Defining Moments in Digital Marketing

October 21, 2013


It has become easier for consumers to connect their own activity across multiple devices. Helping them do the same thing in the context of your brand, products and services is still a work in progress.

By Ben Watson

In this three-part series, Ben Watson, CMO of WhatsNexx and formerly VP Marketing of HootSuite, takes us on a journey through the evolution of context-aware technologies, user experience, customer experience and big data to inform how marketers collaborate with customers as both artist and scientist, bringing the religion of creativity and the discipline of science to the future of the brands we represent.

In today’s ever-evolving customer journeys, we as marketers must truly be equal parts artists, scientists and collaborators on the moments that are created by and owned by our most important benefactor, the user or customer.

As artists, we want to visualize and experiment to improve each and every moment with our customers. But a wall of complexity, made up of digital silos, remains around how we intelligently scribe, stitch and simulate the signals from those moments into journeys that are both unique and personal, as well as how we create an aggregate view of the ones that work best.

Doc1As scientists, we seek to break down the silos into individual bricks of meaningful interrelated data and we document, visualize, simulate and experiment with our learnings and shape them into thesis and into successful, repeatable models.

As collaborators, we as marketers must work together on common goals, ensuring that customers’ expectations are met and their experience is optimal. Buy and sell, market and consume, message and evaluate; ideally, these are treated as simply different perspectives of uniquely incented collaborators about the same set of goals.

Putting things into perspective

If you follow Forrester’s thinking around multi-channel, it is clear that C-level executives need to seriously consider the disruption that context-aware technologies now have on purchasing and loyalty behaviour. Gartner identifies context-aware technologies as the ones that influence consumer purchase decisions by using information about the consumer’s context (e.g., location and interests) to offer more-relevant promotions, content and recommendations.

Smartphones and tablets armed with context-aware apps influence consumer spending as much in non-electronic channels (e.g., in physical stores) as in e-commerce, and the technology is increasingly being used to shift consumer spending from one competitor to another. The customer journey, when taken into consideration at any specific touch point, must be considered in the context of that moment.

Defining Moments – n. A point at which the essential nature or character of a person, group, etc. is revealed or identified.

Defining Moments – v. Identifying an occurrence that typifies or determines all related events that follow.

The era of great digital experiences is itself a Defining Moment for marketers, where we sit at the culmination of three maturing trends: the rise of and focus on user experience, the consumerization of IT and devices, and our ability to measure absolutely everything.

I’m on a horse. You knew that, right?

Let’s meet a user and their context. In the same way the breakaway Old Spice commercial imagined how women might like to see their men on a horse in a shower on a beach, customer experience and marketing professionals should be constantly studying and learning each segment of their audience and the unique needs, desires and motivations that each segment represents.

Collectively, marketers have gotten better at allowing users to manage their account, their profile, and even how they share their activity with other customers or users of a product or service. We also have learned to consume that same data intelligently and to understand patterns that emerge, and to express outcomes and opportunities based on this context. Any series of customer moments that is repeatable can be expressed and managed as a pattern. For example, acquiring a new credit card can be expressed as a series of moments such as Search, Consider, Compare, Apply, Verify, Approve, Configure/Activate, Use, Get Rewards, Redeem Rewards.

It’s me, and I want it all now, of course

I have a MacBook, an iPad, an iPhone and Apple TV (brand loyalty 101). Aside from the hours that we spend connected for work, the average consumer also spends 4.4 hours of leisure time on some type of screen, according to Google. Can you imagine the trail of cookies and digital crumbs that I alone am leaving for anyone who cares to follow? Each interaction is a defining moment that characterizes me as an individual – perhaps demographic, psychographic or ethnographic and, oftentimes, all of the above.

The screen and device I choose should always inform some aspects of context – where I am, how much time I have, my state of mind – and as a consumer I move seamlessly between screens. My chosen channel for the interaction, the device I use, my location, the frequency of my visits or use, my value as a customer, my unique path and potential roadblocks, and any physical world connections to my experience all inform your ability to connect the facilities that enable this. Then couple this to other relevant information –such as buying history, contracts, support cases, and any other information that characterizes our relationship – that systems are already capturing and documenting explicitly about all the other people like me.

So, the takeaway of this story is this: unless your systems have the ability to both describe and understand the circumstances in which my interactions take place, while you may be listening, you are certainly not able to hear or respond to what I am actually telling you.

In the next article in this series, I will dive into leveraging context awareness to help define specific moments and manage those moments as patterns in an omni-channel world.

Ben WatsonBen Watson, CMO of WhatsNexx, is a trusted expert in marketing technology and in the agile delivery of platforms and campaigns that define exceptional customer experience. Formerly the VP Marketing of HootSuite, and a Principal Customer Experience and Enterprise User Experience strategist at Adobe, he was responsible for working across those organizations to optimize the customer journey and define industry-leading platforms. Prior to joining Adobe, Watson served as Director of Product Strategy for Yahoo! and as a leader for Developer and Platform Evangelism at Microsoft. He also spent several years in the advertising agency and publishing space in varied roles such as Creative Director for format::idea and CTO for Toronto Life and FASHION Magazine.