Drummers call it “the groove.” Developers go into “hack mode.” Financial traders say they’re “in the pipe.” Positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi devoted his life to studying this hyper-focused, hyper-productive state, which he dubbed “flow.”
According to Csikszentmihalyi, flow is that pleasurable, even blissful, state in which you have an energized sense of focus and are fully immersed in the activity at hand. Employers have good reasons for helping promote this state in their employees. In a multi-year study, executives told McKinsey researchers they were 500 percent more productive when in the flow.
Csikszentmihalyi defined three basic requirements for a flow state:
- Clarity. You must have a clear set of goals, plus the ability to track progress toward them.
- Speed. You need have near-instant feedback on your progress, so you can adjust your efforts and maintain the flow.
- Control. The task must be challenging, but not overwhelming. You must feel that success is within reach, and that you have the necessary tools and skills to achieve it.
Unfortunately for many marketers who create and execute campaigns, the flow state is all too rare. Disconnected data and executions systems prevent insight into customer data, which obliterates clarity. And they often have to wait for overburdened technical experts to complete key tasks and gather data on campaign results, destroying speed and any sense of control.
Fortunately, an enterprise-grade customer data platform (CDP) can break down the barriers to flow state.
Let’s say a member of the team has been tasked with promoting a new offering: a navy-blue cashmere sweater. Now imagine she has access to both historic and real-time data on all of the brand’s customers.
Through a business-friendly user interface, she can see which customers have browsed for sweaters in general, cashmere in particular, and even this particular sweater in another design or color. She knows who has already purchased this particular sweater, or ones like it. Since the cashmere sweater is pricier than average, she can separate customers who are price-sensitive from those willing to pay more from luxury products.
The possibilities are endless, and suddenly she has a welter of ideas for effective ways to build audience segments by combining these and other customer attributes in creative ways. Better yet, she can instantly model those audience segments, see how large or small each audience is, and grow, narrow and refine as needed.
Best of all, she has the ability to orchestrate and execute the resulting audience segments across any channel, both internal and third-party. The platform can automatically route messages via the most effective channel based on individual customers’ past interactions with the brand. And she even has the tools to quickly individualize the messages she sends at scale, by automatically drawing on customers’ previous interactions, from browsing to purchasing.
How CDPs Power the Flow
Not once was our imaginary marketer interrupted from her work to request, and then wait on, tech experts. Meanwhile, she was so happily immersed in her work that it didn’t even feel like work. Instead of weeks, she was able to build and execute the campaign in hours.
With an enterprise-grade customer data platform (CDP), flow can be the default state for your marketing team, because CDPs are engineered specifically to enable marketers to act with clarity, speed and control:
* Clarity. CDPs don’t just jam a bunch of data from different systems into a single database. Otherwise, marketers would still need tech experts to pull lists, etc. Instead, the CDP organizes and connects all relevant customer data—then presents it not in endless columns and rows but business-friendly customer attributes via an intuitive interface. Besides visibility into the data itself, marketers can maintain clarity through each step of campaign creation, from creating and orchestrating segments to testing and measurement.
* Speed. Besides instant access to data (including near-real-time customer behaviors), marketers can quickly and creatively interact with the data as they create potential audience segments, and then adjust them iteratively and on the fly as they test ideas, grow or shrink segment sizes, or create hyper-targeted segments.
* Control. CDPs put marketers in control by providing a complete set of tools to build a campaign: defining customer attributes, fine-tuning segments, executing the campaign, and analyzing its performance—including the power to measure incremental lift within and across channels. This insight in performance completes the circle, providing even greater clarity, speed and control as they move on to their next campaign.
Want to keep marketers in the flow? Learn more about CDPs and how to evaluate the right CDP for your organization.