sitecore logoMarketers today are faced with an increasingly complex world. In this series — Marketing with Experience: How experience marketing is shaping the future — we explore the many ways experience marketing has become essential to the success — and how to succeed at it. Brought to you to by Sitecore — see the whole series here.

Consumers are nearly all-powerful in today’s digitally interconnected landscape of devices, brands, and marketing. They type, swipe, and click their way to the products and services they want, using the devices they prefer, through the channels they choose — crafting their own experiences as they make their way through their sales journey. But in this process, marketers have an important choice to make.

Will they embrace holistic experience marketing — and in doing so, be able to deliver the personalized journey their consumer demands? Or will they settle for less?

Connect the dots…and you’ll know your consumer

Consider a common consumer journey: A runner uses his smartphone one day to check out the newest styles of running shoes on Google. He sees a paid ad and clicks on it. Marketers and brands should already be paying attention at this stage. Is he interested in the brand in the ad? What device is he using and what content can you get to him via that device? Where is he geographically and can you point him towards your nearest partner store to close a sale?

In our case, the runner is just curious (for now). He exits his consumer journey early. That doesn’t mean the data logged is wasted, however. Let’s say two days later, the same runner uses his laptop at work back to the same site he visited using his phone. He sees an offer and provides his email in exchange for a coupon. Later that night, back at home, the runner receives an email and accesses it via his smartphone.

Now you can connect the earlier session with this particular lead. If you’ve been really paying attention and gathering the data, you should be able to connect the dots here, and paint a picture of your consumer: he uses laptops and smartphones, is interested in running shoes of a particular style or brand, and based on the coupon he exchanged for his information, he’s more inclined towards the brand or style that the coupon applies to.

That’s experience marketing.

That’s what it means to realize that all of these individual interactions with a brand, whether offline or online, are part of an overall continual experience. The bottom-line is to connect the dots, be consistent, and relevant. And deliver the experience consumers now expect.

Consolidate solutions for better outcomes

Experience marketing embraces all channels that consumers may use on their way to a purchase decision. This includes mobile, social, content, email, even print, and virtually every touch point that comes together to form the multi-channel, interconnected paths that consumers take in their journey.

But this complexity opens up pitfalls that, all too often, brands blindly fall into in their desire to engage their consumers in any and every way possible.

The reasoning is sound, but if brands jump at every opportunity to add something new to their efforts, they may unintentionally fragment their technologies, marketing channels, and tools. Each new need — for example, automated social profiling scheme, conversion rate optimization, or even just a responsive website — offers new vendors, new technologies, and new tools.

Here’s the problem: When marketers use a number of different tools, they face the risk of not mastering any of them. Delivering a consistent, connected experience becomes a challenge. Worse, disconnected technologies create pockets of disconnected consumer data that prevents marketers from understanding their customers and delivering a unified brand experience.

It’s not long before the loose ends start to unravel, leading marketers to invest in solutions that enable brands to aggregate data into one place — so all the information can shape the experience of consumers.

And brands that embrace experience marketing tend to deliver increasingly better experiences for their consumers. The outcome? Improved customer lifecycles along with positive customer feedback — consumers feel like brands genuinely know them. And the more a brand really knows its target audience, the more it’s going to be able to keep them for longer.

Embracing change from the C-suite down

Experience marketing sounds so promising and yet it’s complicated. It’s easy to say brands should embrace all channels and connect the dots, but what does this entail?

It turns out, it entails the same things required for any IT investment: people, process, and systems. While the technology is undoubtedly there, there’s a big challenge about people and process according to Sitecore VP of Marketing Mark Floisand, “It’s really about growing digital maturity,” he adds.

He finds that a turning point is enabling internal resources to see things through their customers’ eyes. He often asks clients, “If they did business with their own company, how would they want it to be? How would they want to feel?” The next step for a brand is to determine how to orchestrate their teams and align the work they do to take advantage of experience marketing.

But before any change is implemented, buy-in from C-Suite decision makers is crucial. This isn’t just an internal shift to sustain better returns; it’s about evolving for the future. And experience marketing plays a significant role in that future.

“If you think about classic technology adoption and lifecycle curve, we’re really just at the beginning of experience marketing. Customer experience is where people are investing their money,” Floisand says, pointing out that “people must understand that this is a relatively new way of advertising to consumers, but consumers expect it — and if organizations want to look back in 10 years and see their company still in business, this is a crucial thing to embrace.”

Dig deeper: Download Sitecore’s whitepaper Discover Experience Marketing for more info on moving your brand forward with experience marketing.

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