Are You Marketing in the Present Tense?

December 4, 2013 Katrina Conn

Today’s customer is in control, and marketing today needs to keep pace with the technology-enabled consumer. New channels are becoming important, and the flow of data from myriad of sources is sometimes overwhelming.

Your assignment today, marketers, if you choose to accept it, is to look beyond lifecycle marketing to what we here at StrongView) are calling “present tense marketing.”

Present tense marketing is all about understanding customer context. Interaction data from our customers tells us what channels they choose for engagement. It is some of our most basic data, which any marketer likely has. It tells us what devices they use to connect, along with the activity they conduct, and the details of when and where that activity took place. Many marketers now analyze profile data, which goes a bit deeper to make assumptions about the demographic, sociographic, and psychographic portrait of a customer based on their interaction data. When a marketer combines the first two data sets of interaction and profile with external data, such as weather, stock market performance, or gas prices, they have the ability to identify context that reflects the customer’s current state. That allows them to engage in true contextual or present tense marketing.

On the evolution scale, beginner marketers typically do batch campaigns that have no personalization. Novice marketers, however, build in simple segmentation and personalization, which enhances the value of the interaction with their customers. Followers in the marketing landscape engage in lifecycle marketing using automated or triggered programs. Leaders begin to break away from the pack, employing real-time, cross-channel marketing campaigns that are event-driven. So, a marketing leader might be sending mobile messages to a customer based on location data.

The next level of marketing expertise is the present tense marketer. This marketer executes campaigns, which are state-aware, based on context driven by the intersection of interactions, profiles, and external data sources. This approach brings the highest value because it not only provides the customer with the right message at the right time but takes into account how external factors may influence the customer experience.

For example, a restaurant chain may send a customer an email promotion for a two-for-one lunch deal. As lunchtime approaches, the restaurant may also send a mobile alert showing its new salad choices. But, knowing that it’s 20 degrees outside where the customer is standing at the moment can prompt a more targeted message promoting hot seasonal dishes instead—if the marketer approaches marketing from the present tense perspective.

To achieve true present tense context, marketers must first understand the data that provides the contextual awareness of how and where consumers are engaging with their brand. They must employ an infrastructure that can make contextual connections as the campaign is being executed. Finally, the channels used to engage with customers must be fully integrated so that contextual picture of the customer can be reached and acted upon at the right moment to create great consumer experiences.

As we move into the holiday shopping season, marketers should be asking themselves, “How present tense is my marketing?”

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