Have you been staring down the poor ROI or bad response rate to your marketing campaign? Ask yourself, “What was in it for the customer?” Once a golden rule of marketing is unfortunately the forgotten part of today’s ever-so-clever ways of interrupting the customer journey through AI & ML techniques, look alike modelling & predictive analytics.

“What’s in it for the customer?” is a question that begs to be asked when marketers are looking to snoop around every nook and corner of the web, to scoop up data to manipulate the customer journey. Taking advantage of gullible customers are marketers with nefarious designs of increasing performance KPIs like CTRs, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’, achieving them at the cost of deteriorating customer experience. The here-and-now approach weighing down long-term perspective of customer relationships.

In the age of connected customer, brands are ever so closely connected to the customer, yet have very little actionable insight about them. More the data that we have pertaining to customers, the less we actually seem to understand them. More the technology available in customer activation, lower seems the customer engagement. Why the paradox? Instead of cutting through the deluge, digital marketers are adding to the clutter by deploying me-too tactics that add little value to the customer, both in terms of experience and return on time spent with marketing content.

On the other hand, the customer has learnt to ignore these interruptions. The technology and techniques to interrupt the customer have leapfrogged the pace of adoption amongst the marketers. The result: highly inefficient marketing gimmicks that do not deliver any real-world value to the customers, poor returns on investment to the marketers with only media companies winning the game.

Where the gimmicks of technology – like creating a new filter on Instagram – fail is to create lasting bonds that bind the customer to the brand, content may be your currency, but if you cannot solve customers’ problems,, deliver real-world value, you are getting nowhere. Why should the customer engage with a brand on a sustained basis is the question that must be answered.

If you are happy posting stuff for likes and shares and offer no real value beyond that, customers are bound to lose interest as there are more practical issues and considerations that occupy their mind-space. If you need mindshare, then you better appeal to their rational side at the least – emotional is league apart, as very few can actually think in that dimension, let alone practice it.

Let us change the game, shall we? It is not about how much data pertaining to the customer we have, it is about the depth of customer insight that generates results. With increasing focus on data-driven marketing, the personal touch of the empathetic marketer has gone missing. Gone are the days where people used to wait for a specific ad on TV, watching it repeatedly, kindling the emotion it triggers. Today, customers despise the time wasted due to content that is designed to satisfy bots and not humans.

To deliver a consistent, differentiated and personalized experience each time the customer bumps into you on the web, you need a combination of human empathy and machine accuracy; a combination of human instincts and artificial intelligence to create a perfect balance – where art meets science.

Finally, if any of you marketers are wondering why you have not been able to deliver expected results in spite of having the best of the marketing technology – ask yourself, “What’s in it for the customer?”


Venkatesh Kidambi Technical Architect

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