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By Justin Pearse, Managing Director, The Drum Works

April 28, 2016 | 5 min read

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The Drum and Experian have partnered to produce a video series exploring how brands can best use data to know who their customers are regardless of channel or device and understand them better to create relevant conversations.

To accompany the launch of Smarter Marketing: The Power of Data, Colin Grieves, from Experian Digital Media Services, explores the opportunities and challenges for brands in consumers' multi-platform world.

The way in which people interact with brands has changed drastically in the last decade, and further changes are yet to come. We find out about new products and services, make purchases and leave feedback with vendors in an entirely more sophisticated way today than ever before, prompted by widespread advances in the availability and usage of personalised communications technology.

The widely predicted ‘death of the high-street’ has been somewhat overstated in the media coverage we’ve seen over the last few years. In my view there is still clearly a place for the tactile, high street shopping experience.

However, new standards of mobile technology, coupled with ever more demanding customers, will mean that the high-street will need to change to remain a central part of a rapidly changing consumer landscape – and it will need to continue to evolve in order to survive.

To my mind that’s a good thing. Increasingly, consumers are calling the shots, and businesses across all subdivisions need to step up and respond. Those involved in the world of fashion, health and beauty are no exception.

Marketers have always aimed to build great brands and boost growth by engaging with and acquiring new customers. They have looked to retain existing customers and sell more products to them. However, in the last five years these objectives have become far harder to achieve.

An explosion of data

During that time we’ve seen an explosion of data, the widespread accessibility of a high speed mobile internet connection via broadband, and a rapid uptake of smartphones and other mobile digital devices such as tablets. There’s also been a step-change in processing power and a proliferation of new channels via social media, mobile web, digital and on-demand TV. Make no mistake it is a drastically different setting in which to take your products to market than the one we started this century with.

As a result of these developments, today’s consumers are demanding a deeply personalised experience. Empowered by all these new ‘touch points’, people expect a round-the-clock, ‘always-on’ approach from brands – and yet they won’t accept anything that appears to be too intrusive.

It’s an interesting paradox, customers expect a seamless, cross channel interaction with sellers and yet still harbour a deep sense of indifference to any business approach which crosses the line and gets too up close and personal at the wrong time with the wrong message. Clearly, marketers have their work cut out trying to make sure they hit the right note.

Fortunately, the amount of expedient, rich data available means that brands are able to meet the demands of their customers. Thanks to rise of new personalised technology, we can gain greater insight and understanding about consumer’s behaviour and habits, which if used in the right way and effectively, enables brands to strike the right balance between engagement and intrusiveness.

Regardless of what industry you are operating in, your marketers are only ever as good as the data that underpins their plans, ensuring data quality is one important element of getting your interactions with the consumer right. However, this is just one part of the puzzle.

Any successful strategy will utilise consumer insights to better understand who their customers are, what they do and what motivates them. It should also seek to connect with people across all channels, seamlessly and coherently – utilising the right channel at the right time to ensure the conversation is a mutually agreeable experience.

Ready for a cross-channel world

Brands need to be able to respond quickly to the changing times. If they fail to do so the ‘always-on’ customer will leave them for a competitor who is better able to listen, understand and serve them in a cross-channel world.

So it doesn’t matter whether your customers (and potential customers) are clothes shopping on the high street, at home bargain-hunting on their laptop, or browsing on their mobile device for some new shoes on the way to work, today’s consumers expect you to be ready and on-hand to give them what they need in an instant.

We live in hugely exciting times, with a plethora of information and insight available at our fingertips. Finding and purchasing new products and services has never been such an interactive and intuitive experience as it is today.

Things have moved forward significantly in a relatively short space of time and they will continue to improve as the technology evolves, to set new standards and find better solutions for us all.

That really is the beauty of it.