Like Its 2099…

Screen-Shot-2014-09-16-at-15[1]Some brands are partying like “it’s 1999.”

And it shows in their marketing tactics in how they connect to the consumer – from emailing to content publication to media purchasing.

It’s 2015 and Prince wants his perm and bellbottoms back.

For example, email blasting inconsistent messages to untargeted audiences from Outlook in a Rambo-like manner and customer list building for quantity rather than quality worked in the past, because media distribution used to be owned by a few conglomerates.   Consumers received product information from a handful of sources, predominantly TV advertising.

However, the rate of tech innovation, media fragmentation and consumer habits have been evolving so rapidly and non-linearly on happy path to purchase, it would make a spinning top or Dreidel dizzy.    As a result, brands are struggling to keep up and attribute conversion through marketing funnels with the onset of digital, mobile and social activity.

The old marketing playbook is broken.

Prospects are deciding anonymity, skipping TV ads and clicking on Unsubscribe and Do Not Call lists. When they are engaged, they are finicky gymnasts jumping in at any stage of the purchase funnel(i.e. awareness, consideration and purchase) dragging items into shop cart on an ecommerce site or clicking to a car-sharing service suggested by a friend in Twitter.  In a 2015 survey done by Mindshare Shop, “47% of Millennials(18-35) intentionally leave items in an online cart in expectation of an offer via ad or email.”  This means that the next generation of digital-first consumers will be even more A.D.D. expecting marketers to understand them and medicate with always on, ubiquitous advertising that is relevant, rich and meaningful.

Although marketers can track everything that happens on the internet, the data remains enigmatic and partially unusable as content is no longer owned and solely pushed by the brand.  Consumers are participants in the storytelling and can push content back, sometimes brand favorable, sometimes not.  They have a voice and can amplify the tentacles of their influence in the echo chamber of social platforms like Facebook, etc.

Therefore, emerging and established brands must refresh their business models, strip away bureaucracy, and automate the manual measurements/processes of their marketing.  The focus should manifest in two major investments to connect with customers:

  • Customer experience as the engine of growth.  It is not 1999.  Although emails deliver the highest ROI, blasting emails from outlook will fail to build long-term relationships. Simplistic tactics and journey builders that generate binary, yes/no outcomes are not scalable and automatic on a campaign-to-campaign basis.  Firms need to invest in Marketing Automation tools like Marketo, Eloqua, and Hubspot. This includes a configurable email platform that feeds off customer data and life cycle information, to sequence and coordinate personalized 1:1 messaging no matter if the customer is on Instagram, email, texting, in the store or in the web shopping cart.
  • Media buying as more science and art form.  For the longest, the old adage was  “I know half of my advertising works I don’t know which half.”   As media budgets shrink for TV advertising, it is crucial to harness 1st and third party data to build the right audience profiles for precision targeting.  Additionally, it is crucial to understand the ROI of promotional and marketing initiatives, and how it drives demonstrable top-line revenue growth.  Thus, firms must fearlessly push into Omni-channel measurement and get more granular about understanding what media contributes to sales. They must invest in multi-touch attribution modeling and data management platforms for automatic ad buying.  It is not 1999.   Many firms are running tired propensity models that are like blunt instruments, resembling a sledge hammer hitting a tiny nail in the corner.   Ad spend has to move along the performance curve more efficiently to be considered a COG (Cost of Goods Sold) and active input to producing results rather than a discretionary expense that is sunken.

Brands can no longer be dancing on rooftops like its 1999, out-of-touch with their consumers and the trends that drive conversation.  By building self-sustaining, multi-stage programs that drive surprising and meaningful conversations with consumers, marketers can focus less on the mundane, like insertion orders and ad tagging, and more on testing and iterating good ideas, sound strategy.  Making these key tweaks will drive more revenue and deepen the customer relationship to party like its 2099.