As sophisticated a practice as people-based marketing is, it’s also a powerful reminder of a basic truth: Customers are the lifeblood of any business. That means customers should also be at the center of a brand’s strategy for people-based marketing and measurement, says Katie Morse, vice president, digital marketing, at Nielsen.
“Companies have always needed to reach customers with the right message at the right time on the right platform, and they’ve always needed to provide a positive experience in order to create loyal customers,” she says. “What’s changed is that companies now have many more ways to discern the needs of their customers, and the choice of many more ways to reach them.”
We interviewed Morse to find out her insights on people-based marketing. As digital marketing VP, she leads social media, search marketing, and analytics initiatives for Nielsen’s global marketing team. She also provides guidance and counsel to marketing, communications, data-science, and operations teams around the world for proactive consumer marketing efforts and reputation management issues.
Morse joined the company in 2014, having worked on digital marketing initiatives for brands including American Express, Radian6, and Billboard. (Her comments are based on her experience as a practitioner within the digital marketing team at Nielsen and do not represent her company's position.)
Here are excerpts from our interview with Nielsen’s Katie Morse. To read the complete interview and learn what other experts recommend for a people-based approach, download our ebook: 8 Experts on How to Measure People-Based Marketing Impact.
Create Loyal Customers with People-Based Marketing
Many consumers today are very aware of how they can interact and share information with brands and institutions. Morse believes companies should first understand consumers’ patterns and norms before setting specific goals and objectives for marketing campaigns. This will prevent a fundamental mismatch between how consumers choose to share information and what key performance indicators and supporting data points are designed to track.
If goals are misaligned, then the brand will struggle—either to achieve its objectives or prove its accomplishments to leadership. By first understanding customers’ preferences and how these vary among consumer groups, a company can devise a strategy that’s more likely to succeed.
A key step in streamlining the customer experience, then, is understanding how customers interact with a brand at every touchpoint.
“Customers will show you, based on the data you’re collecting—or the data you’re not able to collect—what their wants are with regards to privacy, and you have an obligation to stay true to them,” Morse notes. Brands that try to impose a specific type of experience on customers—one that’s based on what the brands want customers to do rather than how their consumers want to interact with their brand—risk turning customers off. Morse recommends brands take a different approach. “Instead of considering customer preferences as a barrier, create the strategy with your customer at the center and make sure every plan follows that guiding light.”
In her more than a decade as a marketer, Morse has seen that brands have a multitude of tools for delivering high-quality experiences to consumers. Ironically, however, these solutions can also lead to new problems. “If the systems your company depends on to optimize each stage of the customer journey can’t communicate with each other, you’re only going to have a more difficult time providing a really great customer experience,” she says.
Understand Every Touchpoint
A key step in streamlining the customer experience, then, is understanding how customers interact with a brand at every touchpoint. “Figure out where and how the customer experience starts, as well as how you want it to start,” Morse suggests.
After mapping your customer experience across the entire journey back to each system that houses information about those interactions, a crucial next step is to share that information with all company leaders responsible for those touchpoints. That kind of sharing may be a new practice at some companies, but it’s essential for setting effective strategy and achieving company goals.
Ideally, companies will also have invested in technology that can tie many of these discrete systems together where possible, so that important information is passed along through the customer journey. Sharing data internally can also help brands understand how their customers are evolving and how their tastes and preferences are changing.
Morse acknowledges this is never easy and that it can raise important data privacy questions. These questions must be addressed not only once, but on an ongoing basis, since the customer’s use of technology evolves over time.
Ultimately, Morse concludes, customers have always been at the center of a company’s strategy. Now, companies have more opportunity than ever before to use the information their customers share with them to ensure their brand is meeting and exceeding expectations at every stage of the customer journey.
To read the complete interview and see what experts recommend for a people-based approach, download our ebook: 8 Experts on How to Measure People-Based Marketing Impact.
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