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Marketers: Know Thy Customers—Even the Anonymous Ones

Melissa Puls- Progress

Customers are savvy. Digitally savvy, meaning that the purchasing journey is changing. When buying new products they want to make informed, fact based decisions and there are a multitude of channels delivering unbiased reviews. From Twitter to Facebook to their favourite local blog, they can learn almost everything they need to know online. The UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau’s chief strategy officer, Tim Elkington says, “Britons generate 10 million clicks every day in pursuit of getting a better deal or finding the right product—it’s an utterly ingrained part of today’s savvy consumerism.

Gone are the days when our generic marketing messages bombard all customers irrespective of their unique buying needs. These no longer motivate customer buying decisions as they once did, ushering them from clickthroughs to website purchases. Often, the website is the last stage in an ever growing buying cycle—and this change is only beginning. Generation Z, digital natives who enjoy using technologies and apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, will further disrupt the buying journey.

We can no longer simply be sellers, pitched up in the hope that we will catch a passing eye; instead we must be able to capture the right customer and guide them in their journey. This shift offers unbounded potential for marketers, especially in regards to proving our value and the return we bring on every marketing dollar spent.

In this new reality, the successful marketer will be the one who proactively challenges the current customer point of view, provides new insights and tailored recommendations unseen during the customer’s search efforts. Using customer data, we can now offer much more personalised content across all channels and specific to the actual buying need.

But before we do, we need to ensure we have clarity into who our customer is and what their needs are. Like a master code cracker, we must try to align the Rubik’s cube of known and unknown customer data. The importance of knowing the “unknown customer” cannot be overstated: two in every three interactions across the web are from “the unknown customer,” and we need to account for these too.

The good news is that tracking has evolved far beyond clicks, to now predict what customers are going to click on before they do it, even for the unknown customer. How? Clever technologies based on past known and unknown customer browsing behaviours and persona profiling have achieved this. These technologies take the spaghetti junction of systems that represent typical marketing technologies—CRM, marketing automation tools, social media, website monitoring and programmatic systems—and integrates the customer data sitting within them to build and assign profiles for both known and unknown customers.

It’s an extremely strategic way to gain insight into the consumer and their journey to deliver relevant content, proven to accelerate buyers through the funnel. We also can build both product strategy and customer journey optimization strategies on this insight.

But data is not everything—like many have said before, content is key. And not just any content, but relevant content. Content that is timely, attuned with the topics our specific industry is currently talking about and the topics the world in general is buzzing about.

Successful adoption of all these strategies, helps improve the consumer experience. It is not a case of having a product waved in front of the customers face, but helping them feel as if they have discovered the product themselves. Thus, not only do we secure the sale, but we as marketers gain control once more.