How to keep up in the era of digital progression

Technological innovation has transformed the way we work, play, interact, and behave.

Consider this: in 1995, there were 16 million internet users worldwide; today that figure tops four billion. Mass web adoption has driven improvements from healthcare to financial services, but along with this innovation has come higher expectations among consumers for personalised communications, products, and services.

For some marketers, digital disruption has moved too quickly. Alongside opportunities to engage specific audiences, there are also new challenges. With so many touchpoints, it’s become increasingly difficult to follow consumers across channels and devices, and even harder to determine which marketing and advertising campaigns are effective. Little wonder then that 40% are struggling to demonstrate return on investment.

To ensure success, marketers need to embrace measurement methods that offer a precise, and holistic, view of performance.

So, where exactly has innovation taken us, and what can be done to keep up with digital progression?

Losing conversational control

The advent of the internet didn’t just create the “always-on” consumer; it also signaled the end of marketer control over communication. Where previously brands could project messages via a one-way funnel — be that radio, TV, or print — the web allowed consumers to interact with brands according to their own pace and agenda.  It also enabled a continuous, two-way dialogue between brands and consumers through a wider range of touchpoints.

Since then, the development of new technologies – from smartphones and wearables to intelligent personal assistants – has only increased consumer demands for speed and convenience. With the emergence of these devices have come even more ways for individuals to view content, browse products, and connect with brands. In fact, the average consumer uses three of their seven smart devices daily, and 79% even switch from one screen to another mid-activity.

What does it mean?

On the one hand, marketers can now reach consumers anywhere, at any time. And because more and more channels are “addressable,” the data needed to track touchpoints in the consumer journey and personalise individual experiences is in limitless supply. Yet on the other, turning this fragmented, often disparate data into a complete and usable picture of individuals and the influence of each touchpoint can be a hard task; especially when marketers use outmoded methods that measure performance within channel silos or give all of the credit to the last touchpoint experienced by a consumer before converting.

In the days of the one-way funnel, when consumers followed the purchase paths dictated by marketers, this wasn’t a major issue. Today, however, individual journeys are much more complex and virtually impossible to predict. They typically involve a combination of paid, owned and earned channels, each with their own set of metrics for measuring success. For instance, some channel managers may use conversions as their key performance indicator (KPI), while others may use views, opens, likes, or other arbitrary metrics.

This siloed, channel-centric approach leads to flawed reporting and inflated success. Because channel-specific metrics fail to consistently measure the contribution of marketing tactics within each channel, they make comparisons impossible. Is a display “impression” worth more than an email “open”? Is a social “like” worth more than a search “click”? Since each channel has its own KPIs, marketers can’t tell how they are working together to drive desired outcomes. Even worse, multiple channels can take credit for the same conversion or other KPI, leading marketers to double-count metrics.

What should marketers do?

Marketers need a measurement model that works with modern consumer journeys and translates disparate data from addressable channels into a unified performance overview. And this means they require a more innovative and multi-faceted solution that provides granular insight, such as multi-touch attribution.

Unlike siloed measurement approaches, multi-touch attribution evaluates consumer journeys as a whole: combining, normalising and de-duplicating user-level touchpoint data into common set of success metrics and assigning fractional credit to the channels and tactics that influenced a desired action or outcome.

With such detailed information at hand, marketers can finally achieve two goals that are essential to remain competitive: optimal allocation of budget and optimal consumer experiences. Firstly, they can reduce wastage and efficiently manage budgets by only investing in the channels and tactics that successfully reach, engage and convert target audiences. Secondly, marketers can draw on insight to ensure their future campaigns, as well as those already in flight, are tailored for optimal personal resonance — with creative messages, placements, and timing carefully chosen to provide an extraordinary experience that delights consumers and earns their loyalty.

Once upon a time, it was possible for marketers to use the ‘spray and pray’ method and still get good results. But those days are gone. If today’s marketers want to gain meaningful traction — and outshine rivals — they must allocate budgets and target messaging with the precision of a surgeon. And this means utilising advanced measurement methods like multi-touch attribution that can keep pace with today’s empowered consumers. Only by taking advantage of innovative ways to track consumers and performance can marketers place themselves in the best possible position to get ahead – and stay ahead.

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