Last month I blogged about the impressive growth of always addressable customers among US online adults. We've just seen the data for Europe, and I can confirm what we all knew instinctively: This is not just a US phenomenon. At least one-third of European online adults are always addressable today — and the pace of this evolution is only accelerating.
These customers are exposed to more brand interactions than ever before simply because they're always connected to some kind of digital media. But this doesn't mean you should just push even more brand-centric messages out to them. Instead, the opportunity is to demonstrate your brand promise — not just talk about it — by creating programs that are visibly and functionally useful from your customers' point of view. That's what we call utility marketing.
Last year, in our research about the mobile mind shift, we discussed the five primary strategies you can employ to achieve this kind of utility:
Half of US online adults have reached 'always addressable' status: using at least three connected devices and accessing the web multiple times per day from varying locations. It’s perhaps no surprise that this customer base has grown quickly since we first introduced it in 2012, when 38% of US online adults were always addressable. And for marketers, this is seemingly good news — now you have more opportunities to meaningfully engage with these customers than ever before. So what's the bad news? These customers tend not to trust or pay attention to advertising, and worse, largely find brand messages irrelevant.
There is a silver lining, though. Forty-six percent of always addressable customers don't mind getting emails from companies they've opted in to as long as the offer is relevant, and 27 percent are willing to share information about their interests to receive more relevant advertising. This leaves marketers with a great opportunity to engage with these willing customers, just as long as you embrace customer obsession.
But first, you must accept a hard truth: Your customers are done with traditional, campaign-based marketing. More often than not, customers are interacting with a brand outside of typical campaigns, and it's marketing's job to identify the context of those interactions and build upon them to create new forms of useful, continuous engagement. At the center of this contextual marketing is utility — becoming visibly and functionally useful to your customers. You can offer this utility either organically or transformatively, depending on your level of maturity across four key elements: customer addressability, data maturity, partner compatibility, and digital commitment.
Marketers have paid lip service to customer-centric marketing for a long time. But consumers and business buyers have flipped the conversation from "Oh, they think they know me" to "They better know me, or I'll find someone who does." For brands to be truly competitive in the Age of the Customer, companies must become customer obsessed – or risk losing market share to the competition.
At Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders next week, Forrester analysts and industry speakers will address why marketers must go 'beyond the campaign', to deliver real-time customer value. We'll hear from Jeannine Rossignol, Vice President of Marketing Services at Xerox, who will discuss Xerox’s Get Optimistic initiative. Designed to engage buyers by talking about what they care about (hint: it’s not your brand!), the initiative feeds self-interest with highly relevant, customer-centric content.
In the run-up to Forum, I posed a few questions to Jeannine. Here's a sneak peak of what's to come next week.
Q: B2B marketers aren't typically known for being customer-centric. What was the biggest barrier you faced as you attempted to pivot?
Barriers are just opportunities in disguise (I am an optimist, after all). How you view them can make all the difference in whether you can overcome them or not. Businesses today face unprecedented choice on a daily basis – and to stand out among their options, we can’t just say we’re customer-centric; we have to make them believe it. And for most of us that requires a complete mindset change.
Marketers have more channels to choose from than ever before. But in the age of the customer, people distrust push-style marketing methods that interrupt and intercept them. In fact, 49% of consumers don't trust digital ads; 38% don't trust emails; and 36% don't trust information in branded apps. What consumers want is genuine value from their interactions with brands, but most marketers fail to deliver it.
Simon Fleming-Wood, Chief Marketing Officer at Pandora, is working to crack the code. As he notes, “There is a phrase that I have repeated many times to members of my teams at all of [my previous] companies. Simply put, ‘the product is the marketing.’ First and foremost, products (and companies) succeed if they inspire usage because they effortlessly address a consumer need, even if the consumer did not know they had that need.”
In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leadership Professionals in San Francisco on April 10-11, Simon was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in San Francisco.
Q. You’ve led marketing efforts at a wide variety of companies from big and established like Clorox and Cisco to disruptors like Pure Digital and now Pandora. Are there key things that all brands—regardless of size and industry—should be doing today to stay relevant and top of mind in our hyper-connected world?
One evening in early January, I was stuck at home, suffering through the second in what would become the string of bad winter storms that we’ve all been experiencing. I hadn’t been to the grocery store for the week, and dinnertime was sneaking up on me. I was contemplating the soup that had been in the cabinet for at least 18 months when I received this email from a local restaurant delivery service:
They were delivering! Dinner (plus leftovers) and avoiding the risk of botulism? I was sold.
