With every advancement in the mobile experience, and with the average consumer spending 37% of their online time using a mobile device, it's becoming increasingly hard for marketers to piece together what their customers are doing, according to Russell Loarridge, EU managing director for Janrain, who here explains the importance of marketing continuity and creating a truly unified view of the customer. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

Today's marketer looks holistically at the entire customer experience, but the customer experience is increasingly fragmented. Customers have multiple devices, interact with campaigns in unpredictable ways, and don't follow the 'ideal' path that the marketer has carefully constructed.

Furthermore, the technical challenges associated with engaging and interacting with customers on mobile create problems with tracking and attribution, especially in native apps where cookies are useless, and many traditional methods for tracking customer activity are rendered ineffective.

This means that the marketer's key challenge is knowing as much about their customers as possible, and connecting data from different sources to a unique, known individual in order to make informed decisions, and provide offers and messaging relevant to that customer.

Marketing Continuity
Marketing Continuity describes the connected insights that marketers must enable across their marketing and business systems.

Marketing Continuity is a framework for creating a flexible customer experience that moves a user through a deepening relationship with the brand.

It starts with a defined customer journey, but then allows individual customers to diverge from the defined path, and customise their journey. All of these elements must work:

  1. across devices;
  2. across channels;
  3. across business systems;
  4. for analytics and attribution.

With these capabilities, the brand can know exactly who the individual is when he or she interacts with it - whether it's on a mobile app, the website CMS, the e-commerce platform, commenting system, or analytics solution.

So each time the brand wants to make a decision about whether to want to send something to an individual, they can consider all of that person's actions across their system, and across his or her devices. What this means for the individual consumer is an experience that is relevant, personalised and unified across all devices.

It's harder than it sounds
CMOs are directing marketing teams to "get a complete unified view of our customers". But the complexities of the problem start to emerge rapidly once you dig in. For example:

  • How much of the system relies on cookies, and therefore struggles on mobile?
  • Are you prepared for a future where browsers disable 3rd party cookies by default?
  • How many different databases are you storing customer data in?
  • What are the front end and back end considerations of identity resolution?
  • Do all of those databases talk to one another?
  • How many of those databases share the same customer profile, so that you can identify a user across your different systems?

Marketers have become much better at storing data about customers and their behaviour, but how much of that data is actionable? How can it be used to make a customer's experience easier or more valuable? Can it be leveraged by marketers without relying on IT resources and complex querying and matching, or without the aid of a dedicated data scientist? These are huge barriers for most organisations.

Mobile first!
Despite these barriers, making Marketing Continuity work across devices presents the biggest opportunity for many organisations. The first big steps to achieving this continuity are to know the user everywhere, and connecting the data about that user on the back end. Optimising mobile login and encouraging a logged in state can solve the former - even across devices and within mobile apps, where cookies are useless.

Tying the data together on the back end can be simplified by a customer profile management solution that stores user data in a single profile that is used throughout the marketing and business systems.

"Marketing continuity is a critical framework to enable a modern customer experience," concluded Loarridge. "And there is no going back. Mobile devices are giving more people more access to more information than at any other time in human history. The successful organisations will not only optimise their sites, apps and experiences for mobile, but they will also optimise the registration, login and identity management elements as well."

As customers increasingly interact across mobile devices, connecting those interactions to unique customers will be critical to successfully turning what has to date been a more anonymous interaction into a relationship with a customer you know, whose needs you are meeting, and who appreciates the experience you have worked hard to offer.