One of the things I find most interesting about working in digital advertising is that I’m a consumer of the very content I’m generating. My fragmented, even erratic digital existence is emblematic of today’s average consumer. The level of satisfaction I feel in how I’m being messaged can often serve as a barometer for how we’re collectively doing as an industry. I’m a human feedback loop of sorts.
As both a consumer and a practitioner, I feel comfortable saying that brands and marketers must focus their efforts on cultivating and maintaining ongoing conversations that drive lasting relationships. I need the continuity. I need help remembering where we left off. That means delivering the digital experiences that are the lifeblood of these relationships requires that brands understand not just the products and services consumers want, but also understand how I interact across all channels.
Don’t settle for being just a great storyteller. Be a great conversationalist. One of the keys to good storytelling is knowing your audience. That understanding is of no use if you can’t intelligently make decisions against that information and adapt your themes based on our interactions. Educate me; make me think; show me something I have not seen before.
The best brand experiences are those that are so fluid that the consumer feels like they are having a back and forth with an old friend who can finish their sentences. Regardless of the device or channel these messages are delivered through, they are communicated with a familiarity of voice that equally respects a brand’s unique identity, and the personal nature of each individual customer journey. The journey needs to be consistent across all channels.
Marketers must also appreciate ever-changing consumer behaviors. The most visceral way to internalize the mindset of today’s consumer is to simply look at our own digital lives. My digital life is fragmented; whether I’m commuting to/from the office, grabbing lunch or unwinding at the end of the day, I’m constantly glancing at one or more devices. My time reading the news, checking out sports scores or looking at Facebook might only last for a few minutes at a time, but that’s not what’s important.
What’s important are that brand relationships do not play out on a single device or browser. I often check the news on multiple devices. It is up to brands and marketers to respect the singularity of individual brand relationships and connect the dots.
This leads me to my third point: Marketers have to unite cross-device and cross-channel insights in order to truly know their customers. While cookies have historically been the default choice for brands and marketers, they pose a major problem for those trying to deliver the most relevant and cohesive digital experiences. This challenge can be addressed with the use of persistent profiles that respect consumer privacy while enabling the construction of unified and relevant brand experiences. The very best profiles unite a variety of data points and are updated in real time to enable a dynamic, interconnected conversation.
And finally, as a consumer, I need to feel the respect. I want to feel important and valued. The more a brand invests in understanding me, and adapts their messages to my media preferences, the less I feel like a commodity. Ultimately, my value is not determined by how I access the internet, how I choose to browse or even what I choose to browse. Rather, my value will ultimately be dictated by my ongoing relationship with the brand. The brands that are best able to understand my digital behaviors and adapt their messaging accordingly will be best situated to win my next purchase.