4 Traits of Today's Consumers That Make Present Tense Marketing Necessary

  |  June 10, 2014   |  Comments

What are the key behavior traits that define today's consumer? Columnist Katrina Conn shares these traits to assist marketers in better understanding the behaviors of the constantly connected consumer.

The everyday life of consumers is being transformed. Thanks to the mobile devices glued to their hips, consumers are able to access information and take action online anywhere, anytime.

Understanding the behaviors that result from being constantly connected is crucial to reaching and engaging today's on-the-go consumers at their exact time and place of need. The ability to do that – to create consumer experiences that leverage a contextual understanding of the consumer's present state – is what we are calling "Present Tense Marketing."

So what are the key behavior traits that define today's consumers?

Are Always Connected

circle-connectionWhat does "always connected" mean? The answer is easily demonstrated if you think about when and how you engage with brands and consume content. Whether it's turning on your tablet first thing in the morning to scroll through your favorite sites as you eat breakfast, checking your email to review the latest offers, or looking for location-based information on your smartphone while running errands, your daily habits are likely those of an "always connected" consumer. You seamlessly – and often simultaneously – use multiple channels and multiple devices to engage with your favorite brands. Identifying the how, when, where, and why consumers connect with a brand gives marketers the contextual insight to deliver relevant Present Tense communications.

Expect Needs to Be Instantly Met

context-connectionConsumer expectations continue to increase. Word of mouth now travels the world in a flash, whether it's a Facebook post, a tweet, a Yelp restaurant review, or an product review. This can potentially turn any new product launch or brand experience into a positive or negative customer referral that reaches broad audiences. Consumer satisfaction is set and measured by their experience in terms of convenience, service level and relevance to their personal needs. Naturally, we feel disappointed when our expectations are not met. When that happens we look elsewhere for gratification. Each instance of customer disappointment poses a major risk because it means you may have lost not just a single customer, but many potential customers – all thanks to one negative comment online.

Leave Clues – A Trail of Digital Footprints

circle-intentAs I explained in my previous article, digital footprints are the data left by customer interactions that take place within any kind of digital environment. These digital footprints include data about what you clicked on, searched for, Liked, where you went, your location, your IP address, what you said, and what was said about you. All this data can and is being used in behavioral and target marketing, personalization, and social media and social graphing. This avalanche of consumer data is the key to understanding a customer's present state, which is the precursor to being able to develop and deliver relevant experiences.

Are Easily Turned Off by Marketing Mistakes

circle-relevanceMarketing is more than just advertising or selling. It's about providing an excellent customer experience. How people perceive your business or brand is determined by the image you project regularly, what other consumers say about your brand, and the aggregation of an individual customer's personal experiences with your brand. Have you ever received an email offer for a pair of boots you recently looked at online, only to find out that the retailer is sold out of the color advertised? Do you then search other retail sites for the boots you want in the size and color you are looking for? I know I do. Failing to provide relevant and useful information to customers based on their profile, interests, and behaviors is one of the biggest marketing mistakes any brand can make. Today's consumers expect more from the brands they favor, and they aren't afraid to look to competitive alternatives when they have unsatisfactory experiences.

Success in today's competitive marketing environment requires understanding these behavior traits and consciously designing your marketing engagements to be the "always on" brand experience that consumers now demand. By capturing the digital data footprints your customers are leaving behind and using that insight to offer true Present Tense Marketing experiences that meet heightened expectations, you can avoid turning customers off with non-relevant communications that annoy and confuse rather than inform and enable.

How Present Tense is your customer experience?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

This column was originally published on November 12, 2013.


Katrina Conn

Katrina leverages more than 15 years of cross-channel email, mobile, social, display, and direct marketing experience to oversee the development and execution of StrongView's suite of cross-channel strategic, creative, and implementation services. An established industry thought leader, Conn works with StrongView's enterprise marketer clients in retail, financial, hospitality, consumer services, and media to help them develop, deploy, and measure cross-channel marketing programs and advanced marketing analytics initiatives.

Conn has been in the business of email and database marketing since 1999. Most recently, she served as a senior strategist at Responsys, where she helped brands design and optimize cross-channel marketing programs. Prior to Responsys, Conn served as Director of Client Services for Datran Media's StormPost division, where she managed client services and strategy teams serving brands such as Microsoft, NBC, and Turner Broadcasting. She has held management roles at digital marketing companies Alterian, Donnelley Marketing/Yesmail, and DoubleClick/MessageMedia.

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