No one needs to tell us that the world of marketing is changing fast. We are living it. Low-cost and ubiquitous communications technology is irrevocably altering human behavior, causing seismic shifts in marketing philosophy, practices, and careers. At its core, marketing is still about creating and keeping customers, but the how-to questions for accomplishing this have changed considerably.
The Web has empowered people everywhere. Whether in New York or Nairobi, today's customers are connected, informed, and more vocal than they have been in the past. Anyone with a connected device-39 percent of the world as of 2013-now has access to all of the world's knowledge and many of its citizens. With these resources at their fingertips, our prospects and customers can discover and investigate anything and everything, establish decision-making criteria, seek opinions from their peers, evaluate their options, and share their impressions and experience with others, anytime and anywhere. As a result, the relationship between businesses and their customers has been dramatically altered: our customers are now firmly in charge of the buying process.
Digital Has Changed the Game
In the predigital landscape, our prospects undertook a straightforward purchase journey that we likened to a funnel. The process began with a need or desire that our prospects chose to address. Salespeople were involved early on, helping to establish decision-making criteria. Our job as marketers was to build awareness and create materials that made the case for why our solutions should be adopted. Many consumer brands had loyalty programs to encourage retention, but not much attention was devoted to post-purchase engagement.
The generic understanding of analytics is that they are measurements or numbers that indicate how a process is performing. This definition certainly holds true for marketing analytics, yet a deeper understanding of analytics helps marketing organizations take full advantage of what the process can do to drive better performance. To that end, here is definition:
Digital has dealt us all new cards. Today's customer journey still starts with a need or a desire, but our prospects often undertake an at times lengthy period of silent due diligence during which time they discover and evaluate their options via the web. During this period of discovery our prospects' consideration set often grows rather than narrows. According to Google's Zero Moment of Truth study, the average person pulls information from 10.4 sources before making a purchase.3 Some of the most influential sources are other people's unfiltered post-purchase commentary. Salespeople enter the process at a much later stage for business-to-business purchases; most e-commerce purchases can be made independently.
Marketers have become essential to the purchase process, as more often than not, content is the tool that breaks through this silent due diligence, initiating a conversation between us and our prospects. Recognizing this shift, marketers have become content publishers, experts at creating useful resources that address our prospects' and customers' underlying needs and desires. If these experiences resonate, we may be invited into the purchase process. Serving as trusted advisors, rather than biased advocates for our company's products and services, we create the conditions for our prospects and customers to evaluate for themselves whether we make the grade.
Social media has multiplied the potential points of connection with our prospects and customers and its interactive nature has turned static text into cross-channel dialogue. As we blog, tweet, host webinars, publish white papers, produce videos, and curate Pinterest boards, we generate living assets that can draw prospects to us. As we come to know these people as individuals through careful observation of their digital body language, our encounters become more personalized, incorporating predictive analytics to enhance their usefulness.