We spend, they buy
- 15 January 2016
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Is your brand committing enough cash on your strategy to deliver an effective customer buying journey?
The marketing landscape has changed radically over the last decade as the rapid take-up of new technology trends – from smartphones and tablets to social media and always-on connectivity – has transformed the customer buying journey into a complex multichannel experience.
It comes as no surprise, then, that a recent survey has found marketing budgets are increasingly being allocated across the entire journey rather than being focused on individual channels. According to the CMO Club/IBM report Marketing is a (Buyer) Journey, Not a Destination, spending on the journey is set to increase by 50% over the next two years. This reflects the growing complexity connected technology has brought – and, importantly, the technological means marketers now have to capitalise on this.
So is your organisation committed to this shift in focus? And, if not, how do marketers make a case for the investment required?
“Consumers are demanding better, more connected experiences than in years past,” says Ian Woolley, GM EMEA at marketing data analytics firm Ensighten. “They are always on, and expect brands to be too. Alongside this, advertising technology has improved to a point where brands can now connect the customer journey across touchpoints, use this info to achieve a single customer view and drive more personalised interactions.”
“The biggest factor driving a change in focus for marketers is the availability of vast amounts of data and the tools to process it,” says Matt White, UK MD at digital advertising company Quantcast. “This means taking into account all brand interactions on everything from mobile to web page visits, search, social, video views and much more. Alongside this, multi-touch attribution technology – such as Abakus and Ensighten – is now enabling brands to understand what messages and tactics drive success throughout the entire journey, from prospecting to direct response.”
Rather than the ‘last touch’ attribution model, which considers only the final touch point a customer experienced before buying – maybe a landing page, review section or mobile web page – and directing marketing resources to what appears to be the most effective, the ‘multi-touch’ attribution model reflects the increasing complexity of the buying decision and the numerous touch points along the customer journey. Understanding how these touch points fit together and input into the buying decision – from SEO and email to social media and mobile web – and their relative importance to the conversion process underpins the value of the multi-touch attribution model in measuring marketing strategy effectiveness across the whole journey. This enables more agile and flexible multichannel strategies to be tried, tested and deployed – encouraging more innovative thinking and customer engagement across the buying journey.
How can marketers assess if they are investing sufficiently to deliver on the strategy? Woolley says: “They need to ask if they are delivering the best customer experiences possible, which means providing a consistent brand experience across touchpoints by measuring mobile along with web, and taking a personalised approach to customer engagement. If the answers to this is no, then marketers may have their answer.”
Robust attribution systems are the best way to assess the extent to which investment in data-driven marketing is driving results, says White from Quantcast: “Many marketers still use last-click, which unfairly credits the last touchpoint for every conversion. By employing tactics that take into account the entire funnel, the whole customer journey can be assessed to ensure that everything from that initial brand interaction on social media to the paid search that resulted in an eventual purchase, is optimised to the fullest.”
Attribution technology has come a long way in the past year or so, says White, with the arrival of split funnel attribution making it increasingly accessible. “Unlike pure multi-channel attribution solutions it does not require a hugely technical implementation, it simply requires the introduction of a new point of measurement – the first site visit – within the evaluation process. It’s about pooling data, and using one simple tool to understand the entire customer journey, and how different touch points playing a part from start to finish. With proper tagging it’s very accessible to businesses of all sizes, and provides the cost benefit of avoiding poorly allocated ad spend later down the line.”
Bringing data from all marketing functions together and putting the technology in place to start identifying patterns and trends naturally requires some investment, says White. “However, the impact of increasingly targeted advertising, reduced wastage on customers that are outside your potential customer base, and a better understanding of which tactics, channels and messages are driving success will pay dividends fairly quickly.”
Woolley agrees: “The ROI will be in the results – increased open rates, engagement, conversion rates and more. If marketers are struggling to get buy-in, starting on a small scale, identifying KPIs that are relevant to the business as a whole (not just the marketing team) and using a good measurement tool to map results back to these, should help them on their way.
“Companies that do not strive for optimising the customer experience will lose both customers and competitive advantage,” he concludes. “Customers aren’t going to become less connected and the technology won’t reduce in its sophistication, so marketers will benefit from getting ahead of the trend.
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