Why Your Cross-Channel Marketing Needs to Live in the Present…Tense

  |  February 18, 2014   |  Comments

Customers have constantly changing needs and they expect instant gratification regardless of the engagement channel. If you're not aware of your customers' present-tense context, here's what you're missing.

Consumers live in the now. They have constantly changing needs and they expect instant gratification regardless of the engagement channel. If you're not aware of your customers' present-tense context, here's what you're missing:

1. Reaching your customer at the moment they are most inclined to take action, on the channel they are using at that moment.

Imagine a consumer who has previously purchased from you - you know the what, where, and how of their purchase. You also know how they prefer to engage with your brand, whether it's online, in-store, via mobile app, or even through your social sites. This answers the "where" should I engage them part of the contextual equation. Now, you have to understand the "what," or the purpose of their engagement, which can always be identified (or at a minimum, inferred) by their behavior. Were they browsing certain products or information, comparing features, functionality, or pricing, or reviewing terms of service or support information? Each of these behaviors answers or indicates the "what" or their goal. The key here is the where and what are dynamic, sometimes changing moment by moment. You need to respond to your customer's present tense context in the here and now, in real-time before it changes.

2. Providing them with additional information that syncs with who they are and what motivates them.

Who are you messaging? Are they a returning customer or potential new one? What do you know?

What does their profile tell you? Just because the police aren't allowed to do it doesn't mean we can't and shouldn't. Customers expect us to know what they want and need.

A current profile tells who you are engaging with and what they want. Figure out who they are, what makes them tick, what their pain points are, what problems they need solved, what they've tried but hasn't worked, what they value, how they spend, how and where they purchase, what will motivate the desired action.

If you understand "who" they are and "what" will motivate them to take action, this insight will drive the right messaging and create an action-based experience. If you truly listen to your customers, they'll listen back and thank you by taking the desired action.

3. Understanding your customers' buying stage and providing information to help them take the next step.

Decision and buying cycles are being compressed. The attention span of a customer has decreased dramatically, and any brand loyalty is being challenged by competitors offering the right information to provide ease of use and convenience. A successful company needs to reinforce the value it provides to its customers on a continuous basis and during all stages of any buying cycle - from research to comparison to trial and finally purchase.

In addition, the time between when a customer has a new desire and when they expect companies to meet that desire is also shrinking. If you don't react quickly enough, the customer will find someone who will. Have you ever been in the situation where there were so many options or you didn't have enough information to make a good decision? Sure, we all have, but what was the one thing that made you take action, or go in one direction vs. another? Typically, it comes back to ease of use and availability of information and convenience to take that next step.

Most marketers understand the value of collecting customer data, but they also realize the challenges of leveraging this knowledge to create intelligent, proactive pathways back to the customer. Applying a present-tense marketing strategy addresses consumers' high expectations, including the immediacy of information and service. However, it requires a real-time view of the contextual data to understand the when, where and what to provide in response to the customer's need. Recognizing and tracking patterns within data helps businesses sift through layers of seemingly unrelated data for meaningful context, where they can anticipate, rather than simply react to, customer needs.

Your customers are living in the present tense. Your marketing must meet them there.

Image via Shutterstock.

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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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