We live in exciting times: as marketers we have more opportunities than ever before to connect with our customers in a meaningful and engaging way. For many the main challenge is keeping up with the pace of change in a marketplace that is constantly evolving and fragmenting. But while there are challenges, there are also opportunities. And for those who can make sense of this complicated ecosystem, rich rewards are on offer.
Understanding consumer behaviour is fundamental to any successful marketing campaign. In today’s world, people are connected like never before with friends, family, work, even with their favourite brands and this means that the way they shop has changed. Tradedoubler’s research shows that many people now plan, research and buy online and that half (47 per cent) of all consumers use their smartphone as a key tool to research purchases and compare prices wherever and whenever they choose.
Complex technology powers the online world and the myriad of data that comes as a result of tracking customer journeys can be confusing and difficult to understand. As many as one in three (37 per cent) consumer brands don’t know how to use data collected from online sales to inform a targeted strategy. So increasingly, the marketers who succeed will be the ones who can make sense of this data and then harness it to optimise their digital marketing.
Tracking online customer journeys within one technology platform can help deliver vital insights that help digital marketers get closer to their customers. And by using the latest business intelligence tools, it is possible to understand complicated consumer behaviour across multiple channels and devices. Tracking the customer journey provides insight into consumers’ channel preferences and the websites they visit as they click towards a purchase.
This online or journey data can give marketers both high level and granular insights into the role that different platforms, channels, business models and publishers play in influencing purchase decisions. Once they’ve got to grips with these patterns, they can use this knowledge to tailor their channel mix and personalise digital ads to deliver targeted advertising to the right person in the right place and at the right time.
Accurate tracking is key to a complete understanding of an online journey. Cookieless tracking technology ensures that tracking is accurate even on devices and browsers where cookies are blocked. This is particularly an issue on mobile devices and is increasingly important as the use of such devices in making purchase decisions continues to rise.
The data-driven insights gained from assessing a customer’s likely demand for products enables marketers to make smarter decisions. For example, when a customer buys a printer, that’s a long term purchase. But within months they will need other products: paper, ink, or maybe even a shredder. Identifying these customers and targeting them in an intelligent way, with these add-on products, is highly likely to deliver incremental revenue for the smart marketer who understands the value of capitalising on this deeper understanding of customer behaviour.
Soon it will be possible to track the activity of individual people across multiple devices. Consumers today, including many people reading this article, will start a purchase journey on one device, perhaps their iPhone in the morning, pause their journey when they are travelling to work, but pick up the journey once again on their laptop, eventually making a purchase on their tablet in front of the TV in the evening.
Tradedoubler’s research shows the extent of these multi-device, multi-location purchase journeys: between a quarter and a third of smart-phone-owning consumers in Europe go online while in a shop to look for blogs, price comparison and loyalty and reward sites, amongst others so that they can be sure they are making an informed purchase decision. Successful marketers will be those who can harness the insights into this behaviour to deliver targeted communications seamlessly across all devices.
It’s clear that the digital landscape is full of complexities as well as possibilities. The biggest mistake marketers can make is to become paralysed by data complexity. Those who succeed will be the ones who consolidate their digital activity within one technology platform and who are then able to harness multi-channel data-driven insights to develop powerful targeted campaigns that, because they are both personalised and relevant, produce smarter results.
Matthias Stadelmeyer is CEO of Tradedoubler.