This post was originally published on Adweek.com and can be seen here.
Marketing to a consumer as they journey through your brand on their devices offers new opportunities. Each device can be accompanied by a unique experience that is both different from other devices and a continuation of the same customer journey.
For example, let’s say you’re preparing for a big hiking trip later this month and you need new hiking shoes. The thought that you need new shoes occurs to you while in a meeting, and you quickly pull out your phone and bookmark the website for later. After the meeting, you pull up the website, begin browsing shoes and put a few options in your shopping cart to review later.
Because you’re a busy person, you shop for hiking shoes when you can during your day, sometimes on your phone, sometimes at your desk and sometimes on your tablet. This process may become frustrating when you visit the site from your home device, only to find that your bookmarks have disappeared and your shopping cart is empty.
When an organization recognizes that customer data is tied to people, rather than devices, it can create personalized experiences across channels. The experience then becomes more fluid while still being unique for each device. That is, if you (the marketer) can understand who is shopping and what is happening where, then you can create a continuous experience across devices that is catered to optimize the experience by device. However, it can be extremely difficult for brands to track and understand how customers are behaving across devices.
While we have understood for a while now that cross-device and cross-channeltracking is crucial to understanding consumer behavior, actually understanding that data has been much trickier. Data measurement today is centered on measuring devices, which is only part of understanding this data. We need to move to a place where we’re measuring at the people level, not just a device that could be used by an entire household.
In the end, it really comes down to changing the mindset of your organization from unique device views to a people-based strategy.
This is why data-management platforms are on the rise. Brands are able to gather first-party deterministic cross-device data and aggregate it in a DMP, which gives way to better audience targeting and personalization without needing to pursue a degree in data science. These tools are user friendly enough that they can be democratized for non-data personnel throughout the organization.
Ultimately, understanding what customer behavior looks like across multiple devices and channels leads to a more efficiently allocated advertising budget. Additionally, when that budget is based on authenticated profiles, you can rest assured that your data is accurate.
To really achieve the full benefit of cross-device data as a marketer, it is crucial to have both deterministic and probabilistic solutions. More than that, you need to have deterministic data at scale. Being able to really see and understand what is happening based on actual data and trends is a powerful thing. When your team is confident that its choices are the right ones—and it can prove it with data, graphs and charts—it will be in a better position to make the choices that are best for your organization.
A key component of instilling this type of often-overlooked confidence in your marketing team is a sense of integration. Often, you will see brands reporting on a single channel as a stand-alone piece of customer intelligence. While this is always insightful, it is not a robust picture.
Unfortunately, brands do not always have another choice. Sometimes, they report on a single channel alone because there is simply no way to integrate or stitch the data with other sources. With a greater sense of community among their data systems, marketers experience an even greater sense of confidence in their abilities to craft strategies that work.
So now that you have the right focus on your data, as well as a marketing team that is confident in its understanding and analysis of that data, you are all set, right? Unfortunately, there is one last piece to this puzzle, and that is the consumers themselves. Things always come full-circle back to the consumer.
In this day and age, consumers know that a ton of data on them exists. Even so, they do not always like to be reminded that brands are actively working to learn more about them so they can influence their purchasing decisions. While we see this is a good thing (who wants to see irrelevant ads?), consumers can sometimes feel that their privacy is not being respected.
Transparency will help your customers trust you and trust that their privacy is not being voided. It’s important to also note that user identity is never disclosed among co-op members. The only data shared is device links that are used for first-party benefit.
Therefore, it is important to make your privacy team your biggest asset when starting this process. Getting it involved from the start will help you to understand your customers and approach them in a way that is targeted to them while also respecting their privacy concerns.
In addition to saving you from creating awkward relationships with your customers, your privacy team can keep you out of potential legal situations in the future. It really is your biggest ally here, so make sure to utilize it early and often.
Preparing for the future
Cross-device reporting is a need that is not going away. Getting the right tools and teams in place will allow you to get ahead of the game. Understanding and crafting messages that will resonate with your consumers only becomes more important as time and channels evolve. Start optimizing your cross-device analysis capabilities today, and you will put yourself in a prime position to lead the competition.