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Crossroads City.pngDialogue is the foundation of loyalty in the digital age.  According to the Oxford Dictionary, “Dialogue= a conversation between two or more people…” and the prefix: “Dia” = through or across.  True to this etymology, just look around you and consider how you, consumer, engage in dialogue with others.   How often are the brands, companies andproducts that you ‘like’ or even ‘love’ speaking to just you as a consumer? 

Recently in a research project at Medill School of Marketing or Northwestern University,newly minted marketing and sales professionals said they would avoid or reject offers they receive from a brand because they weren’t relevant.  And further, they’d avoid engaging with a brand when that practice extends to the social media channels since the brand becomes a time robber.

Technology Exists Today

But it doesn’ t have to be that way!   The same university students said that if the vast majority of offers were relevant to them ‘the consumer’ and them ‘the professional’, they would engage.

Your mobile device can tell a deep story to others about you by allowing for geo and other demographic information.  This information starts to paint a picture of your identity, and that identity enables a dialogue with you as a consumer and among others as consumers. With further social, mobile and other data collection and analysis –  brands can ascertain consumer behaviors.  And brands can then further predict consumer intention. 

Consumer Intimacy

Having that window on the world of intent yields – for companies – intimacy; and that intimacy plus relevance can evoke conversations and dialogue.   But in order to achieve this, brands have to get beyond the millennials’ radar for what they detect as ‘crap’ and be relevant to be heard.  So how do you get beyond this threshold to a greater level of personalized dialogue?

I remember as a child going to the same music store in our town – the shop keeper knew my family, my interests and often had that shiny new drum set ready to show me when I walked in.  They knew that my brother would be ready to test out the new electric guitar soon, and knew us by name. But today’s online shopping, device-based comparisons, and social product review forums make it a very different world, and that type of intimacy in our world today is… well, rare at best!

Can Consumers Engage in Dialogue with a Machine?

Remember, the consumer wants to receive only what is relevant to me – in my context and channel and at precisely the right time – and last but not least – the ability to learn and improve over time based on me.  Pair that with Time Magazine’s recent cover issue written by Joel Stein entitled: It’s All About Me Me Me and you’ll read about why these particular technological capabilities will marry very well with his assessment of human nature of the socially-enabled, digitally-armed consumer of today.

Real-Time Customer Response

What technology has enabled is real-time response based on an action that the consumer has taken: be it a purchase, a ‘like’, a ‘want’, or a real-time price
comparison during a showrooming jaunt. 
Having the context to glean insights from those actions – and to respond to that consumer with ubiquity in terms of channel or device, and continuity – is the challenge that companies are faced with today. 

As an example – if I receive an offer via email for 20% off of an item I buy in a retail store, I want to be able to use that same coupon if I buy that item online, or even pass at the point-of-sale without my coupon. It’s ME – Remember?

Optimizing Your ‘Smarts’ As A Social Brand

Each time a consumer posts feedback on an Amazon product page, posts a status update on a social network like Facebook, or geo-tags an image with Instagram, there is an opportunity for brands to respond, or to know not to respond. 

Over time and – with each interaction, companies and brands can learn more about how to be relevant and contextual to the needs of their customer.  And in so doing, they’ll be able to have a more meaningful dialogue with both existing and new customers alike. 

To hear more about personalized consumer dialogues, see me at #ASUG2013 and #SAPPHIRENOW 2013 in Orlando here.

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