By: Patrick Groover
Today, marketing revolves heavily around influencing the consideration stage. In this information age where self-education and research define most of the criteria used to make a final purchase, ensuring that your brand’s differentiated value reaches your audience at the optimal time is critical. Your ability to be top-of-mind throughout the buyer’s journey can be the difference between making or losing a sale.
Brand awareness is the first step in being included in the consideration phase–the start of the buyer’s journey. While it’s certainly vital for your brand to be found, are you able to consistently build enough brand equity to deliver through to the final purchase and beyond?
The Caveats of an E-Commerce Platform
Many consumer marketers have rightly sought out e-commerce platforms to drive revenue, without recognizing that their brand must first establish enough consideration collateral to support a purchase decision. An e-commerce platform enables brands to focus on product management, product placement, in-purchase experience, and cross-sell/upsell. But for those features to be relevant, your brand must deliver personalized, consistent experiences that match your consumers’ expectations and needs.
To ensure that this connection exists, brands must build intellectual and emotional collateral with their target audiences all throughout the customer lifecycle. For consumers who are in the market for a considered purchase, this relationship is especially important since they’re often purchasing products with high risk and reward. To consistently deliver authentic and personalized experiences that guide the buyer journey, marketers need to leverage an engagement platform to listen to, learn from, and engage with their prospects and customers at scale.
In this blog, I’ll cover five features of an engagement platform that allow you to differentiate your brand and keep it top-of-mind, while properly supporting the downstream conversion of purchases:
1. Centrally-Captured Interactions
Interactions with your buyers happen across multiple channels at multiple times. While e-commerce platforms focus largely on product placement, many lack the ability to look more holistically at the entire journey. In the sea of touchpoints, it can be very difficult to know what and when to communicate, or even which marketing channels to use for specific audiences.
Access to a system that will listen to all of the points of interest can greatly improve program impact and optimize marketing spending. An engagement platform will allow you to integrate data from each of the important consumer touchpoints, such as web page visits, PPC ad interaction, retargeting click-throughs, shopping cart abandonment, purchase history, and more, to listen and respond across all of your marketing channels.
2. Tightly Defined Audiences
Once all your touchpoints are centrally connected, an engagement platform will allow you to easily query customer history. Sophisticated systems allow marketers to draw upon interactions and provide deep-and-wide access to behavior-based classification. Rather than simply looking for a specific event, you can set criteria-based thresholds that listen for the quantity and frequency of those interactions. For example, someone who visits your pricing page or information page three or more times is much more likely to be interested in your product than a one-time visitor.
3. Proper Audience-Communication Alignment
The ability to quickly access information, listen for changes in behavior, and respond in real-time through any number of marketing channels is what makes all of the difference between good marketing and great marketing. A true engagement platform allows marketers to deliver these experiences at scale through automation.
Many systems claim to deliver connected, multi-channel marketing; however, they have actually disconnected clouds of solutions that are hard to connect. In contrast, an engagement platform leverages a central and connected methodology for communicating to target audiences through the increasingly complex ecosystem of touchpoints.
After capturing interactions at the front end of the buyer’s journey, an engagement platform allows you to engage your audience with the right messaging through the channels where they are most likely to be influenced. Beyond having access to the right information, you should be able to pass audience membership to the right points of communication at the right time and execute a number of multi-channel marketing natively, such as email, text messages, in-app advertisements, direct mail, or more.
4. Connected Experiences
One of the best ways to ensure that your brand is top-of-mind throughout the buyer’s journey is to coordinate timely, multi-channel nurturing. With the ability to tightly define your audience and capture interactions from relevant touchpoints, an engagement platform can set conditions that automatically adjust the types and timing of content so that it reaches targets with the greatest amount of engagement and personalization.
Marketers today are not only responsible for listening to interactions across multiple channels, but they are equally responsible for reaching audiences through each of those channels as well. Whether it is social media, SMS/MMS, mobile app, website, etc. a true engagement platform makes it easy to define when and where a specific line of communication will reach your target audience based on the latest behaviors.
5. ROI Measurement Across Channels and Programs
Delivering the optimal customer experience starts and ends with data. Many consumer marketers look to impressions as a key measure of campaign success, but they still struggle to understand the total impact of their programs. The reality is that consumers are building a perspective of your brand, with or without your assistance, and a single impression is rarely what leads to selection. Take for example the investment that goes into pay-per-click (PPC) ads and retargeting. These programs require multiple impressions to deliver value, and they must be coupled with tangible, real experiences that anchor brand value in the mind of their target audiences.
To properly identify, personalize, and respond to interactions, you need to be able to measure your impact across channels and programs. The right solution will allow you to categorize engagement, identify the impact, and adjust programs as new insights come to the surface. Consumer marketers tend to leverage three key solutions to understand ongoing marketing impact: Google Analytics, a marketing platform, and an e-commerce platform. Respectively, these solutions represent the initial capture, ongoing engagement, and final conversion. At the core of the customer experience, an engagement platform will connect marketing programs, channels, and results to show where conversions are taking place, providing a full view of the activities that are doing the most to help you build consideration equity.
It’s time to look more holistically at what’s driving total revenue across the buyer’s journey. Pulling together all of the touchpoints and coordinating cross-channel communication is possible with the right solution that connects top-of-funnel marketing, nurturing, audience management, and customer experience.