Direct marketing’s methodical, performance-dominated approach to targeting and segmentation left a commanding legacy. While they may no longer identify as ‘direct’ marketers, many practitioners continue to manufacture audience segments and propensity models based exclusively on reaching internal goals. So, while talking a good game about being ‘customer-driven’, they still find themselves thrusting brand messages at customers.

Based on campaign objectives, traditional orchestration executes executive decision-making at great scale. There’s no doubt that this works. But being campaign- or offer-based, it also tends to be short-termist, construing customers as targets. By association, we subscribe to a notion of ‘collateral damage’; perceived irrelevance stemming from our lack of accuracy. The casualties: fatigue, negative sentiment, missed opportunity and ultimately, lost customers. To the glee of newer direct-to-consumer brands in particular, today’s consumers are quick to vote with their feet. So unless marketers can grasp individual journeys across all touchpoints and all time, they face a destiny with diminishing returns.

Campaigns are far less effective at winning and retaining customers than they once were. To achieve sustainable competitive advantage, B2C marketers must deliver self-perpetuating cycles of real-time, two-way, insight-driven interactions with individual customers.

Forrester, ‘The Power of Customer Context’, December 2018

We need to think beyond the campaign. If brands genuinely seek to ‘put customers at the centre’, they need to invert their well-trodden approach – and spend more time listening to customer intent. This will inform an unfamiliar, yet pivotal question: is this the right thing to do for this particular individual?

Journey-based context is the only way to drive long-term engagement and commercial success

Journey-based customer context connects and interprets every individual’s motivations and experiences,…