Brands can no longer plan their customers’ journey, nor expect to guide their audience through a funnel. Linear campaigns simply don’t work – the customer has too much say in the path they take, from awareness to consideration to purchase. I won’t go so far as to say the customer is “in control,” though, because I see a nice balance of power unlike what may have been taking place in recent years.
For marketers, data can be used to identify customers or prospects and recognize where in the customer journey they may be. This concept of identification and recognition is the basis for a data-driven marketing strategy.
What a marketer can do, rather than planning out a full “campaign,” is create an anticipatory “roadmap.” A marketing roadmap, like one in the real world, gives you the ability to get from one location to the eventual destination, but it shows numerous ways to get there.
This roadmap creates an infrastructure that allows you to identify the audience, determine who you should and should not be speaking to, and deliver messages to them based on where they are in their self-selected customer journey.
On the customer side, the balance lies in the fact that consumers are allowing marketers to use their data — with the understanding that this process will not be over-invasive and recognize privacy guidelines. If marketers were to overstep their boundaries, then the balance would shift.
A roadmap strategy can be planned in advance, much like a campaign. Think of it as a decision tree, one that can indeed be automated. There are many technologies that allow you to create these plans, and data is a requirement for them to be implemented accurately. The data doesn’t have to be deep -- you can create these paths using only a few different attributes -- but is necessary for the identification of your audience, determining whether these are people you want to be speaking to.
A roadmap strategy will also change as you learn more about your customers. Just like any real-world map, there are new roads being added and old roads being changed, as traffic patterns evolve along with population size. The same can be done in your marketing strategy, as you learn more about your audience and they find out more about your brand. The fair balance will evolve, and the depth of information you have, even the paths you can take across different types of media, will all change over time.
A roadmap is a better analogy for the campaign of today. Try looking at things through that filter this week. I am guessing the analogy will hold up for you far better than you may think.