The power of ‘on demand’ marketing

by CXOtoday News Desk    Apr 30, 2013

consumer expectations

Digital marketing is gradually taking over traditional marketing forms and is poised for strong growth in the coming years. A McKinsey article observes that this form of marketing that is becoming critical for businesses, is headed towards being ‘on demand’ and also “always relevant and responsive to the consumer’s desire”.

Peter Dahlström and David Edelman, the authors of the report notes what’s fueling this ‘on-demand’ marketing is the continued evolution of technology and consumer expectations. Take the example of a traveler who expect a few taps on a smartphone app to deliver a full complement of airline services. He uses search technologies for product information. At the same time, leverages social media to compare and rate experiences, and all the while using mobile devices to add a ubiquitous dimension to the digital environment. To survive in this digitized era therefore, most marketers should know how to think through customer-search needs.

Role of emerging technologies

The article points out that optimizing search positioning has become one of the biggest media outlays. Companies are also increasingly using and monitoring activities on social channels, so as to create positive customer experiences and increase customer engagement with their brands.

But the authors believe this is just the beginning. According to them, “The developments pushing marketing experiences even further include the growth of mobile connectivity, better-designed online spaces created with the powerful new HTML5 Web language, the activation of the Internet of Things in many devices through inexpensive communications tags and advances in handling “big data.” Over the next several years, we’re likely to see the consumer experience radically integrated across the physical and virtual environment. Most of the technologies needed to make this scenario happen are available now. These emerging technologies will enable consumers to search by image, voice, and gesture and even discover new opportunities with devices that augment reality in their field of vision.

The McKinsey article believes with the increase of these digital capabilities, consumer demands will rise in several areas. for example, consumers will want to interact anywhere at any time, they will look for innovation through desperate channels in ways that create value for them, they will use data to personalize their experience and they will expect all interactions to be simple. So what does this mean for the enterprise?

The authors state that one thing is clear: the consumer’s experiences with brands and categories are set to become even more intense and defining. That matters profoundly because such experiences drive two-thirds of the decisions customers make, and the rest is driven by price. Secondly, it is also apparent that each company as a whole must mobilize to deliver high-quality experiences across sales, service, product use, and marketing, which very few companies have executed at this level. As interactions multiply, companies will want to use techniques such as design thinking to shape consumer experiences. They also will need to be familiar with emerging tools for gathering the right data across the consumer decision journey. Finally, the marketing organization’s structure will need to be rethought as collaboration across functions and businesses becomes ever more essential.

Setting strategies and building capabilities

The obvious way for enterprises to win over ‘on demand’ customers is to create strategies and build capabilities, according to the authors. This requires coordinated efforts across the enterprise and should be practiced at three levels.

Firstly, designing interactions across the consumer decision journey will be important according to the authors. At present a number of companies have successfully defined and addressed customer interactions across a few channels. However, the authors point out that they should design the entire story of how individuals encounter a brand and the steps they take to evaluate, purchase, and relate to it across the decision journey. Marketing or customer research can’t do this alone. It is the entire team – including all the key personnel and other stakeholders.

Secondly, they should make data and discovery a nonstop cycle. It is of utmost importance to know your customers and their expectations. Accordingly, companies can use these data to reach them with the right kind of communication. According to the authors: “Data lie at the heart of efforts to build that understanding.” It is this data that should be used to define and contextualize trends, measure effectiveness and used to understand key points in the consumer decision journey.

Finally, to deliver these new experiences, executive teams must rethink the role and structure of the marketing organization and how it engages with other functions. The changes are likely to transform the way companies manage campaigns and communities, measure performance, provide customer support, and interact with outside agencies.

According to the authors, “In the entire consumer decision journey, every touch is a brand experience, and those touches just keep multiplying in number. To mobilize for the on-demand challenges ahead, companies must:•    bring managers together from across the business to understand consumers’ decision journeys, to speculate about where they may lead, and to design experiences that will meet the consumer’s demands •    align the executive team around an explicit end-to-end data strategy across trends, performance, and people•    challenge the delivery processes behind every touch point including processes making the best use of your data and interaction opportunities and whether they are appropriately tailored to the speed required and your brand expectations

To live up to this consumer power, organizations will have to constantly leverage emerging technologies to personalize the consumer experience radically. The authors believe that companies are also looking to hire people who can challenge and improve their approach to social media, big data, and the customer experience. Staying ahead of the design, data, and delivery requirements of on-demand customers is much more than a marketing issue, says the McKinsey article hinting that these strategies will be a crucial basis for future competitive advantage and it’s not too early to prepare for these changes.