2014-10-June-Spongebob-Attacks.jpgWe've all been there: After buying something a bit goofy on Amazon or another online retailer -- like a SpongeBob DVD box set for your kids -- related merchandise chases you around the Internet with vexing results.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Anticipating people’s next moves online can vastly improve the user experience and is the holy grail of digital commerce. Usage of data and marketing is becoming sophisticated enough to mine people’s interests and social signals, and serve them what they are looking for at the right moment. And customers’ offline, online, mobile, desktop and brick-and-mortar experiences all come into play.

Age of the Customer, Age of Engagement

It's no secret that we are in the age of the customer.

Customers can (and do) provide unfiltered, real-time feedback on your products and services through mobile devices and social media channels. These empowered customers expect brands to view and communicate with them as individuals. The result of this consumer power is that it has become extremely difficult for companies to deliver a seamless, exceptional experience across multiple channels to drive deep engagement with prospects and customers. And in recent research conducted by Econsultancy, 89 percent of company respondents and 96 percent of agency respondents stated that a great customer experience is a key requirement for driving brand loyalty.

That’s where engagement automation comes in. Engagement automation lets you orchestrate a consistent conversation no matter where and how your customer engages with your brand, streamlining transitions and interactions across channels to improve conversions.

Delivering One-to-One Marketing in Practice

Consider the airline industry. A customer can purchase airfare from one of the big airlines, and the carrier can then choose to act on that data to better service the customer at curbside, check-in and in flight. It’s possible to even pipe that information to a wearable computing device worn by service representatives so they can tailor offers on the fly.

Maybe the customer has been shopping on their mobile device before making a purchase on an airline app, and the customer is a good candidate for duty-free shopping suggestions. Perhaps golf clubs were checked in, and there’s a golf course deal at the final destination to recommend. Such data points are where marketing and sales converge, and there’s more information in a mobile apps era. By creating this frictionless customer experience, the customer becomes more likely to fly with the brand again and more likely to tell others about the brand -- increasing the customer’s lifetime value, and generating attractive, long-term ROI.