Activate Virtual insights: cross-channel harmony is the future of customer experience

Marketing
May 24, 2022
Zach Ettelman
Senior Partner Manager
7
Min to read

Expert guidance is never a bad thing. Iterable is a customer activation platform designed to create a fast, scalable, single source of customer information. This is perfect for creating unified customer experiences, making Iterable an ideal Talon.One partner

At the beginning of April 2022, Iterable began Activate, a global series of in-person and virtual events. The first event was Activate Virtual, a series of online talks which gave “expert marketers, data experts, and product leaders” a chance to “share and showcase best practices, cutting edge theories, and key insights into building effective and memorable customer experiences.” 

The event more than lived up to its promise. Talon.One's Senior US Partner Manager, Zach Ettelman, attended and came away with many crucial insights about how industry leaders craft  exciting, impactful marketing campaigns.

Don’t be too disappointed if you missed out. All of the speakers' sessions are available here but we’ve also put together a quick summary based on Zach's observations of the common threads that emerged throughout the event. They reveal the core strategies of the companies leading the field in marketing right now and what’s most important for every business planning for the future.

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What’s stopping you from creating memorable customer experiences? 

There’s no shortage of inspiration for how to craft customer experiences that make a long-term impact. There are clear advantages for businesses that do. Of course, everything is easier said than done but when it comes to crafting memorable, personal experiences there are certain issues that crop up again and again.

Data and interaction are disjointed

To make a great impression on your audience, you have to understand your audience. What feels like a great marketing idea in the room can completely alienate the wrong group of people. No matter how innovative, your customers’ motivations must be central to your strategy - on every level. If the customer data you have isn’t reflected in their experience, there’s a good chance the customer will feel alienated and an almost 100% chance they’ll feel frustrated. 

Beware of “Frankenstacks”

There’s another harsh reality when it comes to customer perception. When trying to innovate on customer experience, major stakeholders are aware (often painfully so!) of the limitations borne from how each tool you use communicates with the rest of your tech stack. They know the limitations of what they're dealing with and plan accordingly. Customers, however, don’t have this insight and will only interpret flaws in your execution as an idea you didn’t have, rather than a concession you had to make.

If your tech stack feels like a barely-connected, group of “seemed like a good idea at the time” tools that don’t connect effectively to share data or even function at all, then you’re dealing with a “Frankenstack.” 

Naturally different teams have ownership of different tools. It’s a safe bet that if these tools don’t work well together then neither do the teams that run them. This communication breakdown, between both tools and team members, limits the ability to create a single source of truth. And, without a single source of truth, how can you effectively use cross-channel customer data to create the best experience possible?

A customer activation platform, like Iterable, is essential to creating a single source of truth and ensuring maximum efficiency by enabling smooth communication between all marketing tools. Talon.One’s Promotion Engine integrates with Iterable, allowing for the easy creation of promotions that adapt seamlessly to customer data.

A Frankenstack can only produce Frankenstack’s Monsters: lumbering, uncommunicative beasts that, though initially created with good intentions, can prove damaging to a brand. Admittedly, being hunted by a mob waving flaming torches technically counts as “engagement” but it’s probably not the kind of reaction you’re hoping for!

Changing data laws

The single source of truth is integral to high-quality customer experiences. How this data is collected is just as important as how it is used. There have been seismic changes to the laws governing data in the last few years. Developments like the retiring of third-party cookies and the restrictions around data collection and maintenance mean that companies are going to have to find new ways to build a better picture of their audience.

Loyalty programs are a great way to collect data with customer consent. In fact, 69% of consumers say choice of retailer is influenced by where they can earn customer loyalty/rewards program points. As restrictions become more severe, this idea of fair exchange will become the industry norm. Creating a loyalty program is also a great way to learn that some customer information is more important than others. 

Cohorts and segments are not enough

The tightening of restrictions around customer data stems from a growing awareness among the public of how their data is used. Customers are a lot savvier about how they’re being marketed to and why. They don’t want to feel as though they’re being pushed into a target market. It’s no longer enough to break your customer base into rough segments and market accordingly. 

Now, when launching a campaign, the goal is to treat it as an “adaptive journey”. Create a landscape/context and a destination/goal and encourage the customer to progress in whatever way makes the most sense to them. Again, personalization is crucial here. As mentioned above: a customer should benefit from all the loyalty and information they’ve provided to a business. A single source of truth both makes that possible and ensures the information will be useful.

Cross-channel harmony

Personalization doesn’t just apply to promotions. Any business that fully embraces the customer perspective will immediately see huge scope for innovation. Harmonizing customer interactions across all channels—and making sure that experience is consistent—will greatly improve trust in the business while making it less vulnerable to comparison shopping.

Even non-traditional channels might prove to be more practical than you’d initially expect. For instance, AR has seen a lot of growth when it comes to cross-channel interactions—SMS/MMS messaging too. Many companies, like MeUndies, are seeing a lot of growth by embracing SMS messaging as another way of interacting with consumers. However, promotion is only the beginning. After all, communication goes two ways. Fully embracing SMS means allowing customers to make changes to their accounts and preferences through SMS and even use it to interact with support.

Iterable stores every interaction a customer has with a business and also the channels they use the most and on which channel they are the most receptive. By integrating with Talon.One, this integration can be used to tailor promotions to a customer, using their data to automatically build a campaign that would most effectively align with their preferences.

Context matters

Innovation is exciting but when harmonizing channels, the goal is to be “the most convenient,” not simply “the most”. Harmonizing the channels doesn’t necessarily mean replicating all messaging across all channels. Be it from a brand or a person you trust, there are some things you don’t want to hear about in a text message. SMS may be a simple form of communication, but it also feels more personal. Too many messages via text and a customer will find the channel’s usefulness outweighed by irritation pretty quickly.

This spirit of consideration should underpin all customer interactions. Are you using inclusive language and design? Cross-channel harmony is great for convenience but it is also of vital importance to make your brand more accessible to all.

Activate Summit North America

As you can see, there was so much to learn from Activate Virtual. That’s why we’re sponsoring Activate Summit North America, taking place September 7th-9th at the Marriott Marquis in San Francisco. For the last event in their Activate series, Iterable is hosting even more brilliant dreamers, builders, and makers who excel at creating memorable moments with lasting impact. Register now to be a part of it!

Summary

  • The quality of a customer experience matches the quality of the services used to create that experience and how those services communicate. A single source of truth is crucial.
  • Customers want to feel seen and heard. Personalization is key, not just for creating a great customer experience, but for gathering the data necessary to do so.
  • Seeing your business from a customer’s point of view is the best way to pinpoint your next innovation. Aim for harmony, not novelty.
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The importance of hyper-personalization
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An omnichannel approach to retail
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Talon.One’s Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Retail
Content Download
The importance of hyper-personalization
UX/UI design in omnichannel retail
An omnichannel approach to retail
Download Your Talon.One Loyalty Playbook
Loyalty Playbook Cover
Best Practices for loyalty programs
How to gain a competitive advantage
Your definitive guide to loyal customers