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Winning hearts, minds, and the market with marketing activation

Tim van der Galiën
5 Sep 2022

To win in today’s fast-paced market, marketing leaders must develop deep relationships with their customers by delivering best-in-class, consistent experiences across multiple touchpoints through personalized marketing activation initiatives. Taking their brand to the next level.

To take a brand to the next level, design, technology, data and continuously optimizing performance are needed to be a premier brand in customer interaction and engagement. All to ensure and activate the highest brand value to create a loyal customer base who are willing to go the extra mile. However, concurrently exploiting existing marketing channels to the fullest, and exploring new marketing activation methods or channels, is a hard nut to crack. Begging the question, where to start?

Evolving customer experiences renew marketing activation practices

Reflecting on the experiences of top-tier marketing teams, it is crucial to focus on the customer experience. To get a deeper understanding of the customer needs, all steps and touchpoints should match the brand value. If properly executed and coordinated, a marketing activation program can measure, and be used to strategically plan, to meet the key marketing and business objectives, within deadlines. Thus, providing marketing leaders with a structure to execute their marketing mix, through short-term marketing activation or long-term marketing activation. Where the short term is focused on the now e.g., providing discounts to generate sales, while the long term focuses on creating an emotional connection between the brand and consumer to raise brand equity.

Across different industries, we can see that long-term marketing activation and increasing the customer lifecycle value are especially challenging. Continuously changing consumer demands drive the need for firms to remain relevant to their customers over time. Meaning that the customer experiences need to be daily revised to meet the changing context. One way to do so is to enrich physical touchpoints with digital layers of experience, creating a Phygital customer experience. To deliver a Phygital experience, marketing leaders need to understand how customers experience their brand in both digital and in-store environments, aligning marketing with new fields of play. A great marketing activation program that adapted to the Phygital customer experience is Nike. Nike created the Nikeland Roblox experience for its flagship store in New York City. Pivoting into the future of sales and marketing by offering fully interactive games, showrooms, and unique items for purchase. Nike is hereby generating new income streams (short-term brand activation), as building intimate relationships with their (young-) customer bases (long-term brand activation).

Cultivate engagement through insightful content that speaks to customer needs

Not one customer is the same which requires the segmentation of audiences based on insight generation and data intelligence to realize a frictionless and personalized marketing activation strategy. A flawless distribution and optimization of content based on a real-time understanding of the customer’s needs is what personalized customer activation is about. It’s about showing your customers that you truly understand their needs and can walk a day (or more) in their shoes.

Only purposeful content allows brands to thrive

Personalization alone, however, does not suffice. No, customers want their favourite brands to share their values, convictions, and preoccupations. Thus, to create intimate relationships with their customer base(s), marketing leaders need to empathize with customers on a one-on-one level. Hereby delivering purposeful brands that create societal value and which are put into action internally, externally, and, deep within the supply chain. Meaning that marketing leaders need to transform, or craft, a unified and customer-centric marketing activation program that enables consistent, relevant, and engaging experiences across all channels and touchpoints.

“We currently live in a world that is content rich, yet attention starved. There is an unprecedented and accelerating demand for engaging and personalized content, across more channels, in more formats, and in real-time. This is the content explosion.”

Data is the cornerstone for brand development

Within a customer-centric marketing organization, customer success is at the heart of all strategies, tactics, and initiatives. Customer success, which focuses on the relationship between firm and customer, ensures that customers obtain their looked-for results when dealing with a company’s services, products, or overall brand. It is thus of the highest importance for all (marketing) leaders to have a clear understanding of how to achieve customer success.

The answer? The data that exists within the ecosystem surrounding your firm (e.g., customers, suppliers, distributors, competitors). Through AI-enhanced data collection across digital and physical touchpoints, marketing teams can take better decisions regarding the targeted implementation and strategic orchestration of initiatives in real-time. Resulting in both business and customer benefits, where marketers maximize the efficiency, impact, and ROI of their marketing activation programs. Whereas target customers enjoy an effortless, personalized, and relevant customer journey.

Agile Media investments

Nowadays marketing leaders constantly grapple between delivering hyper-personalized content and their customers’ intensifying desire for their anonymity, and global data regulations. Driven by said regulations, Apple & Google put third-party cookies (and thus, tracking capabilities) to bed. Leaving marketers with an everlasting desire for the good old days; drowsing about how retargeting (customers who’ve visited your website earlier) and lookalike audiences (potential customers that “look-a-like” to existing customers) delivered strong ROI. Thus, drastically impacting the ability of marketers to track, analyze and target users online, and pushing them towards “zero-party” data. As zero-party might suggest, this is where the customer intentionally shares information directly with the brand for value exchange. For example, Lay’s yearly contest asks customers to co-create their favorite flavor of crisps.

So, what can be done to make the new zero-party data practices outshine the old (digital) marketing practices? The answers lie within the center of marketing: building a new relationship with your cross-channel active customers, in which there is mutual benefit around sharing personal data & preferences. Looking at top-performing brands, primarily follow an agile media investment method, which allows them to quickly adapt their campaigns and content placements across channels, websites, and devices. Leading to for example significant marketing investments in the Metaverse – an immersive virtual environment that is quickly taking over the internet and younger generations. Crucially, however, is to prioritize marketing investments by evaluating a channel’s effectiveness in terms of desired customer experiences. Go in light, upscale quickly when successful, or smoothly exit without extreme capital losses.

Measuring performance

Deploying a specific marketing activation initiative depends on knowing when your overall marketing mix, or marketing investment, is “successful”? Marketing leaders struggle with aligning marketing metrics with business metrics, such as content awareness and reaching our favorite strategic measures, instead of customer lifecycle value or ROI. Marketing ROI relies on capturing performance data to attribute profit and revenue growth while measuring the impact of marketing initiatives and giving insights to improve budget allocation. In the evolving market conditions, it is of paramount importance as a marketing leader to set relevant performance KPIs that track your marketing activation’s performance against business goals.

Where to start with Marketing Activation?

Most consumer product companies know their environment is changing daily but knowing changing trends does not suffice. The challenge is to know where the trends are heading before your competitors. Implying the need to understand how to scrutinize data and insights, and how to orchestrate a swift, consistent, and hyper-personalized response through multiple (new-) touchpoints. Bear in mind that short-term brand activations need to be aligned with your overall long-term brand activation strategy to create solid, yet profitable, relationships with your customers.

There are many opportunities to grow your business through marketing activation further. If you are looking for where to start; feel free to get in contact with us or one of our colleagues. Or read more blogs about marketing here

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Our Experts

Tim van der Galiën

Senior ManagerConnected Marketing at frog, part of Capgemini Invent
Tim is responsible for the strategic marketing offering within frog, part of Capgemini Invent. He is an expert in marketing transformation & customer strategy and helps brands build bridges between people, data and technology.