The aim of the game for marketers in 2012 is ‘customer engagement’ and, although this may be somewhat overused terminology, the principles behind it are yet to be put into practice. According to the recent IAB report, most brands still don’t understand the consumer journey and with 2012 set to be a year of great change and great opportunity for online marketers, brands need to get data savvy quickly. Rather than pushing out marketing messages that fall on deaf ears, marketers need to learn what it is that makes their customer convert.

Discovering your customers’ brand journey

The question is where to start. Looking at the billions of interactions by the thousands of consumers on the tens of platforms seems a rather mean feat for marketers, but there is a simple solution: analytics software and attribution modelling. Rather staggeringly 58% of brands aren’t aware of this technology and perhaps this explains why the wealth of interactions can appear overwhelming. However, by employing attribution software brands can pinpoint the touch points in the customer lifecycle and coupling this with analytics allows them to track customer data across all platforms.

This combination of software can quickly and efficiently give marketers detailed information that will inform the sales teams, management teams and the marketers about what customers are saying, and more importantly, about what they’re buying.

The added benefits of attribution

A few years back, customer surveys and an opt-in email database may have been sufficient methods for gaining a customer profile but with the explosion of digital platforms for consumers to speak and interact on, marketers need to update the system and attribution modelling can provide a lot more analysis than simply the number of conversions from each marketing channel.

Sophisticated attribution software can offer quantitative analysis of average dwell time per customer, percentage of shoppers that have put products in an online basket without buying and the different channels a customer has visited before purchasing. But it can also provide qualitative analysis, looking at conversations on social media, detailing which products are most talked about, the experiences of customers in store and the perception of the brand by consumers.

Married with analytics software that can track data from the store tills to social media, this technology can give marketers an accurate profile of consumer intent behaviour and allow them to automatically create personal, timely and relevant communications, a ‘win win’ situation for both consumer and marketer, since consumers receive promotions and messages they’re interested in and aren’t irritated by and marketers will see an increase in conversion rates.

Impact on multichannel strategies

The next step is for marketers to start thinking in a ‘multichannel’ way to keep up with the ‘multichannel consumer’ by truly integrating the marketing message. Attribution allows them to monitor all digital platforms and see how consumers are interacting over multiple devices. Rather than analysing the interaction on individual channels, marketers need to look at the customer journey holistically, looking at how they make use of more than one platform to either talk about brands or inform their buying decision. The use of this software therefore allows marketers to get a more accurate picture of the marketing mix as a whole and assign marketing budget based on concrete evidence rather than guesswork.

The reality of customer engagement

Not only is this technology necessary to make marketing messages relevant for consumers, it easily helps marketers engage with consumers. For to attain and retain customers, marketers need to see the impulses behind the purchasing decision and then interact with customers based on these impulses, whether the impulse was as the result of a Facebook page or a promotion over email. If marketers can encourage consumers to visit any of a brand’s platforms not just once but multiple times through relevant and interactive content, they have achieved the ultimate goal and will cement customer loyalty.

The technology has, therefore, finally caught up with the thinking. Marketers have been talking about ‘customer engagement’ for a long time and the solution to this seemed impossible to attain – to get into the mind of the customer. Attribution modelling allows marketers to find out these very thoughts and processes that were once hidden away.  It seems that it is now the marketers that need to catch up with the technology.

So, in order to increase their ROI in the year ahead, marketers need to understand customer lifecycles (purchase process), embrace clarity in their metrics and drive innovation in their channel mix.

Jill Brittlebank

Jill Brittlebank


Jill Brittlebank is Director of Strategy & Analytics at e-Dialog's.