By nature, technology allows organizations to react quickly to digital feedback—creating an expectation for immediacy all but impossible to mimic in the physical market, even as customers increasingly demand as much. And senior marketing decision makers understand this: We face the dichotomy that though 94 percent of those surveyed believe it is crucial to create a connected omnichannel experience for their customers, only three percent can say they execute this effectively. Marketers know what to do, we’re just precluded from being able to do it—for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at the report.
The Fall-Off of Physical Connectedness
While an admittedly small study group (153 marketing executives) participated in the study, one-third of respondents represented brands bringing in over $1 billion annually, in consumer-focused industries like consumer-packaged goods, health, and beauty. By virtue of this, we can generally expect ahead-of-the-curve leadership from this group. A tiny representation—four percent of respondents—believe they’re delivering a consistent, customer-driven experience across all brand touchpoints. For all others, the focus tends to be on digital touchpoints—a confident 78 percent of marketers responding indicated they are able to respond to digital customer feedback (web, online advertising, mobile, and social media) within two weeks.
When asked how quickly they’re able to respond to requested changes on physical touchpoints like products, in-store promotions, product packaging, and POP display, there’s a dramatic difference. Fifty-five percent of marketers say it would take 90 days on average to act. This means even if a retail customer is running a promotion and they need a brand to make packaging adjustments, it would require 90 days to implement a modification. Have you ever known an in-store promo to last that long?
What’s more, is that end consumers have come to expect brands they use to keep up with changing trends as fast as they come and go. Thirty-four percent of marketers responding believe a seamless experience between all a brand’s touchpoints is critical. Keeping individual customers connected with a tailored experience is one of the smartest ways to maintain them; for a deeper dive on that topic, check out this article written by my colleague Shawn Elledge, What You Need to Do About the Post-Funnel Purchase World.
Becoming Consumer-Focused, Not Convenience-Focused
Brands have gotten very good at digital touchpoints; streamlining websites, social media, and online campaigns is easy because the focus has completely shifted to digital. This also shifted the focus away from physical customer interactions—but the consumer still values those real-life touchpoints, things like assistance from in-store representatives, or the ability to see and pick up products from the shelf. These touchpoints are often ignored in the digital experience. There’s a reason brands made the shift from digital to physical: Digital is easier and less costly to create, update, track, and redevelop than physical—in short, a shift to digital is convenient for brands.
However, in order for brands to make any progress toward closing the responsiveness gap between digital and physical touchpoints, it will take a major cultural shift on the part of brands to focus on the consumer. This includes finding ways to reduce the 90-day turnaround time mentioned above to something much more like the digital two-week average. Marketers understand how important it is to make the shift—a full sixty percent of those studied say the consumer experience should be prioritized over the product. However, understanding the importance of the shift to creating consumer-focused experiences and campaigns and the ability to execute on that front are often two very different things.
The Role that Being Agile Plays in Marketing Teams’ Success
The report explored the composition of marketing teams and factors that contribute to a lack of effectiveness. A cultural roadblock that was evident in survey responses was marketing teams’ ability to be agile and responsive to consumers’ needs. Twenty-five percent of marketers surveyed believe their brand’s culture is not agile enough, saying there are too many people involved in making specific decisions, which causes delays. Further complicating the culture, according to 34 percent of respondents, are functional silos separating marketing from product and packaging teams—making it a huge challenge to share data and create a streamlined consumer experience.
The Hard Facts: Keeping up with Consumers Using Data
The report was clear on one thing: Data, or a lack thereof, is an issue. Forty-six percent of respondents indicated a lack of access to data and intelligence is one of the toughest factors keeping marketers from responding quickly to consumer needs. When it comes to updating product packaging—a physical touchpoint—34 percent of marketers indicated they do not have access to enough data to make the right decisions—and a number of respondents indicated the production process is so muddled, they are unable to even understand wherethere are opportunities for optimization. All this begs a technology-based solution that can connect teams and representatives of a brand across all its production, keeping essential data open and transparent to all working to develop the same customer experience.
Choosing the Most Agile Partners
Obviously the survey results, although from a small sample group, include some major brands. This is valuable feedback—for marketers and marketing teams—and great insights into the very real challenges marketers from companies of all sizes are faced with today. Brands need to be responsive to customer needs, focused on creating consumer-centric experiences and touchpoints, and be agile and adaptable It will become increasingly important for brands to integrate technology into their operations and to build teams who can deliver on their toes, pushing others to transform the speed at which production answers the call of the consumer. Forty-six percent of marketers believe the first step toward responsiveness is this one, this agility of business operations.
The survey results show that marketers understand the customers’ expectation of their brands and the importance of being completely connected along all touchpoints. Working to create a culture personified by responsiveness and agility, identifying and adopting the right kind of technology, and never losing sight of the fact that a consumer-first mentality will always prevail are the keys to success.
Want to read the whole report? Grab it here: The Responsiveness Requirement: How Agile Marketers Act on Consumer Feedback to Drive Growth (registration required.)
This article was first published on The Marketing Scope.