As marketers we must be as device and channel agnostic as our customers.  Ideally, our marketing would move between channels and devices and experiences as seamlessly as people do their digitally connected lives.   “Customers are constantly connected and they leave ample evidence of their evolving context across a wide cloud,” said Katrina Conn, VP Marketing Services, Strongview in her presentation at DMNews Marketing & Tech Partnership event, entitled Aligning Data & campaign Technologies to Achieve Better Customer Experiences. “The marketers’ actions must be based on deep contextual insights.”

Katrina’s challenge to marketers to embrace a mandate for a  richer, more data-driven customer experience derives from her own marketing technology perspective, but also from the reality of the marketplace.  Customer expectations of branded experience have never been higher, she said. “There are infinite options for people to engage with brands, or to ignore them.  Marketers need to be responsive and flexible in our approach.”

Yet, only 34% of marketers expect to spend more on lifecycle marketing and 38% on more automated and triggered campaigns this coming year, she said, quoting a recent Strongview study.

She advised all marketers to start by mapping out the customer experience created today – and the one you’d like to create.  “Customer journeys are complex, but can largely be mapped, particularly if you include device, non-brand outside forces (like weather!) and channel engagement history,” she said.  “Context is important.  Mapping it as a linear journey from awareness to advocacy is instructive, but usually records how marketers touch customers. What we need instead is the customer view…. a journey that is as matrixed and changeable as the customer experience.”

In taking this “context” approach, Katrina advised that it’s not usually the depth of data that is the problem, it is the recency and value of the data.   “When you achieve a context-based experience, we call this present tense marketing, which very few marketers are able to fully achieve.”  Be aspirational, she said, and add data sets to your insight analysis and messaging approaches so that you can be as close to real-time as possible when the interaction happens.  “This starts with automation, and includes a lot of customer analytics, as well.”

Most marketers have some basics covered in this area, she said, but most have huge opportunity ahead.   “Good contextual marketing is the end of traditional marketing – it’s enablement. The future of marketing won’t be about offers and promotions.  Instead, we will anticipate how to solve problems for people,” she said.

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