Clearly this made an impression on me — I mean seriously, I saved a screenshot of an email — and thinking about it now, I know why. It’s because it spoke to me as both a customer and a marketer. This wasn’t part of a planned campaign. The company anticipated and fulfilled an immediate need I was experiencing with the kind of contextual responsiveness we’ve come to expect almost exclusively from social media programs. Delivery Now used the tools and insights already at their disposal to solve a customer problem. Opportunistic? Sure. But it got me what I needed in that moment, so why should I be bothered that they benefit, too?
December 26th at my house was probably a lot like it was at yours: We ate leftovers; we binge-watched shows we’d missed earlier this year; and we played with toys. Not kids’ toys—tech toys. The one we played with most is also the one I spent the most time researching before I bought it: the 3D printer.
Between printing demo pieces and whistles, I checked out my favorite sites to see if any new stories had been posted over the holiday. One of them appears to have implemented a cookie-based content targeting strategy, as both its tech and design sections were packed with headlines about 3D printing. I was pleased to see this attempt at relevance, but it failed in my case. Why? Because it was too one-dimensional.
By just looking at my recent cookies, an automated system could conclude that I’m interested in 3D printing in the abstract. But in fact, I was just trying to learn everything I could in order to make the most informed purchase. If the targeting strategy had taken into consideration the timing of those cookies (I only ever dug into the topic between Thanksgiving and the second week of Dec), my affinity data from Facebook and other social networks, and my long-standing content habits, I would probably have ended up with headlines related to smartphones, tablets, and wearables: things I’m more interested in now that my Christmas shopping is done. 3D printing headlines may have seemed more relevant, but they didn't get a single click from me.
A few weeks ago, my dad and I were talking about the policy on airplanes to turn off all devices from the time the door closes until the plane has reached 10,000 feet.
My point: I don’t have a problem powering down for 15 or 20 minutes. It’s when we get delayed on the tarmac for an hour or two that I get antsy, though lately the pilots seem to let you reconnect while you wait for take-off.
His point: “I don’t see why people feel the need to be connected all the time anyway.”
A predictable response based on generational differences? Perhaps. But what made it a particularly interesting comment is that he said it while using his iPhone to find the least traffic-ridden route home to CT from NJ.
This, then, is the mobile mind shift: The expectation that the info you need is available whenever you need it on any appropriate device — without having to make a conscious effort to stop what you’re doing, decide which device to use, turn it on, scroll, click, etc., and eventually find what you’re looking for. You want to know what the traffic’s like? Here’s the map. You want a table for dinner? Reserved. You want to know the weather? Done.
The result is a customer with extremely high expectations that you must be ready to meet, or risk irrelevance. The key to serving these customers will be to shorten the distance between what they want and what they get; to refocus your marketing efforts to deliver utility at speed; to make your customers’ lives better rather than just making your messaging better.
Sixty-seven percent of interactive marketers are currently using mobile or are planning to start using it in the next year, according to our Q2 global executive survey. That’s great news! But before we celebrate mobile finally coming into its own, we have to acknowledge that mobile is still a new channel with a learning curve that needs to be traversed before it becomes a fully integrated part of brands’ marketing programs.
Here’s some more good news: you know those playbooks you’ve been hearing so much about? We’ve just released one for mobile marketing to help you develop your mobile marketing skills and practices, step-by-step, from the ground up. In this playbook, we’ll help you:
Discover just how important the rise of the always addressable customer is to the development of mobile in our vision module. You’ll learn how to pick the best partners to help you achieve your goals out of a vast landscape of agencies and service providers. And in the coming month, you’ll find out how successful mobile marketers built a business case to secure budget and resources for their programs.
Devices are proliferating, and we’ve all seen the data to prove it: More than half of US consumers now own smartphones, and nearly 20% own a tablet. And it’s not just device ownership that’s increasing. As we’ve been talking about for the past year, people are now connected to each other, to places, to things, and to brands more often and from more locations than ever before. If you're at CES this week, you're going to see even more devices, gadgets, and digital appropriations of formerly analogue tasks that will all help push this evolution along even faster. Whether it's thanks to the FitBit Flex, one of Samsung's new smart TVs, or simply reliable mobile apps, people are becoming perpetually connected. And that evolution is changing more than just the frequency with which we turn to devices: It’s changing how we perceive the concept of connectivity.
Increasingly, going online isn’t something we do. It's something we are. Instant access to information and services isn’t just convenient — it’s how we live our lives. And it’s changing our desires, our needs, our demands, and our expectations. It’s changing how we experience the world.
As more and more of us become perpetually connected and the level of our connectedness deepens, these changes will come more rapidly and be more transformational so that soon people will: