Painting the Portrait of Your Customer in a Multi-Device World


ADOTAS — You’ll have to excuse marketers today for not exactly having 20/20 vision. These days, people are accessing the web on their home PC, work laptop, smartphone and tablet, all during the course of a single day. In fact, nearly 40% of all time spent online these days is via a mobile device.

But this shift in consumer behavior toward mobile has left us with an increasingly fragmented view of our customers. Traditional methods of tracking consumers via cookies don’t work when people move between browsers – let alone devices.

Why does this matter? We’ve reached an era in which broadcast, “spray and pray” marketing as we know it is effectively dead. Consumers have rejected it, and the brands that win are prioritizing engagement with customers ahead of exposure. In a multi-device world, this means that marketers need to find new ways of recognizing their customers, or risk becoming irrelevant.

What is the prescription? That’s the topic of a new report conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Responsys about The Rise of Marketing Orchestration.  Forrester advises that one of the key components is recognition of individual consumers, stitched together across all devices and channels, by “establishing a single identity for customers that is valid across interactions and touch points”. The study analyzed the habits of 200 marketers to assess the impact on their brands ability to meet, or even anticipate, rapid changes in individual customer behavior.

Many companies are now realizing that the clearest path to a single view of their customer is via login. When a customer is logged in, marketers can orchestrate all of their intelligence about that individual, from demographics and psychographics to transaction data, behavioral data and even customer lifecycle data to personalize the customer experience. Most importantly, login data is persistent – customers carry that information with them across all devices. In short, the login does what cookies were never able to do.

Marketers are catching on, and many have applied the old adage that if you want something from someone, you just need to ask. Companies like JackThreads and Hotwire proactively ask their visitors to log in to their account, or create one, on their desktop and mobile sites as well as their mobile apps. Once logged in, Hotwire sets the session length to one year to enable immediate recognition of the customer on future visits.

The customer benefits from a more personalized and seamless experience, whether via checkout, writing reviews, commenting or creating preferences and wish lists, and the marketer in turn can stitch together browsing behaviors and other data for a single customer profile, no matter which device is used.

Maybe being asked to log in is a disruptive experience for a subset of consumers, but when the benefits of personalized content or recommendations, faster checkout and easier participation are clearly communicated, people listen. That’s why companies such as The Huffington Post and Amazon are able to get a high percentage of visitors to log in: There is an exchange of value.

Once upon a time, we walked down the street to the corner store where the business knew exactly who we were. Marketers were able to paint a complete portrait of their customer. If the web distorted that portrait by introducing the complexity of physical vs. online, then the growth of mobile devices shattered it completely – distributing a consumer’s identity across a number of touch points. The login is the glue that holds together that portrait, and paints a clear picture of a customer.


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