Digitalisation has undeniably changed everything. As customers, our expectations of brands are increasingly high. Brands are responding with new ways to interest us, by getting more targeted across both their advertising and marketing. It has seen the consumer-brand relationship change forever, and forced businesses to evolve. The data explosion has provided brands with the rich insight needed to gain a better understanding of their customer in order to deliver better experiences. These insights are core to how brands are communicating with their customers – telling them exactly how, when and where a customer wants to be engaged, and most importantly, providing them with the information that enables them to make offers relevant to that individual. As a result, we are seeing a collision between brand advertising and brand marketing.

Which part of the business is now responsible for targeting the consumer? Who is doing it more effectively? Are they both working together? These are all becoming questions brands need to answer. If you get your CRM campaigns right and deliver a meaningful experience, the customer is more likely to make a purchase. However, recently it is not just the marketers who are making the most of the data evolution to communicate with customers. Advertisers are also shifting the way they target customers, with the development of disruptive technologies enabling them to adopt a more programmatic approach to their campaigns.

Seismic shifts

The era of digital disruption is upon us and seeing the lines between CRM and advertisers becoming blurred. Both are using data to engage customers, so are essentially now doing the same thing. They are making the most of the opportunities being presented by the omni-channel world, collecting and using data from multiple sources, in order to improve the experience of their prospective customer and ultimately deliver greater returns.

The increase in programmatic buying, the ability to engage a specific user wherever they are, at whatever time and through whatever device has opened the door to brands being able to optimise their campaign. In using that customer’s data, they can transform their ads from simply being sign posts, to a far more enriching and personalised experience for that individual, providing a bigger driver towards the purchase. It is completely changing the way organisations buy and sell media, and seeing a shift in the make-up of the entire industry as the way customer communication is undertaken transforms.

Whilst this should bring the opportunity to create better experiences for the customer, it also brings obstacles that brands need to be aware of if they want to achieve the best results. The industry is undergoing a huge shake up. Data is no longer just the property of the CRM sector – advertisers are in on the action and have seen the value that connectable data can offer in delivering a better customer experience. This, in turn, is likely to see greater competition within the marketplace as more disruptive technological developments are making the most of data insights and have the capabilities to take on traditional customer relationships. Brands that want to maintain the competitive edge have no option but to ensure they have technology in place that will enable them to do so – or face being left behind.

A synchronised strategy 

Above all, structure is needed to ensure a customer centric strategy can be achieved, giving the customer the meaningful experience they are after, and to allow marketers and advertisers to use the data in ways that will make this possible. Organisational change is required to break down silos and bring all data and activity into a centralised hub where all customer interactions are visible, to enable these targeted decisions to be made and executed. This includes streamlining all online and offline activity and working together to ensure campaigns are synchronised. For example, if a CRM campaign is sent out a brand needs to ensure the correct strategy is in place to support with advertising.

With the value of data increasing further, there is likely to be a greater focus placed on collecting, housing and pulling out the relevant insights, which will inform the multi-channel campaigns. Without the correct data, brands will find themselves increasingly outbid by competitors who have the correct strategies in place to manage their programmatic approach, which enables them to identify the most valuable customers first. If they are able to show the customer that they can provide a tailored and targeted experience, they will, without doubt, win over the customer.

One area brands must be particularly cautious about is the increased threat of data leakage. With more money being invested in programmatic buying, there are greater risks of data being sold on. For brands, this loss of their data will have a profound impact on performance. They must ensure they are protecting their commercial advantage and are aware of where all their data is being held, particularly as media agencies continue to acquire and sell more data. Putting programmatic safeguard strategies in place will help manage this.

The industry is certainly a place of huge excitement and opportunity at the moment, but requires brands to evolve with the changes, if they want to remain part of the noise. Adapting and investing in technology that enables them to continue to meet customer needs is vital. Business transformation is mandatory to break down the silos, gain a complete picture of customer channels and interactions, and streamline activity. The likes of programmatic approaches and other disruptive technologies are showing no sign of slowing, which will put greater pressure on traditional customer relationships. Those who act smart and make the most of the data insights available to them will be the front runners in the long-term.

Meet the author at PMI London this Wednesday

Email has long been accepted as one of the most powerful and cost effective digital channels available. Join Teradata’s director Mark Ash on Wednesday as he leads a session at Performance Marketing Insights on how the sector continues to revolutionise performance marketing.