History is rife with tales of once-great companies now struggling to survive, or closing their doors completely (Kodak, Tower Records, and Blockbuster, to name just a few). The cause of their demise? “Digital Darwinism.” Digital Darwinism recognizes the disruptive forces of modern marketing methodologies, digital media, and the persistent need for personalized consumer-centric experiences. Simply put: those who evolve will survive.
No doubt, the new reality is intimidating. New startups come out of nowhere and take down mighty brands, seemingly overnight. The newcomers – e.g., Uber and Dropbox – enter markets acting nimble, hungry, and unafraid to reinvent the way things are done. The consumer, who is no longer paying attention to where a brand used to be, is game for all things digital. She responds to messages that recognize where they are and what they are looking for and never look back. So much for brand loyalty.
But here’s the good news: digital Darwinism is as much an opportunity as it is a threat. It can make brands stronger rather than lead to their extinction. A brand’s future lies in how it chooses to respond to marketing in a digital world, and its willingness to put the consumer back in the center of everything it does.
The Value of Customer Centricity
Why do consumers seem to favor certain digital companies? What’s their secret sauce? The answer is simple. Successful companies understand that consumers value experience. An integral part of the experience is feeling like the brand is addressing the consumer individually.
But here’s where companies can run into trouble: for far too long, agencies and brands have responded to consumers on a channel-by-channel basis. Rather than developing a customer-centric approach to engaging new customers and nurturing them through the buying journey, brands launch multiple and fragmented channel-centric campaigns – mobile, video, social – each of which lives in its own silo. And all the learnings that stem from those campaigns? They’re siloed too.
By definition, customer centricity transcends channels. It requires an omni-channel approach – a more surround-sound approach. I’m still the same person, whether I interact with a brand via TV, in a store, on my PC at the office, or on my tablet or phone on my commute home. And I expect the brand to recognize me.
Brands need to understand who their best prospects and customers are. Admittedly, it’s difficult to follow them as they flit from site to site, device to device, location to location. And then there’s the challenge of effectively measuring the role and contribution of each channel in the path to conversion, loyalty, and brand advocacy. Equally important, brands need clear visibility into the performance of their marketing investment mix – across channels, content, messages, and audiences so they can adjust accordingly. Traditional top-down approaches such as regressions and econometrics are no longer effective. But the industry is making great strides in surmounting these obstacles. More importantly, omni-channel, customer-centric is the future of marketing, and brands that want to stay relevant with customers – and secure their future – need to get on board today.
But once again there’s good news: top brands – and savvy consultants – are discovering the competitive advantage of using a new and disruptive approach to customer-centric marketing. It’s called “programmatic marketing,” signaling the role that technology can play in empowering the marketer to manage all the channels that make up the consumer experience.
Using data and analytics to automate targeting, engagement, and media optimization, programmatic marketing enables brands to more optimally manage their investments at every point in the buying journey.
The result is: more working dollars from a streamlined marketing program so marketers can invest in more strategic projects. But more important, programmatic marketing puts the focus back on the consumer – the people behind the disruptive forces of digital Darwinism. It’s a transformation that in today’s landscape is vital to a brands’ success. You can’t live without it. But fortunately, the technology that enables the transformation is here.
Evolution image on home page via Shutterstock.