How marketers can improve the consumer journey: Top 5 takeaways

Online shopping, Robbert Noordzij via Flickr

Data and technology are crucial to personalising the customer journey, but challenges remain. Marketers have to grapple with connecting shopper data across multiple digital devices, serve consumers with relevant ads as well as anticipate future shopping behaviour.

Programmatic leader WPP’s Xaxis hosted an event with digital retail media expert Triad Retail Media to discuss some of these issues at the Wynn hotel in Las Vegas earlier this month. Running alongside the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the day consisted of panel sessions and presentations with high-profile speakers from Mastercard, GroupM and Walmart amongst others. Below are five takeaways from the event on how marketers can improve the consumer journey.

Data is important but reach and frequency matter

One of the biggest challenges faced by marketers is connecting data across multiple channels and devices and then activating that in the marketplace. Alec Schleider, senior vice president of sales strategy and data analytics at Videology, said it is important to understand a consumer’s consumption across TV, video, and other channels and then to apply that data in a meaningful way so the advertiser can tell when the audience is consuming this content. “The best outcome is [finding out] who the audience is and at what level of reach and frequency. Reach and frequency is what we see matter most for driving brand intent and sales,” he said.

Creative agencies are an opportunity not a threat to data

Generating the right creative is still problematic across the industry, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Data and technology can be used to improve the creative output and make it meaningful to an individual, something Diaz Nesamoney, president and CEO at Jivox, has been doing with his company.

“Why do you see ads for something you just brought? What purpose do they serve? Nothing,” said Diaz. You can try to reach five million people with five million creatives [even though] each of them think differently. We said let's approach it through technology. We don’t look at just one piece of data but all the pieces.”

Use data to examine past behaviours and predict future ones

Marketers can use data to better understand their consumers, but data analysis can still prove tricky when it comes to defining and targeting an individual’s identity and interests. Global payments and technology company Mastercard is relatively new to data analytics and spends a lot of time thinking about the impact of digital on offline behaviour and how that all stitches together.

“It's important to understand the audience and people that are actually shopping and look at their real behaviour. You are what you spend,” said Jay Sears, senior vice president of media solutions at Mastercard. “Think about what you can do in terms of historical behaviours but also [how to use] data science to predict future behaviours. Then you can actually measure real ROI.”

Sometimes you must create data yourself

Improving the shopper experience sometimes involves thinking outside the box. When it comes to learning what is happening in the digital world in a physical location, Brian Spencer, vice president and media director at Geometry, helps advertisers “create data where none exists.” He gave examples of using geo-fencing technology to target people with relevant ads as soon as they enter the retailer.

“We did that recently for a customer where we did moment-based messaging to people where we know, based on data, they are probably [low in stock for their dog food] and it's time for them to do a stock-up trip at their pet specialty retailer. We are able to remind them of that special offer when they enter the retail location.”

Don’t tackle the data challenge alone

Not every retailer has the data resource capabilities that the likes of retail giants Amazon and Walmart have. This is why partnership is key in the industry. Triad Retail Media’s global chief customer officer, Sherry Smith, noted: “When we bring brands and retailers together, their combined data helps us better understand the shopper’s journey. That’s what really allows us to better serve consumers with a valuable custom experience.”

Triad Retail Media, acquired by Xaxis, helps retailers utilise and optimise their data for better insights into customer behaviour and connect them with brands for a richer experience in the purchasing journey. And for WPP’s chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, it is partnership and greater transparency all the way as the wider industry’s “ability to deal with these walled gardens is quite limited".

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