When it comes to modern search and customer experience, most brands’ priority is to grow their online presence and performance across both organic and paid results.
But in such a dynamic environment with opportunities for interactions across multiple platforms and devices well beyond these two channels, developing effective long-term strategies requires a higher level of maturity and complexity. The broad opportunity for brands and marketers lies in integration – particularly for businesses whose internal departments and marketing channels are still working as separate silos.
Digital success to date has largely relied upon advertisers’ ability to target mass audiences at scale. However to succeed in future, brands will need to be able to integrate our strategies across business units, advertising channels, devices and audiences.
Integrating data into decision-making
With the number of consumer touchpoints increasing by the minute, big data has become a major priority for businesses seeking to undergo a digital transformation. Now more than ever, the ability to efficiently collect, process and analyse large amounts of data is crucial to making effective data-driven decisions.
There are three main methods of data analysis that businesses can use to drive their insights:
- Descriptive Analytics – What has happened?
- Predictive Analytics – What may happen in future?
- Prescriptive Analytics – What should we do, based on what has happened?
These methodologies enable brands to more deeply understand the consumer and competitive landscape around them, to evaluate hypotheses in real time, and to provide alternative solutions to specific business problems.
In terms of customers, being able to access data-driven insights allows businesses to better decide how to interact with their market, and to focus on improving user experience in real time.
As David Aaker argues, a strong brand is only possible for those who learn to understand their audiences and communicate consistent messages over time. In the age of on-demand service and personalisation, brands will benefit from more deeply understanding searchers’ behaviour and being able to provide personalised information and experiences.
Google’s integration approach
One of the great things about integration in search is that most search engines are already working on it. Google, for instance, is currently building large, sophisticated machine-learning models and AI solutions that will overturn our traditional idea of how we interact with technology.
Google’s launch of Assistant and Lens are simply two examples of how it has already started integrating its technology into everyone’s life. And although there is still a long way to go before usage of these futuristic devices becomes the norm, Google search results are already personalising user experience based on search history and social activity.
This development in deep learning aims not only to meet users’ demand and intent for any given keyword search or voice query, but also to fully understand the context, and so be able to predict what we are going to do or need next. This offers marketers the chance to seamlessly integrate relevant information into common life situations, while adding value to people’s daily activities.
User life integration
The breadth of experiences that a brand could create to pursue customers will be endless, which will make integration even more compelling. But the increase of competition over time will mean that only those who provide the most relevant solutions to particular problems will be able to thrive.
Getting irrelevant content is the number one reason why consumers choose not to engage with their search result, so understanding users and leveraging content to match its intent will help to personalise brand experiences to what users require.
Customers today expect as much of a personalised approach online as they’d expect to receive offline. This means marketers also need to design omnichannel and multi-connected journeys with completely individualised experiences in order to drive deeper connections in the long term.
Where is integration going?
As brands collectively improve their capabilities in data and user experience, integration will play begin to play a larger role across all sections and mindsets of their businesses.
To start this process for yourself, here are three basic ideas that could help you start building a bridge to the not-too-distant future:
- Power your teams with a centralised data system that helps to inform decisions based on insights.
- Define and narrow your audiences to design a more relevant experience across all platforms and devices.
- Create flexible search marketing strategies that are able to adapt quicker to changes in users’ behaviours.
Those who succeed on the above will propel search forward as a marketplace of integrated information where brands – and consumers – will be happy to be.