The fall leaves crunch underfoot as masked children flood the sidewalks, pillowcases and plastic pumpkins in hand, ready to reap the rewards of “Trick or Treat!” shouted within well-lit doorways. As I hand out treats this year, I’m reminded of how marketers are tasked with getting behind the masks of an anonymous flow of site visitors to uncover the real essence of these people engaging with brand.
Several hundred years ago, dressing up on Halloween (the eve of All Saints Day) was a way to protect yourself a “last chance for vengeance” by souls of the departed (i.e., ghosts) wandering the earth before moving to the next realm on All Saints Day or All Hallows’ Day. Not to be recognized by those souls who may be out to get them, people would wear costumes to conceal their identity, celebrating through a Celtic-Christian fusion of traditions.
Of course, marketers don’t want to harm people. We just want to get their attention to spark the purchase cycle. However, privacy and consumer surveys show that the many consumers prefer to keep those masks on, not to be identified or tracked online. At the same time, they also want the full-sized Hershey’s bar dropped into their goodie bag (not the popcorn ball or apple), meaning they also expect a relevant personalized experience delivered from the brands they interact with seamless consistency. So how do you know who wants the Almond Joy and who wants the Sour Patch Kids? What’s the trick to treating consumers to a great experience with your brand?
The best way to cast a spell on your audience is by weaving together data and context. (Even Harry Potter’s polyjuice potion required a person’s hair to create their own version of a lookalike model.) Your brand is defined by its interactions with its audience. To develop deeper engagement, marketers must find new ways to provide useful information and experiences that allow the brand to get its hooks into people.
As Carl Doty of Forrester Research explains in his report “The Power of Customer Context,” marketers need to look at interactions more than campaigns, engagement over targeting, and value exchanges over transactions. To accomplish this, it helps to know who’s behind the mask.
This spells “bubble, bubble… toil and trouble” for marketers. With unstructured data trapped and bubbling in separate systems, today’s marketers spend far too much time stirring different pots of audiences without getting a crystal-ball view of the customer journey across channels.
It doesn’t take ear wax, spiders’ legs and the eye of newt to bring clarity to your marketing brew. It takes consolidated data – plus a new way to think about who is behind those masks online so you can better treat them to a totally wicked brand experience.