Brands these days rarely develop isolated strategies for each channel without consideration of the impact, or the ‘halo effect’, optimising one digital discipline will have elsewhere. But only recently can the same be said for marketing based on device.
The concept that you should have a separate marketing strategy for mobile, tablet and desktop is an outdated approach to targeting potential customers and in the affiliate channel especially we often hear of requests for ‘mobile publishers’. These requests, whilst well meaning, often miss the potential value of the affiliate channel; there is lots of traffic available from publisher sites but rarely is it exclusively from mobile devices and why would you want it to be?
In truth, you have a marketing message for any would-be customer and then you optimise that message and experience for the device that your customer chooses to interact with. This may seem like an intuitive, perhaps even obvious, way to approach a marketing strategy and so it begs the question: how did we end up in a position where so many advertisers have separate teams or even specific strategies for mobile-based activity?
Advertisers that are moving towards or have achieved a single customer view are able to innovate in a way incomparable to everything the marketing world has seen before.
The answer lies in the difficulties faced when trying to create a single customer view. Broadly speaking, a single customer view is an aggregated, consistent and all encompassing representation of the data known by an advertiser about its customers.
Ask any advertiser to present you with the information they know about their customers and the first thing you would notice is how the quality of data varies depending on where that data
has come from. Customer relationship management’s on-site analytics and third-party tools would be the typical go-to places for such material and in most cases the depth of insight they possess about a customer varies significantly. Add on top that in some cases the vast majority of sales occur offline and it is understandable why creating a single customer view is so challenging.
Those lucky enough to have consistent data across all their sources face the unenviable challenge of matching it up across their different marketing channels. Take, for example, an advertiser that runs paid marketing channels utilising search, email, retargeting and an affiliate programme.
Each of those channels will have its own analytics suite and all will track differently. Some programmes (such as those on Affiliate Window) have cross-device tracking capabilities, while retargeting will often rely on post-view conversions and paid search is purely click-based. Ultimately, you are left with no universal truth for your customer journeys and most importantly no single customer view.
Although these intricacies make the single customer view an aspiration for many, we must ask ourselves if the disparate approach we see taken is a viable alternative.
Typically, the silos end up being not just device-based, but channel-based too. The inevitable results of competition for budgets, missed partnership opportunities and a “that’s not my department” approach hinder rather than help advertisers and, ultimately, allow competitors to develop an edge by being more agile and channel- agnostic in their approach.
A word of caution though: collating every possible data point on a customer is unlikely to be enough. The information has to be scrutinised with a view to ensuring consistency across all sources and then, more importantly, with sensible data management, discarding the outdated and irrelevant records.
A recent soundbite from Salesforce gave the insight that it takes between six and eight touchpoints to generate genuine customer interest. Ensuring those touchpoints are all collating useful information will be the only way to advance how advertisers market themselves.
It would be fair to conclude that those advertisers that are moving towards or have achieved a single customer view are able to innovate in a way incomparable to everything the marketing world has seen before. Smart frequency capping across multiple disciplines is just the start.
The utopian marketing environment powered by a single customer view has the potential to provide a golden age of advertising in which relevancy and storyboarding have new dimensions. The ability to vary your marketing messages based on the number of times a customer has encountered your brand’s advertising across the entire online ecosystem, and on any device, can help deliver an entirely personalised form of marketing.
It is an absolute certainty that the single customer view will eventually become a reality. The volume of data that is identifiable for each individual consumer is low at the moment but also constantly growing. The evolution of the ‘internet of things’ (in which everyday appliances have an internet connection and share data about how people use them) will reach a tipping point and consumers will overcome their fear of personalised marketing. In fact, they will embrace it by providing even more data than is readily available at the moment, as it becomes clear to potential buyers that the more information they provide, the better their shopping experience will be.
For example, customers will no longer be retargeted with clothes they already bought on a different device or browser. Instead, their cross-device and cross-channel behaviour will deliver them messaging focused on buying again or even reviewing their last purchase experience.
This movement has already begun in pockets; the advent of smart meters in homes allows for personalised energy tariffs based purely on the habits of a whole household, all remotely controlled by mobile devices. The positivity from such an intelligent customer experience is intangibly valuable and undoubtedly something for us all to strive for.
If I could offer just one piece of advice to any company looking to embrace a single customer view, it’s this: prepare your CMS system for external data sources and applications. There will unquestionably be companies out there that will be able to enhance any solution with new data sets much like the world of programmatic – there is definitely no need for everyone to collectively reinvent the wheel.