Spring break is upon us. And so, too, is the endless barrage of ads touting the latest and greatest vacation packages.
While there are certainly shoppers who like to wait until the last minute to finalize their plans, just as many booked their spring break vacation months ago – yet they’re still seeing the same ads from the same travel site from which they already purchased. Not only is the travel company wasting ad spend, it’s missing out on prime opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and build brand affinity by enticing customers with relevant messages at the appropriate time in their buyer journeys.
Research has shown that as shoppers move across channels and devices, their high expectations increase. And it’s definitely a big deal if these expectations aren’t met: According to Forrester, 71% of connected consumers feel negatively toward brands when they encounter inconsistent experiences, and almost 10% say these inconsistencies will make them stop interacting with a brand altogether. Marketers need to take a cue from their hyper-connected shoppers and adopt an always-on approach to connecting data about known customers.
To carry out true people-based marketing, always-on recognition is critical. In other words, marketers must shift away from device- and channel-specific customer identification strategies and, instead, work with a persistent identification solution that can track known consumers across all digital touchpoints.
By their very nature, persistent identifiers are always on. This means that every time an individual interacts with a brand – whether over the period of a few minutes, days or even months – that knowledge enriches the customer’s profile, enabling marketers to more efficiently target and engage real people based on their actions and intents.
Through always on recognition, marketers can extend customer engagement across all channels in real-time, improving the brand experience as well as ROAS. Take our travel company, for example. By employing an always-on approach, the company has the ability to:
- Find customers when it matters: Seeing the entire customer journey allows brands to create an ongoing dialogue with its shoppers. Be there when someone starts shopping around for vacation packages. Be there when the consumer considers an entirely new destination. Most importantly, be there when that person is ready to make a purchase.
- Stop wasting ad spend on the wrong messages: Just as important as reaching customers when it matters is not bothering them when it doesn’t. Understanding the actions and intents of a specific person means knowing when an ad is no longer relevant or, just as bad, was never relevant in the first place. Targeting an ambiguous user concerning a new vacation package on a particular device is a waste when the individual turns out to be a child watching YouTube videos on a parent’s iPad.
- Foster long-term loyalty: Recognizing customer intents and behaviors opens up new opportunities for brands to build brand loyalty by offering more valuable experiences. That money wasted retargeting the travel customer a vacation package he or she already purchased could have been been better spent delighting them with a room upgrade, a spa package or the chance to join the brand’s travel rewards program.
- Enhance addressable media strategies: Consider all the offline data a brand has about its customers. Say the travel company uploads and matches a group of customer profiles with its digital data and discovers that 10% of its Caribbean-loving shoppers match to addressable – or timely, relevant and known – cookies at that time. In the moment, the brand sends this addressable audience ads for Caribbean cruises. However, if this audience group were always-on, the marketer would see when these consumers show up days, weeks or months after the initial upload, allowing the brand to increase its number of addressable Caribbean-loving customers.
Remember, people-based marketing is not about buying impressions; it’s about making the right impression on the people who matter most at the most important times. To create the type of seamless experiences customers desire, brands need to be able to create – and carry on – an ongoing conversation wherever a person may be. The best way to achieve this is through an always on approach to customer recognition.
Originally published March 17, 2016