For the majority of brands, media acts as a key communication touchpoint for their customers. However, all too frequently, media channels are configured solely with the purpose of acquiring new customers and they sit in isolation of wider comms strategies.
Consumers don’t see it that way. They believe that every interaction they have with a brand is part of their total customer experience (as outlined in this year’s Merkle Marketing Imperatives) – and that includes digital media.
Given the ever-growing martech and adtech landscape, all businesses need to adopt a more personal approach to media, enabled by data. Only by adopting this approach (more traditionally associated with CRM and direct marketing) in your media activation can you really start to deliver a coherent and consistent experience for the customer.
A personalised approach to marketing puts the customer at the centre of how you plan your comms, how you execute and how you measure effectiveness. Touchpoints matter when you are planning your digital campaigns. They’re important to new customers who require a seamless onboarding journey, but still more so to existing customers, who rightly demand brands contextualise their communication based on the history of their relationship when presenting new campaign messaging or withholding it from them.
Total customer experience
In order to navigate this effectively, a deep understanding of your customers via the data they share through every interaction they have with you is critical. This practice has been prevalent with CRM and direct marketing programmes for years, where multiple levels of rules are layered on data to establish who to communicate to, when customers should be approached and how frequently that should happen.
The total customer experience is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ – if you’re not delivering it, your competitors and disruptors will be. And without media driving it for every one of your audience right from the start of their journey with your brand, it is unattainable.
Media functions must now learn from leading CRM teams and follow similar principles as they plan their media strategy in greater harmony with their wider marketing departments. As traditionally seen with CRM, connectivity is key to impacting the total customer journey and this will never be improved in silos. Integrated technology and working practices are what is needed to ensure media delivers the total customer experience from start to finish (or rather, to close the loop for each customer and begin over again with retention).
Put customers at the heart of strategy
It’s also clear to all marketers that media’s ability to drive the total customer experience is reliant upon a commitment to carefully consider the quality of your brand’s data, how you collect it, how it’s analysed, and how you deploy it. Maturity growth here needs consideration of technology, benefits and limitations of each media channel, regulatory issues, legacy systems and ongoing focus on measurement and objective-setting – but amidst all this technical complexity, it’s vital not to forget your customers and their position at the heart of your strategy.
Your knowledge about your individual customers should be utilised to optimise every interaction your brand has with them. See it as a privilege that customers share their information with you, because legislation changes mean that the power to control who has that data is quite rightly going to be put back in the hands of the customer.
The adoption of CRM principles to drive your media development will help to boost your whole marketing capability and more importantly the experience that each and every individual customer has with your brand. In doing so and evolving your relationship, customers will appreciate the value their data provides and continue to be generous with it. Overcoming the obstacles that you face will deliver rich rewards in terms of advocacy, satisfaction and retention – we see it every day with our clients.
Niyi Duro-Emanuel is vice-president of solutions at Merkle EMEA.