Customer expectations are changing faster than companies can adapt to meet their needs. On one side, there are massive amounts of big data coming in from mobile, social and digital touchpoints providing a deeper look into customer emotions, behaviors and motivations. And on the other side, digital experiences are being designed that take the customer’s view to create meaningful brand content. Sounds good right?
Unfortunately, there is still a gap between the art and science of brand strategy. Somewhere along the race to deliver personalized marketing at scale, businesses have lost sight of the soul of the experience. This uncharted territory can be found where scientific thinking and non-linear creativity come together to build brand loyalty and drive greater demand. It’s where creative intuition uncovers the human element and provides meaningful connections.
The Urgency for Data-Inspired Creative
The speed at which companies convert customer insights into action is the critical differentiator in today’s highly competitive marketplace. The velocity needed to deliver innovative digital experiences is accelerating to win the hearts and minds of customers which prompted Marc Andreessen to tweet, “Cycle time compression may be the most underestimated force in determining winners & losers in tech.”
How it Works Now
Typically, market research and customer insights live inside the business with creative execution being supported by external agencies. This creates a broken feedback loop because the creatives don’t have full view into the customer insights.
Most creative teams follow a linear approach of spending six months to gather user research, several more to analyze the insights, then longer to execute. The response time needed to stay competitive can only be accomplished by closing the gap between the data inputs and the creative outputs.
Setting the Stage for Success
A strong strategic direction must be clearly articulated to show what the future looks like from the customer, competitive and internal points of view. Having an integrated approach where big data insights and creative teams work side-by-side requires culture change to transform into an experience-driven organization.
1) Creating a Culture of Experimentation
A framework that uses design thinking will bring deep customer empathy and generate more actionable ideas. Brands should start by using ‘small’ data — which is dataset containing very specific attributes — to prototype well-defined experiments with time-boxed constraints to generate small wins. These achievements can build a bond between the marketing and data science teams, empowering the brand to take more creative risks.
2) Outlining Clear Expectations
Ideas must be protected within a creative space where they are allowed to grow in a collaborative, nurturing environment. Putting guardrails into place will focus the creative direction towards the point where customer needs meet business objectives. Corporate priority projects can be accomplished using an integrated data/creative team with well-defined roles, responsibilities and key performance objectives.
3) Changing the Approach
An agile method of experience design allows for quick iterative changes and optimized brand creative. With ongoing testing and analytics, the improvement opportunities will become greater and greater.
Where’s all this going?
Change is uncomfortable and difficult, but a necessary part of growth. With the rapid pace of consumer tech adoption and customer expectations increasing, companies must adapt to create brand loyalty or relinquish market share to competitors that deliver inspired digital experiences.