in a position to be demanding more. So what is it that customers want from their interaction with a brand? They want consistency, to be recognised from all touchpoints, across all devices. Just what we also want! Achieving this has always been a desirable yet daunting notion for marketers – and therefore has traditionally been avoided in the past due to the sheer amount of data waiting to be processed.

In addition to this monolithic task of wading through years, if not decades of data, when you factor in the cost and man hours required to complete this task, it’s no wonder that this is a task which has not been high on the to-do list. Now, however, continued advancements in technology and data management are making implementing a connected, ‘hybrid’ marketing strategy that provides a cohesive customer journey well within our reach.

The problem was exacerbated by trying to blend the proverbial apples and oranges of data. While powerful, this insight can only truly be used to inform our strategy and build a consistent customer experience when the dots between offline data and online marketing have been properly connected. Insight from data in the real world is pointless if we’re not able to utilise and match that online, and vice versa. If both marketing tactics are integrated successfully, there’s a real chance of generating better results than one tactic can produce alone, achieving a much more complete view of the customer in the process.

Well, almost. It’s not yet 100% possible to connect all your digital data with your offline insight and real world customers. But it’s already possible to make a transformational difference to your targeting, your personalisation, your ROI – and to the relationship you foster with the customer. This means a greater understanding of attribution, and how campaigns accumulate interest before the ‘last rule’ action triggers a sale. It also means a greater comprehension of what that particular, customer wants and values.

We marketers parked the notion of connecting across two different marketing worlds because it was hard, but while we’ve rightly focused on what we can do with what we have, the capacity for what is now possible has suddenly changed. Nothing worth having comes easy, and those of us marketers who tackle this challenge head on will truly see that adopting a ‘hybrid’ marketing strategy to achieve a seamless customer journey will add a huge amount of value to their relationships with consumers. That is something worth having.

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