Mastering Customer Experience in the Era of the Empowered Consumer

Visual IQ Nielsen LogoThanks to digital, consumers are more empowered, and their buying journeys are more complex than ever before. At any given moment, they expect highly relevant, friction-free brand experiences on the channels and devices that are right for them. In fact, more than half of consumers are prepared to walk away from a brand that doesn’t offer a personalized and relevant experience.

Meeting and even exceeding these expectations is possible, but not using the siloed, channel-specific strategies that marketers often resort to today. Marketers need to shake up their approach in order to optimize both the consumer experience and their marketing effectiveness, and people-based marketing is the fabric of that solution.

People-based marketing represents a fundamental shift from viewing consumer behavior in the context of individual channels to placing consumers at the center of marketing strategies. It enables marketers to track and measure consumer behavior across channels and devices, so they can understand how customers and prospects are interacting with their brand and which touchpoints are generating desired behaviors (such as an online conversion or in-store purchase, for example).

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However, change is never easy, and adopting a people-based approach requires new processes and platforms. Here are three fundamental steps to get you started:

Consolidate marketing data across platforms

For a complete picture of customers and prospects, organizations must consolidate their audience and interaction data that are stored in disparate systems. Where possible, this should include data from both offline and online channels (web, mobile, call center, store, etc.), as well as demographic, intent, interest, and other audience attribute data from first- and third-party sources. By marrying and de-duplicating this disparate data in an anonymous and privacy-safe manner, marketers can gain a more holistic, people-based view of their customers and prospects, create high-value audience segments to target, and tailor content, offers and experiences to meet their unique needs and preferences.

Restructure marketing teams to be cross-functional

Optimizing the consumer experience requires marketing teams to be synchronized across every touchpoint. But just like marketing data is siloed by systems, marketing functions also tend to be siloed by brand, product or channel. Teams and/or individuals work independently, often with their own outside agencies, and use their own set of metrics to measure engagement, conversions, revenue, and return. These organizational silos not only promote duplication and waste but also create a disjointed experience for consumers.

To successfully adopt a people-based approach, companies must rethink their traditional, siloed structures and move toward cross-functional teams that can develop, test, measure, and optimize all of their marketing and advertising strategies and tactics against a common set of success metrics. By understanding what consumers value – and prioritizing metrics that reflect this value – marketers can create a cohesive consumer experience that feels like it’s being delivered by a single organization, rather than several different departments.

Measure all touchpoints, not just last click

Marketers recognize that different email offers, display placements, search keywords, and other tactics offer different kinds of value to customers and prospects based on where they are in their journey. However, most marketers are still resorting to last-touch attribution, which only gives credit to the last touchpoint and neglects the contribution of supporting channels and tactics that played a role in influencing the desired action.

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To successfully deliver a people-based approach, marketers must move away from last-touch to an audience-centric, multi-touch attribution concept. When audience data is unified with multi-touch attribution, it produces people-based marketing performance insights. Marketers can see exactly which messages, content, creative, and offers are resonating with target audiences, and use this insight to make inter- and intra-channel budget optimizations, as well as optimizations to the consumer experience that translate into measurable increases in engagement, conversions, and ROI.

Optimizing the customer experience is a must in the era of the empowered consumer. Flawless interactions will drive desired outcomes and long-term customer loyalty, while disjointed experiences will send customers running to competitors. Taking a people-based marketing approach will allow marketers to deliver the relevant and personalized experiences that the empowered consumer expects.

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