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Writing in the April 2013 edition of the McKinsey Quarterly, Peter Dahlström and David Edelman predict, “Marketing is headed toward being on demand—not just always ‘on,’ but also always relevant, responsive to the consumer’s desire for marketing that cuts through the noise with pinpoint delivery.”

Dahlström and Edelman are spot-on in describing how consumer demands will rise in response to technology. They will want to interact anywhere at any time, do new things in response to information that creates value for them, they’ll expect all data stored about them to be targeted precisely to their needs or used to personalize their buying experience, and they’ll expect all interactions to be easy.

Meeting those expectations promises to be an exciting and worthy challenge for data-driven marketers, but the trick to maneuvering this potential minefield of consumer wants will be to be proactive, not reactive.

Here are three things you need to consider as you attempt to make the most of the customer demands your data can uncover:

Be obsessive about understanding your customer behavior

Never before has it been so critical to create a singular view of the customer. Internal teams and agency partners must pull together to work more cohesively, because without seamless insight-sharing, larger organizations can miss the opportunity to respond to changing consumer motivations because reporting functionality is so slow.

Marketing teams that aren’t already working closely with multiple stakeholders across their organizations will lose the opportunity to iterate strategically, in real time, because their data is sitting in silos across different areas of the organization.

When mobile, social, SEO/SEM and offline data are walled-off from each other, marketers aren’t able to make quick reactions to opportunities to give consumers what they expect. And when those consumers — who are increasingly empowered by unprecedented flows of granular purchase-decision information — see that a brand is not reacting quickly enough to them, they’ll move on to a brand that will.

Don’t over react, adapt

The danger of being able to turn on a dime with your customer is that marketing organizations could get too reactive. Strategy needs to be adaptive, but you can’t just focus on quick course corrections because you’ll quickly lose sight of the end goal and your strategy will devolve into chaos.

Having the right level of responsiveness does not mean turning over marketing decisions to data. That’s a sure path to ending up with a disorganized collection of one-off tactics that could be just as damaging to your organization as doing nothing at all.

Adapting to consumer demands will require CMOs to take a strong leadership role and make sure their organization doesn’t lose sight of both short- and long-term KPIs. As always, the CMO will have to balance sales with continuous monitoring of things like customer preference, sentiment and return on investment.

Share the wealth of data driven insights

So you’ve completed the rigorous process of bringing your internal and external marketing teams together and understanding which data sets you need to mine for consumer insights. Now, don’t make the mistake of keeping it to yourself.

Get those rich customer observations to other key stakeholders in your organization, they can be useful to your customer service and sales departments and any other part of the organization that can strengthen its performance by better understanding the customer.

If your data doesn’t live up to that potential, you’ve got an excellent start for conversations about what your organization needs to learn and how to get that information to the right people, at the right time, to enhance decision-making.

Think of this new chapter in the marketer-customer relationship as just-in-time marketing — a more nuanced system of near-real-time response to viable business opportunities sure to keep today’s always-on, ever-informed consumers engaged, interacting and buying your products and services.



Barb Kittridge is Chief Marketing Officer of Cardinal Path, a dedicated team of passionate, award winning analysts, statisticians, academics, leading developers, and some of the top minds in the digital marketing space. Cardinal Path helps its clients unlock the value of their data across a wide digital footprint, sharing all that we know and empowering confident decision making that creates sustainable growth.