The diversity of technologies available to the consumer has grown massively over the past ten years and, with the plethora of devices available, the amount of data which can be accessed by brands has exploded, according to Katharine Hulls, VP Marketing for Celebrus Technologies, who here examines how and why - given the variety of consumer interaction options and multitude of touchpoints - the customer journey has become extremely fragmented.
While collecting data from a variety of sources can be hard for Marketers to manage, it opens up opportunities to become stewards of the customer journey and provide consumers with a positive, personalised experience, which, as discussed in the previous blog, is increasingly important.
Nowadays, mobile increasingly dominates customer interactions. In fact in 2014, total ecommerce¹ via mobiles in the UK came to £8.41bn, a whopping number which is set to rise to £14.95bn in 2015. So what makes shopping via mobile so attractive to consumers? Well, there is the accessibility to brands - being able to browse sandals or compare loan rates on the commute to work, or click through to a department store sale via an email link whilst in the store, means that the always connected shopper is able to get the best deals at any time.
Switched on retailers are adapting to the new style of customer journey, combining mobile optimised websites with intuitive new processes and excellent customer service. For example retailers such as JD Williams and Co Ltd enable customers to carry bags across multiple websites, an approach that doesn't just make life easy for consumers who want to make one bulk purchase, but also makes it easy for consumers to control the data which they share with a brand that they trust.
In fact, recent research which we undertook with Teradata² into consumer attitudes toward personalisation and privacy highlighted that consumers are particularly concerned about their data being passed over to third parties - just 15% would be comfortable to have the data that is used to provide a personalised experience (such as browsing behaviour on a website or previous purchase history) to be passed on to other brands.
Effective customer engagement requires brands to both understand the customer and provide them with control. Enabling the customer to carry bags across multiple websites as mentioned above, gives the brand valuable information when it comes to marketing opportunities. Just because I looked at red sandals on one website doesn't mean that I didn't then go ahead and buy the same item in-store or even via the call-centre - bombarding me with banners and promotional offers for a product that I have already bought elsewhere is not understanding my own personal customer journey, and could, if continued long term put me off of shopping with that brand, especially if I'm offered a discount which I didn't receive when I made the purchase. (Consider the increased cost of sale if I then decide to return my in-store purchase and use the discounted offer to buy them online.)
The customer nowadays has quickly come to expect and appreciate the benefits of good personalisation; this increasing expectation of the service they should receive is in line with the rise of hyper-adoption. A good personalised experience will be almost invisible to the customer, and will add value to their lives. For example, if I am at the airport and my flight is delayed, a push notification informing me of this, offering me a food voucher and directing me where to redeem it can be extremely helpful and could be the deciding factor as to which airline I book with in the future. The use of digital and particularly mobile marketing is about making the customer journey better, offering messages and experiences to the customer which add value - it isn't about looking trendy or wowing customers with the latest gizmo; today's savvy consumers soon see through those.
To meet these customer expectations, brands need to ensure that they are building insight into their marketing strategies and acting quickly in response to consumers' demands. This can be a complex journey to undertake on behalf of the customer, but with access to the right data and plenty of it, and the use of analytics, marketers can piece together a picture that is clear and concise and ensure that the always on and always connected consumer receives the best experience at every touchpoint.