Thanks to the smartphone and the evolution of mobile technology, we have a front-row seat into who consumers are. Data – specifically mobile data – gives us the most precise and current view of any individual consumer allowing us to create an extremely personalized user experience.
This proliferation has made understanding the consumer better, but it’s also made consumers more entitled than ever before. Personalization has ceased to surprise and delight consumers – it’s expected and no longer considered a bonus feature or perk of one company versus another. This shift means that personalization is becoming more of a marketing necessity now and must be baked into a brand’s marketing and advertising strategy in order to not fall behind and lose potential customers. So how can brands elevate the experience even more to separate themselves?
Marketing as a service
Marketing has historically been about communicating messages and ensuring it goes to the right person – framing a product and its brand then deciding what to tell that target market. But the next phase that takes personalization into account is marketing as a service – not only targeting your audience but taking the right next step for them.
In this example, the airline needs to move beyond just the initial product. Marketing as a service is about the entire customer journey – the reminder to tell someone to leave for the airport because they’re going to be late, the Uber that’s ordered to get to the airport, the food they get in the terminal and when they’re on the plane. Does the consumer care that you don’t own those experiences? No. They’d rather you partner with other companies to make those experiences seamless for them – that’s exactly why Delta partnered with Lyft. There’s so much opportunity to do more with a consumer’s experience so they feel like you truly know them and have their back, it’s all about connecting the dots for them.
Another example of this is with modern tools like Alexa and Echo and HomePod and Siri. Our devices are turning into marketing services that can do and buy things for us. If you run out of paper towels, you can tell Alexa to buy paper towels off Amazon. If you want to order an Uber, you can ask Siri to get one for you. That is the future of marketing – not only knowing the moment of need for consumers but actually servicing that moment of need for them.
Industries that will benefit
There will be a day where marketing as a service is baked into a company’s overall marketing strategy and becomes a must have. Until then, the industries I believe are ready and ripe for this now are e-commerce, hospitality and travel. Airbnb is a good example of this. With the company’s Experience feature, travelers can discover activities to do in the towns where they’ve just booked their Airbnb stay. So if you book a room in Maui, Airbnb lets you instantly explore relevant experiences and book that whale-watching trip in the same sitting – again taking your trip to the next level. Ford launched a whole service called Ford Pass that’s a great example of marketing as a service. They’re trying to own the journey from point A to point B. It’s no longer just you sitting in the car. They want to know what music you’re going to listen to and what food you’re going to order.
How to apply these concepts
So how do you figure out what your marketing service is? And how do you adopt this philosophy?
• Invest in the cross-device consumer ID. It’s critical that you know who your customer is and gather data so you can actually see and understand them across multiple touch points. Marketing in general is useless if you don’t have a physical view of your customer.
• Talk about the customer experiences when you’re designing. As a starting point, look at the customer journey and analyze that, then enhance the customer journey with actionable moments. That’s really the most important piece to get you from personalized marketing to marketing as a service.
• Create cross-agency functional teams. Brands have always had separate agencies doing separate things – CRM agencies, promotions agencies, creative agencies, digital agencies. CMOs should empower their agencies to work together and encourage knowledge transfer so collectively they can get a better understanding of who their audience is and what their marketing service should focus on.
• Don’t call it innovation. New technologies are emerging that brands are using to market a service such as AR, VR and chatbots. While these are great, they’re being treated as innovation projects internally and are looked at as a gimmick versus core to the business. Brands need to bring marketing innovation in as a part of their product offering and not call it innovation – it needs to be an integral part of the experience and CRM strategy.
As brands seek new ways to gain an edge on competitors and engage consumers, they’re recognizing it’s no longer enough to personalize content – it’s now in their best interest to create experiences that allow consumers to act on that content. That’s the differentiator and marketing as a service is what is going to keep consumers coming back.
This article is by Brian Wong, founder and CEO, Kiip.
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