Authenticity is proving to be an enduring concept for brands. At marketing forums, conference calls and team meetings, marketers are tackling the question of what it means to deliver authentic brand experiences.
Experts weigh in via articles such as Forbes’ Why Authenticity In Marketing Matters Now More Than Ever; MarTech Advisor’s How Marketers can Strive for Authenticity in 2018; and Business Insider’s The world’s top 20 most authentic brands. As with any buzz-worthy term, execution is the challenge.
Marketers today must deliver opportunities for customers and prospects to engage authentically with their brands. Before creating these moments, you must first understand the preferences, demographics, habits and lives of these individuals in a holistic manner. This requires being able to get insight into their journeys—every single touchpoint.
The answer lies in technology. Only with the right mar tech stack can you gather enough data, consolidate it, and sift through it with enough granularity to get actionable insight. Advanced attribution platforms consolidate all your data into a single view. More about that later. But first, let’s back up.
What Does “Authentic” Mean?
Authentic means keeping it real. Brands that are considered authentic are transparent about their business practices and are seen as consistent. They “walk and talk” and run their companies in a way that aligns with the messages they promote.
As consumers, we feel connected to and inspired by authentic brands. We want them to succeed and we prefer their products to others, even when they’re most expensive.
Companies perceived to be authentic build brand loyalty and tend to be more profitable. See: 5 Examples of Companies Making a Profit While Being Authentic. For example, Dove has been widely lauded for its Campaign for Real Beauty, which featured women who weren’t models and sparked conversation around unrealistic standards. Since the start of the campaign. Dove has seen sales grow from $2.5 billion to over $4 billion.
As brands are increasingly defined by the interactions people have with it, marketers will be held accountable for creating the most authentic, genuine experiences possible. This begs the question: what do you need to deliver an authentic experience?
Four Tactics to Deliver Authenticity
Today’s empowered consumer forces marketers to rethink their communication strategies. As consumers increasingly live their lives online, marketers need to deliver highly relevant and authentic experiences across every channel and device. If consumers don’t get it, they’ll take their business elsewhere.
There are four tactics marketers need to build authentic brands:
1. Focus on Real People
People-based marketing means making the individual—rather than a cookie or device ID—the focus of your marketing. Technology has advanced to the point where marketers now have the ability to turn the promise of people-based marketing into a day-to-day reality.
New platforms can integrate audience information and performance data from disparate systems to provide a single source of truth about marketing performance. This allows a people-based understanding of what content, offers, creative and other tactics work best for whom. Marketers need this type of intelligence to curate more authentic experiences that foster real connections with their customers and prospects.
2. Measure with Multi-Touch Attribution
A people-based marketing approach requires multi-touch attribution capabilities. Measuring the consumer journey across all addressable touchpoints – digital, mobile and physical – is just the beginning. True multi-touch attribution not only tracks each touchpoint, it assigns fractional credit to the channels and tactics that influenced the desired business outcome.
Multi-touch attribution lets you take advantage of the unique set of data produced by addressable channels to understand effectiveness at granular levels, by audience, and at a much faster cadence. It’s the difference between understanding how TV, print, radio, email and paid social impacted sales last quarter, and which display ad worked best yesterday to drive in-store sales, so you can boost ad spend for the winners while the campaign is still in-flight.
With a clear understanding of the touchpoints that drive performance, you can make smarter investment decisions that create an authentic experience across the entire consumer journey.
3. Align Teams With the Consumer
Many marketing organizations still operate in silos that are split across products, brands and/or channels. Individuals, teams and their agencies work independently of each other, with their own set of metrics to measure engagement, conversions, and revenue.
Silos like these are inefficient, leading to duplication and waste. As each channel manager executes on his or her marketing activities, they work alongside all the other channels, but not in cooperation. Picture a pool in which the water polo players are each swimming in their own lanes instead of passing and defending in formation. It’s really hard to score a goal that way.
Brands working in silos can’t help but create disjointed (and less authentic) experiences for consumers. Delivering authentic experiences requires more than just integrating data from disparate systems; it also means rethinking traditional marketing structures.
Authentic brands are shifting their marketing organizations away from isolated channel silos towards cross-functional teams that can ensure experiences are synchronized across every interaction from first touch through to final conversion. This allows marketers to create authentic rapport with customers and prospects that builds loyalty and more profitable relationships.
4. Scale Up with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Household-name brands spend multiple millions on marketing and media, have millions of customers, and have large marketing operations.
It is beyond the abilities of most humans, with the possible exception of the late Stephen Hawking, to synthesize the amount of information generated by consumer interactions with these brands. Even small to mid-sized organizations are swamped with data.
Martech is evolving to meet this need. The newest generation of marketing technology uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help marketers make sense of their data. With these techniques, marketers can now target, measure and optimize their marketing and advertising at the level of real people—a task that was previously impossible for humans simply because of the scale and complexity of the data.
These AI and ML-based tools enable marketers to greatly improve experiences and deliver the authentic, one-on-one interactions that consumers demand.
Marketing Intelligence Builds Authenticity
To build authenticity, brands today must shift from traditional models—of teams, technology and tactics—to data-driven ones. It starts when every member of your team and your agency partners have a holistic picture of performance so you can work together toward shared goals.
Is it possible to get by with business as usual? Sure, but to compete long-term, brands must rethink how they can create the most authentic, genuine experiences possible.
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