When a consumer isn’t happy with the product she just bought, where does she go to complain or ask for help? She might go back to the store, or call the manufacturer or the retailer, and she might go to the manufacturer’s Web site. But more than likely, she’ll hop on Facebook or Twitter to vent her frustration, where all of her friends and followers will witness the problem and perhaps share their own experiences.
In the best-case scenario, the manufacturer will know about this conversation and use the opportunity to weigh in with the appropriate customer support and marketing responses. But too often, these kinds of conversations end up defining the brand for consumers without the manufacturer participating or even knowing that it’s happening.
This situation illustrates a central dilemma facing manufacturers as they attempt to move toward data driven marketing: How can they capture data from a wide variety of online and offline sources (including the Web, email, social media, and mobile and text messaging), analyze it, and then create highly personalized messages to targeted consumers—and deliver those messages at the right time and at the right touch point?
Making it even more challenging for manufacturers to get cozy with their consumers, this process plays out against the product lines across the company and can involve departments and systems ranging from marketing and technology to customer service and product development.
Trends and Pain Points
Traditionally, manufacturers focused their brand marketing and consumer interaction on the mass media. In the age of the connected consumer, however, that’s no longer enough. To fully engage consumers in the age of connected shopping, manufacturers must capture and analyze data across a variety of sources and optimize interactions across a multitude of communications channels.
It’s critical to recognize that consumers now research and discuss brands among themselves with or without manufacturer participation, establishing brand meaning and value independent of ad agencies, campaigns, and mass media.
That creates a vastly more complex journey from knowing about a product to buying it. The process used to incorporate three simple steps:
See an advertisement.
Visit the nearest store.
Buy the product.
Now it might work something like this:
Check out online reviews.
Poll friends through social media.
Compare features among similar products at brand Web sites.
Check prices online at retailer Web sites.
Search for coupons or promotions.
Then, and only then, buy a product.
Just as important, thanks to the proliferation of smartphones and other networked devices, this process is now playing out at home, in the supermarket, in the fitting room, in store aisles, and even at the cash register.
Fortunately, emerging big data tools and techniques make it possible to collect, track, analyze, and optimize the huge amounts of structured and unstructured information created by these new relationships. Access to detailed consumer data can be a huge asset for manufacturing companies, but understanding and optimizing all that data and all those complex communications remains challenging.
Consumer communication now occurs simultaneously in multiple media channels, including social, mobile, email, and text messages, which generate a variety of data that must be managed in real time, while it remains relevant. Record levels of media saturation—experts estimate that consumers now see thousands of marketing messages every day—means manufacturers must deliver tailored messages when they have the most value to consumers so they won’t filter or tune them out.
These communications can affect an entire manufacturing company, from marketing to customer service. Traditional consumer-insight tools (panels, surveys, syndicated data, and one-time promotions) can’t keep up, and most manufacturers don’t have the technical capabilities to efficiently capture, integrate, and use these integrated consumer insights to gain a complete view of their consumers.
That’s why manufacturers are struggling to establish scalable and personal connections with consumers based on accrued insights from all relevant data sources. And it’s why a leading analyst firm estimates that by 2017, marketing executives will spend more on technology than will technology executives.
By 2014, according to a leading analyst firm, companies that develop an integrated marketing management strategy to meet customers’ expectations will deliver a 50 percent higher return on marketing investment than those that don’t. Because their social media and digital marketing efforts are not fully integrated and optimized, it should be no surprise that many brands are not yet seeing the sales gains they might expect. Developing an integrated approach consists of three important steps:
Be aware of all the myriad data sources, offline and online, that affect a manufacturer’s brands and products. That includes individual identity data, behavioral data (location, purchase history, call-center transcripts, etc.), derived data (credit scores, personas, influence scores, etc.), and self-identified data (purchase intent, social media likes, user-generated content, etc.).
Analyze gathered information with big data techniques and tools. Forrester Research says more than 45 percent of current big data deployments are for marketing, and marketers are expected to spend 60 percent more on analytics solutions in the next three years. The goal is to understand how the different channels interact and then put it all together to build an accurate and complete picture of current consumer behavior.
Drive action from the data analysis. With data-driven marketing, manufacturers can join the conversation when consumers talk about their brands, their products, and industries. These kinds of personalized dialogs can help capture consumer mindshare, spurring them to action and converting them into loyal shoppers and brand champions. More broadly, it enables making coordinated business decisions to boost marketing effectiveness, customer satisfaction, and, ultimately, sales.
The New World of Consumer Packaged Goods
In an industry plagued by slow growth, private-label competition, increased commodity costs, and a lack of innovation, consumer-packaged-goods manufacturers must rethink the definition of successful marketing. In the old days, 80 percent of purchase decisions could be influenced in-store—but not anymore. Despite a huge increase in trade promotion expenses, consumers are now an estimated 80 percent confident in their shopping list before they enter the store.
Getting on that list starts well before the first moment of truth--the instant when a shopper traditionally makes his or her purchase while standing in the store aisle. Savvy manufacturers who want to get on those lists need to own what Google calls the zero moment of truth, when consumers make their choices online before venturing out to the store. So they’re adding email campaigns, brand Web sites, text-message promotions, mobile applications, and social media to marketing mainstays such as coupons, packaging, shelf position, endcaps, freestanding inserts, and television and print advertising.
But making all that work at scale requires a unified, consumer-centric approach to creating and nurturing individual relationships. That means executing dialog strategies, not just sending out isolated mailings.
Marketing to a male buyer researching shaving and skin care, for example, requires messaging across multiple channels, including online. Automatically initiating programmatic follow-ups, including message reinforcement and reminders, is essential to ensure consistent action and closure.
At every step, one message simply does not fit all situations. Jupiter Research reports that by segmenting and targeting prospects based on specific behaviors, marketers can increase open rates by more than 50 percent and conversion rates by more than 30 percent.
Optimizing a dialog strategy requires coordinating all the touch points, as follows, to create and send personalized messaging that accounts for multiple consumer situations and responses:
Consumers entering the campaign at different times
Consumers progressing through the dialog at their own pace via different routes, based on their particular needs and preferences
Consumers responding to each step, not in waves determined by preprogramming
To maximize effectiveness and return on investment (ROI), testing and analysis is required at each step of the process.
To truly understand consumers, manufacturers need cross-channel visibility, both within brands and across their entire brand portfolio. To capture and convert connected consumers in today’s media-saturated environment, manufacturers must reach out to consumers when and where they want to be reached. Personalized, interactive consumer communications must become a core competency.
By capturing and analyzing the millions of consumer interactions that would not otherwise become part of the manufacturer’s institutional knowledge, manufacturers now have the opportunity to take advantage of game-changing integrated consumer insights to affect individual consumer outcomes.
More effective marketing is only the beginning. Other benefits include more effective customer support, more targeted product design and refinement, and a stronger competitive position.
Even better, manufacturers can now embrace this new paradigm via a comprehensive managed service that doesn’t place new demands on their marketing and analytics professionals. Read more about how to get started here.
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