The Future of Strategic Digital Marketing

digital marketingI recently came across an example of the future of strategic digital marketing. A friend of mine (we’ll call her Amanda) is a trendy young professional in Chicago. I always find her to be on the cutting edge of marketing and she just made a Facebook post that I find intriguing:

Is it a bad thing that my Nordstrom shoe guy is texting me cute items? Has it been that long since I’ve been in the store????

This is exactly how marketing should work! Notice a few key elements were personalized for her:

  • The frequency made sense: She hadn’t bought anything recently
  • There was novelty: The store had new items in the collection
  • The channel was compelling: I can’t stand text messages, but Amanda appreciated it
  • The content resonated: Clearly, her tastes were taken into account to show “cute” items

And the result of this interaction? Better engagement with the brand, and even a share on Facebook implicitly reminding all her friends to check out the new shoe collection! What’s more, all of this happened without a discount or a sale. It was simply a great customer experience.

This workflow really isn’t hard to replicate. If you wanted to diagram this interaction, here’s what it would look like:

  1. If Amanda hasn’t bought items in 90 days
  2. Find three new items that Amanda will likely be interested in (based on what she’s bought before, and what similar people buy)
  3. Select which communication channel Amanda typically prefers
  4. Use that communication channel to send Amanda a personalized note with those three items

So why isn’t this commonly done? It’s obviously valuable, and it seems so simple! Any business should be able to reproduce it at scale.

In fact, Amanda’s “shoe guy” is uniquely positioned for this. At this single point, he has aggregated a number of capabilities that are needed for this to work. Among them:

  • He knew what Amanda was interested in based upon her previous purchase habits, as well as best selling items for similar young professionals in Chicago
  • He knew she hadn’t visited recently
  • He could craft and send a note to her (in this case via text message)

He was essentially acting as a combination of data aggregation, analytics, recommendations and finally took action. He started with Amanda in mind and worked towards how to (1) improve her experience and (2) generate incremental revenue.

Contrast this with the fundamental philosophy behind most marketing tools. Rather than starting with the customer they start with the campaign. They don’t have access to purchase data or do any decision data. For a long time, the technology didn’t exist to do anything differently – technology limitations essentially forced broadcast messaging with minimal customization.

Now, there’s no excuse. Marketers of the future will have to leverage their data across communication channels to create the exact same experience the Nordstrom “shoe guy” generated for Amanda.