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How Marketers Can Thrive in the Post Digital World

Posted on Mar 9th, 2017
Written by Lee Odden
In this article

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    Eric Yale Forrester DSPHX

    When I first heard Eric Yale from Forrester suggest at the Digital Summit conference that we live in a post digital world, I have to admit. I thought he was a bit nuts. Or just being sensational.

    I was wrong.

    If you’re thinking the same thing, here’s a rundown of what Eric said to provide some clarity.

    In today’s marketing world, it is increasingly important for brand and consumer interactions to be frictionless, anticipatory and immersive. This is what customers expect and in a post digital world, it’s what brands need to deliver.

    To understand what this means for marketing, Eric suggested that there are three fundamental reasons we are “post digital”.

    First, customers are entitled. With the proliferation of digital devices, customers have huge expectations from brands. The evolution of this expectation is centered in the growth of always addressable customers – that is, customers who use more than three devices from multiple physical locations to connect with a brand. These customers expect to see the right message in the right place at the right time. In 2011 it was 51% of US online adults and in 2016 that number has grown to 67%.

    Second, the digital distinction has dissolved. It’s no longer about what’s digital and what’s not.

    With 59% of consumers using mobile phones while shopping in a retail store, companies are beginning to experiment in ways that integrate mobile with physical. For example, digital dressing rooms in brick and mortar stores.

    Third, digital insights fuel business strategy. Digital insights are being used to inform marketing as well as overall business strategy across the enterprise.

    For example, Royal Caribbean’s digital bracelet streamlines onboarding and allows payment at stores on the ship. And John Hancock uses private Fitbits that collect data which can affect customer insurance pricing.

    So, what does post digital marketing look like?

    Eric says it’s about doing what you say – making good on your brand promise online and offline. It’s about making sure the customer has a great experience across the spectrum. It’s about a shift in thinking.

    Think of it this way: Instead of wondering what media you should buy, think about how you can solve customer problems. Or, instead of thinking only about what offer will drive a customer purchase, think about how you can reduce the stress of your customer’s decision process.

    This shift in perspective is important because legacy marketing manners don’t work any more:

    • 85% of consumers say advertising has little or no influence on their decisions
    • 43% of marketers still don’t know what marketing actually works

    To change your mindset, you have to think about what marketing actually is and reimagine the marketing function and your role within it. Also, think about how you participate in the rest of your company.

    To break it down, Eric, offered three rules for post-digital marketing:

    1. Be human. Use empathy to understand your customers and their experience. Be anticipatory in your efforts to serve customers and solve their problems.
    2. Be helpful. Focus on solving problems for your customers, not just selling products. For example, Staples turned the Easy Button into an app you can easily talk to to order office supplies. OpenTable is smart enough to send reminders to book a reservation for Valentine’s day before the Super Bowl.
    3. Be handy. Understanding and optimizing the customer experience is key to a frictionless solution. For example, Marriott launched their app for mobile check-ins and added the ability for hotel guests to make front desk requests from the app. After evaluating the most frequent types of calls to the front desk,  they made it possible to easily accomplish those asks through the app – from toiletries to more towels.

    Eric says the post digital world is already here – even if you’re still in the midst of digital transformation. A post-digital perspective might require a new mindset from legacy thinking, but with core rules like “be human”, “be helpful” and “be handy”, I think we can agree they are fundamental and certainly doable for most companies.

    Eric Yale @ericyale is Senior Consultant, Marketing and Strategy Practice at Forrester.

    If you are in the Los Angeles area April 4-5th, be sure to check out the next Digital Summit conference (#DSLA)

    Beverly Jackson of MGM will be giving the opening keynote and there will be a lunchtime interview keynote with Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple. For my part, I will be giving a closing keynote about the future of influencer marketing. There are many other top notch speakers presenting as well from Facebook, Pinterest, Google, LinkedIn, BET Networks, Adobe, Forbes, The Economist, AOL, BMC Software, MIT, Wells Fargo, The Onion and many more. Digital Summit is a can’t miss conference.

    Check out the DSLA website for the full agenda.