In today’s omni-channel reality, people expect a seamless experience from brands across all touch-points, online and offline. This approach transcends multi-channel retailing to connect the web, mobile, and brick-and-mortar channels into a personalized experience. Digital is changing several aspects of our lives. Based on Forrester 2015 reports: 32 percent of total US media spend was in digital (estimated to overtake TV by the end of 2016), $338 Bn US retail online sales (10.4 percent of total) and almost 50 percent of total sales have been impacted by online interactions, last but not least 52 percent of total US consumers time was spent on digital media channels. Cloud based tools for marketers are accelerating marketplace opportunities for companies that have the agility and structure to embrace this new reality.
What are the implications of an omni-channel reality for consumers’ relationships with brands?
The centricity of the consumer journey is shifting marketing focus from building databases to fostering communities by leveraging social and mobile platforms. In the last few years, we have focused on big data: building things like databases, consumer segmentation and predictive behavior. All of these initiatives are still relevant, but we need to shift our mindset towards understanding that the best databases are ones that are available at our fingertips (For example, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) Data from these databases may not actually be ownable, but are certainly quite usable as long as we leverage their data to make better business and marketing decisions.
An important part of our job must be to leverage social databases and their roles in consumer behavior. We do this by not only engaging with consumers when responding to inquiries, but foster a more modern, proactive approach to customer service and support by building our brands and enriching the consumer experience. Our scope is no longer just limited to demand generation; our mission should be building a holistic relationship with our consumers by engaging and activating across all available channels to activate at every point along the customer journey.
"The centricity of the consumer journey is shifting marketing focus"
So just how do we activate the consumer journey? The starting point will always be to develop a deep understanding of the consumer while complementing more deliberate traditional market research with the use of more frequent, real-time social media listening and analysis. At Nestlé Waters North America, we leverage Salesforce.com solutions, to understand: conversation topics, share of conversation by social platform, tone, consumer sentiment, roles and customer engagement rules by media touchpoint. This understanding is enabling us to define the right opportunities to engage consumers with content and the right calls to action by online and offline touchpoints. We are leveraging our marketing cloud platform to offer consumers a truly personalized experience.
This new reality is blurring boundaries between marketing, sales, customer service and IT, requiring an end-to-end approach that will transform the entire business for the digital world, rather than merely adding incremental online revenue. Based upon our experience, there are 3 key enablers for success to activate a personalized consumer experience: 1) Manage digital operations end-to-end by integrating digital, social media, and eCommerce into an eBusiness organization unit. This combines different teams with complementary roles and one common denominator: a relentless focus on the consumer journey. 2) Accelerate a shift to digital media vs. traditional media in accordance with the opportunity of each brand’s consumer targets. 3) Adopt a ‘learning by doing’ approach by accelerating the speed to market and not worry too much about perfection, but rather place emphasis on speed.