connected customer Archives - Smarter Commerce
The IBM Smarter Commerce Market team will be heading to Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders later this week, where the theme will focus on the Connected Customer. What excites me about this stimulating topic is how it ties nicely …
The simple answer is that connected consumers—those digital natives whose smart phones or tablets are never out of reach and who feel that it’s not just their right but their duty to comment on your brand—are slowly but surely changing the rules of the commerce game. What defines these consumers isn’t a typical, boring demographic like age or income, but connectedness. These are people who are nearly always online and who live a digital lifestyle of constant tweets and Facebook updates.
We marketers seem to be doing a very good job of making our professional lives more complicated than they should be. Consider that as a global group, we’re responsible for spending more than 1 trillion USD each year. A huge …
I’m a big fan of the “We ♥ Logistics” TV ads by UPS. If I’m browsing the web with a television on in the background and that commercial comes on, I’ll often turn my attention to the TV and enjoy the upbeat music, the colorful imagery and the fetching lyrics:
“A continuous link that is always in sync, that’s logistics… when technology knows right where everything goes, that’s logistics…”
And I think to myself, “Suppose marketing could run as effectively as a world-class logistics company like UPS, FedEx or DHL?”
Logistics and marketing have a lot in common. Both need to execute on a global scale of staggering complexity and millions of customers. Logistics excels at delivery. Marketing does not.
Many marketing organizations have anything but the proverbial “continuous link that is always in sync”—they have disconnected processes across multiple channels and fragmented views of customers and the marketing lifecycle. Technology can’t know where everything goes when marketers use siloed systems for email, paid search, mobile marketing and other customer interactions.
Decisions, decisions. They can make or break marketing success. Yet as customers and channels grow more complex, so does decision making. As choices multiply, marketing becomes more challenging than ever.
The days are past when marketers could rely strictly on …
“’Trying to guess what the [mass] audience wants and then trying to satisfy that is usually a bad recipe for getting something good.’”
So says Aaron Sorkin in an interview in this month’s issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Sorkin, as most everyone knows, is the writer behind The West Wing, The Social Network and the movie version of Moneyball. In the case of the quote, he is speaking specifically about the entertainment industry and how an intimate relationship with your viewers inevitably leads to a superior, more engaging product.
But Sorkin’s quote can just as easily be applied to the evolving relationship between businesses and their customers—what I call the democratization of commerce. The fact is that digitally connected customers are using a technology arsenal to redefine the nature of their relationships with the brands that matter to them. It’s wholly unsatisfying for them to engage with a brand that is simply and archaically trying to guess at what they want. These are people whose smart phones are nearly always within reach so as to more efficiently broadcast their opinions across social networks or call up the perspectives of others. By extension, connected customers expect brands to be at least as sophisticated in their use of technology, drawing meaningful insights from customer comments and behaviors, and using them to improve products, services and the customer experience for the larger group.
Consider a recent article in the New York Times about the ways in which connected customers, through their use of social media, have turned the cosmetics industry on its head. How? By turning to social networks to protest loudly and at scale when favorite products have been taken off the shelf. The Times quotes Karen Grant, a senior global industry analyst with the NPD Group, a market research company in Port Washington, N.Y. as saying that social media is “literally reshaping how the market is driven.”
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” So said Socrates. It turns out that the ancient Greek philosopher’s maxim is still relevant for today’s marketers. There’s no point in collecting data on customer behavior if you can’t understand what it …
Good marketing is like a conversation. You have to listen to your customers. In our connected world, that means listening to the data they generate in their interactions with your brand.
Collecting data to build rich customer profiles is an …
Over the weekend, I found myself poring over Joseph E. Stiglitz’s article, “The Book of Jobs,” which appeared in the January 2012 issue of Vanity Fair. It’s a long, scholarly article that constructs an interesting argument debunking the typical explanations for the Great Depression.
In a nutshell, Stiglitz makes the case that the Great Depression was not caused by the Fed’s rather draconian clamping down on the money supply (the primary lesson that Bernanke says he learned from studying the policy of the day), but rather by a social sea change that started on the farms of rural America and spread to the cities. America, says Stiglitz, evolved in relatively short order from an agrarian society where more than one fifth of the population worked on farms, to a manufacturing society. Fast forward to today and according to Stiglitz, “2 percent of Americans produce more food than we can consume.”
Now here’s where Stiglitz’s brilliance really comes through: he argues cogently and deftly that the parallels between the social changes that brought about the Great Depression are similar in their scope to the changes we’re experiencing today. We’re evolving from the manufacturing economy that put so many farmers out of business, into a service economy. He attributes the rise of the service economy to two main trends: increased productivity and globalization.
To these, I’d add another major ingredient, which to my mind is missing from Stiglitz’s argument: the rise of the connected customer. The explosion of social media, mobile technologies, new channels, and unexpected business models, has in turn unleashed a new breed of customer on businesses everywhere. Hyper connected and fully empowered by the sophisticated and ubiquitous use of technology, these customers have evolved into bona fide experts in your brand, products and services. Brian Solis of Alitmeter Group has also written extensively about the rise of the connected customer.