Blindsided by Change

Four crucial trends traditional marketing technology didn't see coming.

Every marketer's goal is to send relevant and engaging content to customers. But consumer buying behavior over the past five years has fundamentally altered, and it is still evolving so quickly that the rules of consumer engagement are forever changed. The biggest difference? Customers are in the driver's seat now, displacing the marketer who has a preconceived, static marketing strategy.

Traditional campaign management tools were caught off guard by these changes and marketers paid the price, getting blindsided by a wave of consumer behaviors that demand a new, more nimble, less calendar-driven approach to marketing.

Here are four major trends old-guard marketing technology didn't see coming:

1. Web usage supported by national broadband coverage exploded across all segments.

This put a wealth of information at the fingertips of every consumer, creating tremendous demand for even more web content. Statistics suggest that close to 90 percent of consumers now research products online before they make a purchase, and more than 50 percent rely on user reviews prior to buying decisions. And online behaviors are getting more sophisticated across all age and income demographics. The fastest growing Facebook segment is women over 55.

2. The web has become a source of data.

Social media's explosion has given the consumer access to hundreds of trusted resources on Facebook or Twitter who are a click away from offering advice, an opinion, and rich data about themselves. There is value to be mined in this data and marketers are just now coming to understand the tools and techniques to explore it.

3. Consumers want to be communicated with, but on their own terms and in the channel they choose.

It's often not a single channel, but a general expectation that a brand can react to a request and deliver relevant content quickly, with no strings attached, in whatever channel (and device) that best fits the request at the moment. This can be an email, a website, a text message, or even a printed piece of material.

4. Velocity and relevant content become more important than the marketing calendar. There, we said it. But so did AdAge in a recent article highlighting a P&G program for Unilever. The rules have changed and marketers are now on the consumers' schedule. Planning marketing campaigns months in advance is giving way to a more nimble, "sense and respond" type of marketing program development.

What are you going to do about it?

If you haven't already, you need to find a platform architected for web and customer predominance in the marketing equation. And look for three critical elements essential to succeed in the new era of marketing execution: a relational database; a central rules repository for content and triggers; and the ability to execute a message across any channel.

Driven from the defined parameters of the marketing calendar, old marketing technology is being overwhelmed in the freewheeling world of new customer behaviors. But marketing built to thrive in a cross-channel universe can turn new customer behaviors to the marketer's advantage.

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About the Author: Paul Mandeville is the chief operating officer of Conversen. Contact him at