By Ben Langdon, Chief Executive, Digital Marketing Group
A revolution has begun in direct marketing, and the traditional model based on targeting consumers using available offline data is being replaced with a far more dynamic and relevant approach; one which has the potential to change the way we communicate with consumers forever.
Specifically brands have begun to recognise that online behavioural data, when harnessed correctly, provides significant insight into what the individual consumer is interested in – in real-time.
The opportunity for brands is in the amalgamation of key data from both offline and online sources. Bringing together online data (such as what a consumer is looking at on the site) with known offline data (such as their purchasing history) can generate web content, an email or a mobile message that offers information relevant to the customer at that exact time.
Using real customer knowledge to drive the personal customer experience is a great example of what we call a ‘positive interaction’ – for example, if the customer hasn’t made a purchase for several months or perhaps often gets as far as adding something to their basket but not completing the purchase, an additional incentive could also be included to help persuade them to buy.
To achieve this, real-time data generated online needs to be married, in real-time, with data collected offline and used with analytics to determine the next message and deliver it, resulting in an interaction with the consumer that is relevant, timely, and that supports a positive interaction.
A purpose built analytical tool or decision engine can be created to combine existing offline data with real-time generated online data begins to illustrate the potential of a semantic approach.
Dubbed a form of ‘digital brain’, this concept is designed to mirror the human brain in its ability to consider a variety of data sources when making the decision as to the best way to interact with the consumer at that specific moment.
Firstly the digital brain identifies the customer who is generating fresh behavioural data, perhaps interacting with the brand’s website. Generally with the customer’s permission, it then mines the offline database to access all other information available on the customer, such as measures of their purchasing history, demographic information and channel preferences.
Algorithms are used to link these data sources together, resulting in the engine identifying the most appropriate communication and the most relevant channel of delivery.
The instant outcome could present personalised web content to an individual user - perhaps highlighting special offers or product bundles that the customer favours.
Another option includes directing an email to the customer about the product they’re browsing, encouraging them to purchase and offering an incentive based on their past purchasing behaviour or instigating an outbound phone call offering the customer help and advice on their purchase, based on the call centre operators’ knowledge of past online and offline behaviour.
Marketers could also send a digitally printed and personalised mail pack including a brochure, based on the customer’s ordering habits and preference for a ‘mail order’ approach.
The possibilities for such an approach are only limited by the data available, and the available types of interactions put in place by the brand.
A bank of interactions from differing web content to email executions is vital in truly realising the potential of real-time interactions, and over time brands can increase their variety of approaches to suit every possible outcome.
In a sense, the way this decision engine operates is as much a new marketing philosophy as it is a new piece of software.
If a synapse is defined as “the point at which electrical signals move from one nerve cell to another”, this new philosophy should be dubbed ‘synaptic marketing’ because of the way all available data is instantly linked together to derive a decision, just like in the human brain.
And the decisions that are made and interactions assigned then become a ‘memory’ of how and why the customer has been communicated to, further improving subsequent real-time decisions and interactions.
Consumer apathy to traditional marketing, and the way digital channels and the internet specifically has brought instant communication to the fore, mean brands must change the way they approach marketing.
Synaptic marketing has the potential to revolutionise the way brands interact with their customers, offering a means of humanising the interactions between brand and consumer, even if an artificial intelligence is at its heart.
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