If we just listen to consumers, we might actually connect with them

Big data. Persistent ID’s. Empathetic technologies. Artificial intelligence. Automation at scale. All good things —yet somehow, something is still missing.

With instant access to information and the ability to purchase virtually anything from the palm of our hands, often the consumer journey is no longer a journey. It’s an experience that happens in an instant, with a decision that’s made in real time. Engaging consumers with meaningful connections, that they actually care about, has never been more critical.

Still, we “connected” humans are bombarded on average with up to 10,000 messages a day across multiple channels. We switch between 21 screens an hour with an attention span, according to Microsoft, that is just 8 seconds. The vast majority of these messages go unseen and ignored. This can’t be the ideal experience.

Saying that this is a challenge for marketers is the epitome of an understatement. Chief marketers — and others in the C-suite — are striving to crack the code; but they’re struggling to:

  • Harness and make sense of data to get a complete view of the consumer
  • Create the right technology ecosystem through holistic rather than disparate point solutions or tools
  • Wrestle more accountability out of media to optimize spend and lessen reliance on Google and Facebook
  • Develop scalable, repeatable strategies and tactics
  • Execute with an internal structure and team not quite suited to the task
  • Do it all in real time, to connect in those moments that matter

It’s time to simplify all these messy challenges and deliver true, people-based connections that not only drive value for the brand, but also drive value for the consumer. To do that, all we need to do is listen.

If that sounds like I’m oversimplifying, consider: Connected consumers release a constant flow of live, real-time signals telling us their interests and intent.

Every minute there are 510,000 comments posted and 293,000 statuses updated. Throughout any given day there are 5 billion searches. The average person consumes digital content more than four hours a day. All that is telling us exactly what is relevant and meaningful to that consumer in the moment.

Those signals combined with what we know about that consumer identity turn into insights that drive valuable conversations — interactions that last far longer than 8 seconds. Plus, the intelligence it provides us regarding what messages not to send is just as valuable. If we can move past probabilistic, predictive methods and respond to known consumers based on the live signals they send us, we just might be able to spare them a good chunk of those 10,000 messages. Isn’t that a better brand experience?

Despite all our consumer data, what’s been missing is the consumer. Big data is nearly useless if we can’t identify the 2% that matters in any given moment. If we ask consumers, they will tell us.

Stacia Goddard is senior vice-president of product development and strategy at Zeta Global

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