Digital marketing is traditionally thought of as transactional, leaving little opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with buyers. However, in today’s multi-touch, multichannel world, that’s far from accurate. Instead of focusing on individual immediate transactions, brands are shifting their focus to building long-term connections with their customers via engaging experiences online that grow lifetime value. In case you missed it, Scott Gifis, President of AdRoll, recently participated in a Q&A panel at eTail West to expand on this very topic. In part one of this discussion, he offers his views on the state of the industry and provides expert tips to help enhance the customer and brand relationship.
In your opinion, why do today’s customers seek brand relationships? Why do customers prefer interacting with brand messaging?
Scott: Today’s population are largely digitally native or at minimum digitally savvy; they are accustomed to having direct access to brands via online, specifically social media as well as SMS and just about everywhere else they live, work, and play thanks to the integrated, digital world. According to CMO.com, consumers spend on average 8.8 hours a day engaging with digital content, sometimes on up to three devices at once. As a result, brands must directly connect to their target market in order to cut through the noise and stay top of mind. By making the investment to connect their products or services to a brand promise, successful companies are winning their unfair share of customers and engaging them for the long-term.
How are brands connecting with customers and assessing data to understand how to engage them long term?
Scott: Marketplace strategies, such as Google Search and Amazon Listings, have obfuscated the notion that a digital relationship (we bought clicks and optimized for cost per acquisition) is a “real” relationship. But, in reality, this is not how a business owner would think about their most valued customer. The growing presence of digital in our day-to-day lives has forever altered how brands and marketers view and interact with their customers.
This shift orbits around the idea that a digital customer is more than a click or single transaction and actually an entry point to a more meaningful relationship, potentially on a personal or 1-to-1 level. As a result, consumer brands are creating more impactful content to engage and foster deeper, direct customer relationships—transforming websites and ad campaigns into connected experiences that extend beyond digital and into their offline experience.
Companies like Away have created a travel magazine. Warby Parker, the original D2C brand, created maps of the “best places to read a book” in cities in which their brick-and-mortar stores were located. Spotify’s annual “Unwrapped” campaign illustrates the year’s statistics and listeners’ music tastes in an interactive (and often humorous) manner. While these content pieces aren’t directly generating leads, they humanize these brands and cultivate direct connections with consumers.
In light of this, the industry has begun to shift away from vanity metrics and surface-level attribution to KPIs, such as customer lifetime value (CLV) and revenue, that truly take the pulse of growth. With access to so much new technology, resources, and marketing channels, it’s vital for brands to evolve their thinking around how to measure success and what they’re solving for: long-term relationships and CLV. Tapping into better data is not just good practice, but necessary to understanding what customers will want now and in the future. This level of insight helps brands to think beyond a singular sale by delivering personalized experiences that optimize the customer relationship.
Interested in gaining tips to build a winning customer retention program? Check out part two of this discussion.