We're quite literally swimming in a sea of data. We have the ability to collect it from every consumer touch point we choose, whether it's website activity, cookies, socialgraph information, direct marketing database, in-store or using other third party tools.
There is no shortage of data, but what does your business do with it all? Is your brand using big data to enrich people's lives? Or is it just used for more "accurate" ad targeting?
It probably depends on how your business is structured and where you sit, or how you employ your agencies. Do you consider the entire consumer journey, and understand how your product and services enhance the lives of existing customers?
Or are you only concerned and targeted on achieving high advertising click-through rates and low cost per clicks?
There is a balance to be struck, and one of the biggest challenges facing brands and agencies today is to ensure they really do have the right intentions at heart. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of using all the insights derived from the various data sources to construct "relevant" marketing messages to interrupt people with the aim of persuading them to buy stuff.
This interruption, even if deemed relevant by the business, maybe unwelcome to the consumer and could tarnish your brand.
Read on, if you feel you, as a marketer, may be falling into such a trap.
The customer journey, the relationship and experience between people and brands, has been the subject of much theorising for some time.
There are a number of cognitive models, outlining the thought process people undertake; most of which are quite linear and logical. The vast majority of these stop at the point of purchase. This, by definition, cannot be “customer journeys”; isn’t a “customer” someone who has already purchased?
Then there are some, which go beyond purchase and introduce the concept of the "loyalty loop". It is perceived that people will remain loyal if they have a great post purchase experience with the product, offering and brand interaction.
Which of course makes complete sense….as do all the descriptions and commentary based around these models.
Unfortunately, they are all wrong...
Knowing what people have done is ok. Behavioural data, as interesting as it is, is a lagging indicator. It's a bit like sitting in a car and looking out of the rear window...you can seen where you have been, but not where you're going.
Apply this to an online/social web environment and analytics (onsite and buzz monitoring) provide us with the rear window perspective.
But what if you could find out why people behave in a certain way? What their objective is; how they associate their identity with brands, their own personal values etc. This would give you a much more powerful set of information, wouldn't it?
Are we on the verge of seeing a rebellion? As we know more and more people are adopting various elements of the social web as part of their daily lives.
The Twitterati is no longer just made up of social media geeks and gurus and celebrities; many other "normal" people are now joining the ranks, some of whom may not be considered social media "savvy".
They may not realise that their tweets and conversations, aimed at their friends and followers, a limited circle of people, are being picked up by all the social media monitoring tools. In simple terms they may not know that their conversations are being listened to. In fact, some people may even be appalled by this.
Imagine, if every conversation in a pub, coffee shop, meeting etc. could be monitored and then filtered to specific brand conversation and sentiment relevant to you, would you use this technology to improve your offering? Probably not. I think the outcome will result in three things, for the betterment of brand and consumer interaction.
By now, the @VodafoneUK story which broke on Friday afternoon is, to many of us, well known. However, has this really damaged the reputation of the brand or has it had the adverse affect?
On Monday, @Lakey (Can you see how we're now using Twitter handles instead of names. Most odd) wrote an interesting post on the story which encouraged Dan, a Vodafone representative, to respond, and fair play to Vodafone for doing so. There is mixed opinion about how well Vodafone handled the aftermath because there is no fixed "process" on dealing with such situations.
However, I believe something really positive has come out of this, which may benefit Vodafone and other organisations embracing social media...
Imagine logging into your email every Monday morning to find a report clearly outlining the value derived from all the time, effort and resource you’ve expended on the social web. That would be nice wouldn’t it? Seeing what impact of all that faffing about in Facebook; Twitter twaddling and blog blabbing has done for your brand would be invaluable.
But what would you want to see (at a high level) in such a, currently fictitious, report? And who is best placed to provide it to you?
Such a report would certainly save a lot of time. The process of collecting and correlating data from several sources; then trying to make sense of it all so that it can be used to plan an effective brand engagement strategy is time consuming to say the least. For what it is worth, this is what I’d like to see.
Stephen Fry, a couple of weeks ago, decided to stop using Twitter. He was offended by one of his many followers calling his tweets “boring”. Thankfully, he is back and even though he was annoyed by the comment he has since DM’d the chap who made the criticism, and we are led to believe everyone is happy again and normal service has been resumed.
In a similar, but much less grander scale, I was nominated as “Pr*ck of the Year” on Twitter; have being associated with a pregnant goldfish; and had both my intelligence and parenthood brought into question. This was all down to a blog post (not on Econsultancy I might add) in which I had written about how a political party was using Twitter at their party conference.
Many organisations have been on the receiving end of similar comments, which stick around for sometime on the web. But is there anything that organisation can do to tap into this behaviour and turn it to their and their customers' advantage?
I received an email the other day, which caused me some significant concern. It was a request, which came out of the blue, asking me to consider to be paid for featuring certain content on my personal blog.
For me, this is a very unwanted and somewhat scandalous approach and I sincerely hope other bloggers feel the same way. If you think about it, it is a very seedy means to encourage independent people who take the time to blog about subjects they care about, to succumb to the incentive of money.
Typically, the hardest thing about a "habit" is to try and stop it... it takes 21 days at the least, apparently. Habits are viewed as negative; the word is usually being associated with vices and things that are bad for you.
Well, have you ever thought about how to start a habit? One that is good for you and your business?
Having worked with a number of organisations to help them integrate the social web into their existing customer communications strategy I've learnt that the hardest thing isn't the ideas, the approach or the social medium to use; the hardest and biggest challenge is "change". There is a definite requirement for businesses to adopt and adapt; they need to own and be responsible for managing the social media engagement and not to treat it as separate channel. Some great ideas have crashed and burned because of this, so here are a few ideas to help organisations thinking about; or those who are struggling with their whole social media engagement approach.
Ever started a round of applause? if you have, you'll understand that weird sense of satisfaction you get by doing so. In fact, I've sometimes felt the need to tell people about it. How sad is that!
A much better game is to see if you can actually achieve the last clap of a round of applause; my six year old daughter wins that game every time.
Anyway, can a single Tweet have a similar contagious effect? Is there something that can be done to enhance its attractiveness. make it retweetable and build up a crescendo of intense internet noise?