Marketers trying to find their customers via social media have to do one thing: Be everywhere.
That’s the bad news, maybe. But the flip side of that coin is that just as technological advances have created an almost infinite number of sources for information, other tech advances have developed to let marketers track what their customers are looking for and what they’re looking at.
“Today, access to information is unprecedented, consumers are empowered to make smarter buying decisions and marketers have amassed immense quantities of data about consumers. Technology has transformed many industries permanently, but perhaps none as much as marketing,” writes Manu Mathew, co-founder and CEO of Visual IQ, in Nielsen’s Newswire, an emailed newsletter. Nielsen owns Visual IQ.
He lays out the enormity of the playing field. For example, in 2010, the average consumer checked five sources before making a purchase. More recent stats say that’s grown to a dozen. And consumers spend 23 hours a week using apps, watching videos, streaming audio and using social media. Almost six in 10 TV households also have at least one Internet-enabled device, like Roku or Apple TV or Amazon Fire TV, further deepening the pool of media choices and voices.
So who’s seeing what, and where and how? Mathew, knowingly or not, references Nielsen’s old TV ratings system when he writes, “Estimates of how many people might have seen your message have given way to knowing the location, device, time, browser and action of every consumer touchpoint online. With greater access to data about consumer behavior, marketing has transformed from an art to a science. We’ve moved from ‘spray and pray’ to being able to focus with the precision of a surgeon.”
But doing the hard work to discover where consumers are headed is still a challenge. A Canadian study last year by Accenture determined that 79% of CMOs complain their companies are not prepared to fully explore the ins and outs of digital channels and 54% said their companies weren’t keeping pace with consumer behavior.
Visual IQ’s Mathew advises, “Instead of one-way communication from brand to consumer, brands need to embrace the concept of two-way conversation. An increasing array of channels, devices and platforms have splintered mass communication into thousands of niche outlets, each catering to a specific audience.”