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Welcome to the world of post-digital marketing

story mapping session

Technologies like social, mobile and big data are not just disrupting traditional industries and business models. They are also profoundly transforming the way customers expect to engage with brands. This is the post-digital era, and it’s radically reshaping the role of the modern agency partner.

 

Brand engagement in the post-digital era

Self-directed search and discovery have become by far the largest driver of brand engagement. Traditional customer journeys are being collapsed and short-circuited as customers expect immediate relevance and value from every brand interaction based on their current search intent.

Brand engagement is also increasingly delivered in ways that the brand stewards do not directly control—via real-time interactions between socially and technically connected customers. As a result, trust in brands is now mediated primarily through social relationships vs. brand-out communications.

At the same time, more and more customers are open to sharing personal information—directly or indirectly—that allows brands to deliver more useful, personalized experiences.

 

Don Draper vs. collaborative agency ecosystems

In this evolving landscape, agencies need to collaborate in new ways, both internally and with their clients. CMOs are increasingly wary of AORs telling them what their next big campaign idea should be. Instead, they are relying on ecosystems of agency partners who can collaborate deeply with their internal teams to deliver a shared vision for their end-to-end customer experience (CX).

It’s no longer enough for an agency to be a masterful storyteller. We must also become systems thinkers who can envision the brand narrative as a dynamic system of connected experiences that progressively deepen customer engagement.

 

The new marketing imperatives

We believe that these shifts in customer behavior and client-agency relationships are driving three powerful new imperatives for the marketing profession:

1. Understand your customer as an individual

Personalizing the customer experience is no longer optional. It is becoming the expected behavior of modern brands, and a core strategy for CMOs seeking to grow their brands’ value. Meanwhile, customers are increasingly comfortable with exchanging their personal data for more valuable content or interactions. Companies that execute this value exchange responsibly enter a virtuous cycle that can radically boost brand value. Personalized experiences drive customer acquisition, loyalty and trust while at the same time generating insights that can optimize acquisition even further as well as driving product innovation.

2. Create a system of engagement that optimizes every touchpoint

We now have the ability to continuously optimize individual brand experiences and fine-tune their linkages as a system, thanks to powerful analytics across paid, earned and owned media. In such a system, every experience is personalized, designed to deliver immediate value on its own, and linked to the “best next engagement” in the system.

3. Co-create your brand and culture so they are authentically one

Social media and employee brand advocacy have made companies completely transparent to the outside world, so they can no longer afford to have a corporate character that is different from the way they behave as brands. To align brand and culture, companies need to:

  • Become acutely aware of their reputation by actively listening and engaging in social media,
  • Systematically close the gaps between the company’s unique character and its brand reality,
  • Design reward systems that connect every employee at a visceral level to the success (and failure) of the customer experience.

 

New purpose, new principles, new skills

To succeed as effective partners, agencies need to re-examine their core purpose and design principles. At Havas Worldwide, where I lead the global experience design practice, a new consensus is emerging on our purpose:

To help our clients deliver a delightful, holistic customer experience that authentically expresses their brand and culture.

Our core principles to fulfill that purpose are:

  • user-centered design, a commitment to designing experiences around the needs, challenges and desires of the customer,
  • a belief in the power of cross-functional collaboration to generate the most innovative ideas and execute them flawlessly,
  • innovation that matters—thoughtfully applying new technologies that solve customer needs while delivering on business goals.

More than any other role, experience designers (aka UX designers) can act as a catalyst for this new way of working. They’re collaborative by nature, and they know how to bridge strategy, design and creative technology through their unwavering commitment to user-centered design. As a result, the experiences they create are becoming the most powerful value drivers for the brands they represent.

 

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