Companies are spending more money than ever on marketing analytics and mobile ads, and this spending trend is expected to increase in the next few years. The outlay for these two things is linked. Most marketers understand how much traffic they receive from mobile devices and the types of devices their visitors use, but many are lagging behind in tracking users across different channels and identifying the same users across desktop and mobile app usage. This data is vital as marketers operate in changing technologies, because understanding how customers engage with the brand allows greater efficiency in targeting ads and better marketing campaigns.

Understanding how customers arrive at a purchasing decision allows companies to spend marketing money wisely. Without the right cross-channel analytics, companies are left without the resources they need to make those decisions. A customer’s purchasing journey may start with a TV ad, but the path rarely goes directly to the store from there. Customers may research a brand and its competitors online, often on multiple devices. They may interact with a mobile ad on their phones or tablets. While on their mobile devices or computers, they might get good word-of-mouth reviews from their social media networks. As interest grows, targeted ads keep customers reminded of the brand, which may then culminate in a purchasing decision.

Without the right cross-channel analytics, brands do not have the data they need to perform this kind of targeted marketing, according to three separate polls of marketers conducted in March 2015 by Econsultancy, Signal and ResponseTap. The results highlight only about half of marketers understand the way that mobile usage factors into the customer’s purchase journey. Even fewer could track customers across different devices or understand the specifics of how their customers differentiate between their tablet usage and smartphone usage. A mere 5 percent stated that they had a seamless, cross-channel integration of all customer touchpoints that provided them sufficient information to exploit opportunities effectively. Approximately one-fourth of the respondents were using channel-focused integration techniques rather than customer-focused integrations. About a quarter reported customer touchpoints focused on a single channel or device, which eliminates the cross-channel marketing opportunities necessary to keep customers engaged.

These shortcomings make creating a targeted approach difficult. Creating a personalized experience can only be done if the same customer can be tracked from device to device and if those ads can be adjusted to fit the user’s individual tablet or smartphone experience.

It is rare for companies to even have an adequate, single view of their customers in analytics. Over half of the marketers surveyed reported having no such view; only 6 percent of the respondents could say they did. Without this information, marketers cannot accurately state which ad campaigns produced results, nor understand which channel is more important — or less important — in a customer’s purchase journey. This results in overspending on ineffective marketing. It also subjects marketers to the risk of incorrect targeting that has the potential to annoy or alienate the recipients.

Marketing must move away from where it is done and move into the domain of for whom it is done. In other words, marketers must emphasize people rather than devices, and they must have a complete view of the customer’s behaviors and attitudes to make targeted marketing work. New marketing technologies and smart devices make it easier than ever to target and personalize campaigns to the individual. The individual, however, interacts with brands in a variety of ways across several screens and online and offline sources. Without the knowledge of where that interaction takes the customer, marketing is still stuck in an expensive and inefficient single channel approach.

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