The Pervasive Internet Changes Everything

Image by Liam Liberty

The Internet is everywhere. You know I’m a big proponent of integrated marketing, but the very nature of the pervasive Internet will force marketers to integrate experiences or suffer dwindling results.

Cheap mobile broadband makes this possible. Where ever a customer is, they can find out more information and make purchases on demand.

We cannot escape the fact that marketing has to take into account the very real relevancy of now. All marketing information is in play, including articles about your product, web site, inventories, store locations, and customer reviews on demand.

If your company’s communications are siloed, and customers get different stories from a) your communications channels, b) what’s being said about you by media and influencers, and c) customers also have a different story, then you’ll lose opportunities.

We went car shopping over the weekend (we bought a new Subaru CrossTrek), and found our shopping experience was dramatically shaped by access to media, customer and dealer information on the Internet, including our mobile experience.

In one case, we dropped a popular car brand because of customer reviews. In another case, improved customer reviews about a second year model and mobile friendly access to dealer inventory caused us to visit the lot, and keep a second brand’s auto in the mix until the very end.

One of the key buying decisions revolved around Internet connectivity in the vehicles. Which would make accessing online information safely while driving.

Pervasive data and information, the true game changer for marketing.

Retooling Marketing Thought

Greg Verdino
xPotomac Speaker Greg Verdino

Digital ubiquity will only increase over the next few years with faster mobile networks speed and new technological interfaces. We have to consider how digital ubiquity changes the way strategists think about their marketing programs, both on and offline.

Marketing Futurist and former crayon CMO Greg Verdino recently joined the xPotomac speaking roster to discuss Digital Ubiquity. His session on February 25 will provide intelligence to marketers seeking clues towards this new everywhere environment.

I asked Greg his thoughts on the topic:

“Clearly, the distinction between online and off becomes more blurred than it is today, ultimately becoming meaningless. But I think that there are some even bigger changes that will be accelerated by digital ubiquity.

“When we talk about digital ubiquity, we’re talking about a state I like to call the hyper-networked now. This is about more than just online vs. offline. And it’s certainly much, much bigger than just social.

“It’s analog, digital, social and mobile. It’s always-on, instant-on, and everywhere-all-at-once. That may sound like rhetoric but it’s not – and the changes digital ubiquity will require of marketers are profound. Let’s look at just one big shift…

“We’re already witnessing a shift from a product economy to a service economy. Why own your music when you can access music you don’t own through Spotify? If you live in a major city, why own a car when Zipcar can provide you with access to an auto-as-a-service?

“But when consumers are literally connected to the web, to companies, and through each others all the time through all sorts of networked devices (not just computers, tablets and smartphones but kitchen appliances, houses, streets and shoes) business models will undergo a further shift from service to experiences. By this I mean: products plus services plus content, all driven by access to (and analysis) of rich datastreams, designed to work together and super-serve key segments by meeting unmet needs in ways that exceed expectations.”

The Customer Experience Will Drive Change

Geoff Livingston and Greg Verdino
Greg Verdino is my bald brother from another mother

At the core of this change will be understanding how uniquely changes customer experiences. Just like my auto buying experience, brands have to transcend physical to online and back again across many diverse media.

What does this mean from the customer experience standpoint? Greg added some more insights:

“I assume this is a trick question, since any effective marketing strategist must always view the landscape through the lens of customer experience.

“But in terms of what we can expect as consumers, I think we can expect hyper-personalization of products, services and experiences; solutions that learn through behavior and evolve to better suit our needs; a truly channel- and platform-agnostic approach to the way brands engage and serve customers across all online and offline touch points; and a marked increase in a pattern wherein people realize exponentially more value from brands when they choose to become or remain loyal to those brands across a fuller range of products, services and experiences.

“Consider the functionally integrated Apple ecosystem today: As a consumer, you capture more value from usage of multiple devices and services – say, your Macbook Pro, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, iCloud plus Apple TV – than just the simple combination of hardware and software might imply. In the very near future, we’ll see this dynamic play out not only from early innovators like Apple and Google and Nike, but from just about every corporation we reward with our business to matter how mundane their products or services.

“On paper this may sound like brands will finally deliver on a promise of exactly what I want, when and where I want it. But of course it won’t all be upside.

“We may not want corporations to know us quite that well, and if present day Big Data or even just constantly changing Facebook controls raise concerns, privacy watch dogs will have a field day when literally everything has the ability to capture, transmit, and even crunch data about us and our behaviors.”

What do you think?

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  • +1 Your first sentence had me: “the pervasive Internet will force marketers to integrate experiences” — it’s the mantra I’m working on driving within my own organization and with our clients. Focusing on the customer as well (your second sub-header) doesn’t often lead you astray either.


    • Yes, it’s hard to screw up when you build around the customer lens. And it is a good mantra to drive home!

  • Wholeheartedly agree that customer experiences are creating the social proof required by businesses to sell products. The real question is when will business understand this – and actually do something about it?

    The culture change required to even think this way is almost insurmountable when most make decisions based on managing shareholder value rather than customer value.

    It’s a strategic and tactical advantage for start ups however.

    • I agree, public companies are in deep dog doo with this. In fact, you see public companies that are customer centric get punished by Wall Street for making long term decisions that sacrifice short term profits.

      I’m not a big proponent of Google+ but shareholders are not thinking when they punish Google for integrating all of its products into a central service hub. It will make for a better ad property regardless of +’s end place in the market. We’ve seen Starbucks punished in the past, too.

  • Bring on the Singularity! I, for one, welcome our Anonymous overlords! ;)

    A couple additional thoughts on this one. I’m hopeful the pervasiveness of the internet and a society growing more and more accustomed to always-on, realtime access to independent information will finally start forcing brands to live up to the promises they make with their marketing. The message will either be the truth or will fall on deaf ears.

    At the same time, all this always-on, in-your-face information is the proverbial fire hose. It’s fun to have a drink now and then, it gets old real quick. The laggards are finally catching on to the potential of online reputation, but the early adopters are starting to see a need to advocate the hybrid; balancing public and private on the web just as we do IRL.

    The web is fast becoming IRL. The near term is exactly as you and Greg see it – the message must be consistent across channels, some of which the brand has no control over. Beyond that, however, I think we’re going to see people begin to hold their cards closer, and brands are going to have to go beyond message and reach. The always-on, “IRL 2.0” crowd is going to demand less intrusion from brands, regardless of how consistent the message might be.

    • Yeah, I think you nailed it with the IRL comment. There is no difference anymore. It’s become the endless pocket notebook with us, reminding us, giving us information, taking information. The other thing is that brands as you say are facing the ultimate permission environment with mobile. As input becomes less visual and more verbal, advertising will be harder to place, too. It promises to be very interesting…

      • Yup. It’s going to get to the point – hopefully – where there will be next to zero ROI without permission. In which case your points above on message and channel will become hyper-critical. Getting the message wrong will quickly erode trust, resulting in walls going up. Game over, shills.

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