In both marketing and in business we all aspire to be interconnected. The word itself denotes modernity, agility and competence, but, drilled to its core, what does it actually mean and how can companies use it effectively?
Our world view is that data is the thread that enables interconnectivity. It links companies to the consumers they serve, enabling the efficient extraction of value from transactions. Sustainable, profitable growth comes from harnessing data in three areas.
Understanding data is key, to truly embody the term companies must be able to interpret and quickly react to live data – without losing sight of its relevance to the customer journey. The financial crisis of recent years reminded us how interconnectivity within the financial sector amplified shocks. The sector’s high degree of interconnectedness essentially set the dominoes close to one another; and we all know what happened next. The real trick is to know which domino will be the first to fall.
For marketers, having live data can illuminate where the weak links are, providing businesses with foresight to fix those links before the crisis hits. It could be lacking customer service, a non-compelling brand narrative, or misplaced understanding of consumer sentiment – the devil will be in the data.
Data can be used not only to highlight pressure points, but also to determine customer engagement. Truly interconnected companies build upon their data to identify and respond to consumer’s needs, taking them on a journey from dilemma to solution, providing value while enhancing emotional engagement and affinity to a brand. According to a study by Google and the CEB Marketing Leadership Council, customers are eight times more likely to pay a premium for comparable products and services when emotional engagement or personal value is present. Indeed, the benefits of having an in-depth understanding of data to drive an insightful customer journey and create a personal customer experience have a direct impact on the bottom line.
In the run-up to Christmas, we are surrounded by companies that are trying to create an emotional engagement with consumers. This is best demonstrated in supermarkets’ emotive TV adverts. Sainsbury’s controversial commercial is based around soldiers sharing chocolate on the Christmas day truce in World War One. Provoking more than 200 complaints to the Advertising Authority, the clip has been called both 'disrespectful' and 'wonderful' in equal measure. Yet, the proof of the power of emotional connection can be seen in sales, with the supermarket reporting selling 5,000 units of the chocolate bar per hour in the wake of its broadcast. Undoubtedly, brands that can evoke emotion will build brand love and strengthen the consumer connection. This is undeniably a powerful strategy to retain loyalty, particularly when Lidl and Aldi are overtly targeting Sainsbury’s middle class customers.
For brands without the budgets of a retail giant, the key is to use data wisely to ensure that you create targeted and relevant content that will drive conversion. AposTherapy is a premium health brand, which has successfully used interconnectivity to respond to its customers’ needs. It understands that consumers will not commit to purchase without active research and so has built an offering which provides a seamless customer purchase journey, explaining conditions and suggesting treatments which are endorsed by both previous patients and medical professionals. As a result, its content provides personal value to the consumer, whilst demonstrating empathy and understanding - creating an emotional connection whilst taking them on a journey from dilemma to solution.
And that’s the key to being a truly effective, interconnected business. Interconnection must have a purpose and support a strong central message, it is not an end in itself. Brands that fail to realise this will take the customer on a merry-go-round, rather than lead them on a meaningful journey towards tangible business results.