Marketing to Consumers in the Real World

Marketing to Consumers in the Real World
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By Manu Mathew, CEO and Co-Founder at Visual IQ

This morning, when I woke up with a sore back yet again, I decided it was time to buy a new mattress. So, before reaching for my smartphone to make my purchase, I put on my ‘generation X mobile prospect’ hat. Except, of course, I didn’t — because I’m a real consumer, with specific interests, needs and preferences. In the real world, I’d likely start my research on my tablet, sign up for email sales alerts on my smartphone, and seek out customer reviews on my laptop, before ultimately purchasing in the store with my wife.

While marketers like to typecast consumers into different groups, consumers don’t look at themselves this way, nor is their behaviour clear cut. There’s no longer a singular, orderly path to conversion. In fact, most consumers don’t distinguish between channels or see themselves engaged in a “consumer journey” at all, and almost none fit archetypal buyer personas. Real consumers just want products and services that meet their needs, and they expect their buying experiences to be relevant and friction-free.

To deliver the seamless and tailored messages and content consumers expect, marketers need a complete view of each individual, including their interests and behaviours.

If brands want to engage these consumers, they must start marketing to them with each person’s needs and stage in the buying process in mind. No more strategies focused purely on theoretical segments. Marketers need to build their activities around the messages, content and offers that resonate with specific individuals if they want to drive the best results for their business. But how? Here are two key strategies:

1. Know who you’re targeting

The proliferation of channels and devices has changed the way consumers interact with the world around them. Just like my hunt for a new mattress, it’s not unusual for customers and prospects to jump back and forth between digital, mobile and physical channels on their journey to conversion. Yet today’s consumers are empowered, and they demand a connected and relevant experience wherever they go.

To deliver the seamless and tailored messages and content consumers expect, marketers need a complete view of each individual, including their interests and behaviours. The best way to achieve this holistic understanding of these individual preferences is via people-based identification.

Fundamentally, people-based identification involves creating an anonymous identifier for each individual by combining data held about them in disparate systems, such as their device ID, cookie ID, and offline ID. By reconciling these, marketers can create a 360-degree view of individual journeys and all their interactions with the brand, wherever they take place. These unique IDs can also be linked with demographic, intent and interest attributes from data management platforms (DMPs) and other first, second and third party data sources, to create more complete consumer profiles. Marketers can then group these profiles into high-value segments (affluent moms, repeat customers, loyalty shoppers, etc.) and deliver more targeted ads and messages that are pertinent to each segment’s wants and needs.

2. Understand performance by audience

Understanding consumers is a necessary foundation for better targeting, but it will only get marketers so far. To ensure the messages and experiences they deliver are actually driving the business outcomes they desire, marketers must be able to measure marketing and advertising performance in the context of those key audiences.

Real consumers want a connected, relevant experience that adapts to whichever path they choose.

Going back to my mattress example, it would be important to know, for instance, which email offers, display placements, search keywords and other tactics not only reached me (and other people like me), but also influenced my decision to purchase. Without such knowledge, marketers may find themselves wasting spend by targeting the right people, but with the wrong message on the wrong channel. Such mistakes can result in lost revenue opportunities, or worse, can turn consumers off your products or services altogether.

To be truly effective, marketers need the ability to combine the data they have about their customers and prospects with advanced analytics that provide a comprehensive view of their journey and the influence of each touchpoint along their path to conversion. When audience and measurement intersect, ideally in a single platform, marketers can analyse performance by key marketing dimensions to understand which channels and tactics are effectively influencing each target audience segment to engage or convert. Marketers can then use this intelligence to better allocate their budget while creating more compelling experiences across all touchpoints.

Just as my journey to finding the perfect mattress included multiple channels, devices and touchpoints, real consumers want a connected, relevant experience that adapts to whichever path they choose. To meet these needs, marketers must first understand who they are targeting. Next, they must tie this audience understanding to marketing performance. Only then can marketers orchestrate optimal experiences based on a clear understanding of the messages and tactics that are most effective for each audience. This is the key to connecting with consumers in the real world, while driving the success metrics that marketers care about most.

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