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Finding Relevance on the Yellow Brick Road

By Catherine Magoffin | Posted on January 08, 2013

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wizard of oz

As the holiday frenzy winds down, I realize that some of my favorite holiday memories involve relaxing with family watching a classic movie after a big feast. Most recently, the movie of choice was the “The Wizard of Oz.” As I watched, I couldn’t help but correlate the yellow brick road to the challenges faced by digital marketers focused on creating the most relevant journey for each and every customer.

In the movie, we have four very different consumers, all seeking the Great Wizard to fulfill a unique need. Dorothy simply wants to book some travel to home sweet home. Scarecrow wants a brain. Tin Man wants a heart. And, the Lion wants courage. In today’s world, they may all end up shopping on (similar to, each expecting to quickly find the very thing they are looking for.

In our world of rapid technology advancements focused on driving more relevant consumer experiences, our friends on the yellow brick road reminded me of the true task at hand. Marketers must focus on taking consumers down a path, engaging them and offering a highly relevant experience across channels. No small feat. Just like Dorothy and her friends, consumers that go down the same “road” are often met with roadblocks that are not relevant to them, forcing them to take another path down Competitor’s Lane. And, of course, there are plenty of other distractions, like lions, tigers and bears. Oh my!

The Magic is in the Data

Back to today . . . as marketers focus on getting to know their consumers as well as possible, they can’t hide behind a curtain, like the Great Wizard. And, that didn’t work so well anyway. Yet, marketers are expected to deliver the magic in the form of a personalized, relevant experience to every unique consumer. And, that magic is driven via data and the automation of lifecycle communications that deliver information to the right consumer at the right place and right time. In this age of “meCommerce” and “Datamyning,” actionable data on individuals is the element that equips marketers to drive a more relevant consumer experience across channels and communicate in more meaningful ways.

Just like Dorothy’s friends heading down the road together, consumers may appear to be heading in the same direction, yet every one of them is on a journey to find just what they want. Today, we would consider Dorothy a power-user of social media, making new friends along the way, sharing information and influencing behavior. And, the socially influential Dorothy-type will have increased influence in years ahead, with social media use spiking 37% YOY. The challenge is to understand and engage these influencers, catering to their needs based on implicit and explicit attributes derived across channels.

With this new marketing focus on understanding consumers via big data, there is a great opportunity to become more customer-centric. Comprehending the wide array of information that’s available is the starting point. Next, harnessing it into action to drive more relevant consumer experiences in the here and now is what it’s all about. If we succeed, we build better consumer experiences and help connect the Dorothys of the world to their ruby slippers, supplies for Toto and to finally booking that travel plan they’ve been dreaming about.

Homeward Bound

You may think there’s no place like your home page, however, once consumers land there, the magic is in what happens next. Janrain is helping companies such as L’Occitane, Samsung, Yamaha and more, use Janrain’s JUMP platform to acquire, understand and engage consumers and strengthen their relevance and relationships. And, customers like Purina are able to understand if Dorothy has a little dog, too. Here’s to a great year ahead on the road to relevancy!

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