Don't Be at Cross-Screen Purposes with Your Customers

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Silos are the ultimate time suck—because by the time you've optimized one corner of the customer experience, your consumer's already moved somewhere else…and then back again.

That's the cross-screen reality. People are switching devices faster than you can say, “A consumer named Jack Robinson used his phone to look up a price, his tablet to learn more about a product, and his laptop to ultimately make a purchase.”

Direct Marketing News caught up with Tapad CEO Are Traasdhal last week at the company's first annual Unify Tech conference to talk about why the marketers who embrace a holistic view of the customer will thrive—and why those who don't probably won't survive.

“When consumers visit a brand or publisher from five different devices, they look like five different people,” Traasdhal says. “This creates a problem for data, for optimization of content, for attribution—basically, it creates a problem for everybody in the $300 billion marketing ecosystem.”

The research Tapad just released with Forrester found that 66% of consumers discover products or services through digital rather than offline. Are you surprised by that number?

I was actually surprised when I heard that—sometimes tech entrepreneurs can live in a bit of tech bubble—but I find it encouraging to see that consumers are using multiple devices to make purchase decisions and that it's become firmly incorporated into consumer behavior. Phone speed, screen size, and the browsing experience are all improving, and brand sites are becoming increasingly mobile-optimized. In the past 12 months we've seen enormous investment from brands to make the consumer research experience better both on smartphones and on tablets.

Is there still a place for traditional media?

There is, one hundred percent. I'm a big believer in getting a unified view of the customer across all touchpoints and screens, both digital and analog. The digital side is important, but direct mail is a $25 billion industry for a reason. It's all about figuring out how digital and physical channels interact with each other and then starting to tie all that data back into a single view so you can really understand your customers.

Should retailers fear showrooming—or is showrooming actually a retailer's secret best friend?

Research has shown that there is a 60% discrepancy between what consumers say they think they're going to buy before entering a store and what they actually buy when they're there—so clearly consumers are being influenced by a lot of what they experience in the store. But it's also the hardest place for marketers to get access to consumers. Consumers aren't carrying around a computer or a newspaper with them—they're carrying around their phone, and brands can use the phone to influence consumers when they're close to the cash register. People's phones are important to them and always close by.

You recently made the observation that ‘in three years, there won't be any mobile companies, any computer companies, or any tablet companies—just companies that truly embrace cross-channel devices.' What do you mean by that?

There's often a reaction of fear when people have to change—but we need to accept that consumers are switching between screens 27 times an hour, and just optimizing for one siloed part of the experience makes very little sense. That only creates more fragmentation. It's hard for CMOs today because to deliver a banner on a mobile phone they have to work with one company, and if they want to serve video they have to work with someone else—and then a third company to do other things. All of these companies need to get together around a single organizing principle: the consumer. The companies that insist on being good in one silo are going to miss out on 40 or 50% of what's going on in other channels—but the trend-makers are moving towards a more unified approach.

What's a good example of this in action?

Let's say your mobile company is specifically focused on location. Yes, you can send a message to a consumer when they're close to a store using geofencing—but a lot of information about the consumer is missing. Maybe three days earlier the consumer clicked on but didn't buy something online, say a blue blazer—wouldn't it be better to show that person a coupon for a blue blazer rather than just a general coupon for the store? If you tie all the data together you can create a better experience for everyone.

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