I recently had the pleasure of sharing the microphone at a Direct Marketing Association luncheon with Michael Parker, the vice president of strategic marketing at Symantec. He spoke about the myth of viral video and how Symantec went about measuring its video marketing social success.
During his informative, insightful presentation, he pointed out the need - and Symantec's ability - to deliver a "consistent customer experience" across multiple channels. The phrase stuck with me and kept perturbing me until I got a handle on why such a simple idea is actually such a deep, dark problem.
When an individual sees an ad on TV, receives a direct mail piece, clicks on an ad, arrives on a landing page, views a video, receives a follow-up email, etc., etc., that individual should be having a seamless experience. The message, the look-and-feel, the offer, and the voice of the company should be consistent.
If a search results in a great offer, you expect the landing page to continue the conversation. But so often, you end up on the home page with no reference to the click-through enticement. Waaay too often.
When it comes to more considered purchases, the lines of communication cross in even more complicated ways. As a prospect or a customer, I want the experience to be seamless. I do not mean it should be cookie-cutter. I applaud serious segmentation and wish for it fervently. My experience should not necessarily be the same as yours but should necessarily be the same as mine.
My impression of the brand should be tailored and consistent.
Connecting the Dots
Your job is to collect the data from a dozen platforms and follow the customer experience thread through multiple departmental silos, dozens of disparate datasets, and numerous political battlefields.
If you can do that, you should be able to show how the customer experience threads that enjoy seamless experiences deliver more sales, more loyal customers, and more profits. Those that don't, exhibit higher bounce rates, lower engagement, and lost opportunity.
This analytical evidence can convince the powers that be to view the company from the customer's point of view. It can lead to an organization that intuitively understands the value of social media. It can inspire management to consolidate brand messaging and line extensions so they make sense to target audiences. It can lead to a customer base that enjoys repeatedly engaging with the company.
Start on the Offensive
Where do you begin? With a little show and tell: dirty laundry.
Gather up current marketing materials from around your organization. What might a customer see from your company today? The magazine ads, the TV commercials, the search results ads, the banner ads, the direct mail pieces, the email newsletter, and, yes, the wide variety of posts, tweets, comments, and photo sharing that's going on out there with your brand all over it.
Put it all up on a wall and step back.
Does the result look like a well-planned, well-coordinated, cohesive strategy? Or does it look like a multitude of marketing managers, product marketers, agencies, and interns were off in their respective corners reinventing the wheel?
The data you collect, correlate, and explain to the rest of the company might just be the wakeup call needed to help your customers get the message, instead of getting mixed messages.
Michael Parker, I take my hat off to you. Well done, sir. Well done.
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Jim Sterne is an international consultant focused on measuring the value of the online marketing for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, produces the eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit and is co-founder and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association.
March 19, 2014