Almost everyone has more than one device and we alternate between them throughout the day, checking emails, browsing on the web, using Facebook or twitter, hardly noticing the transition. We research products on our mobile phones before committing to a purchase in-store and having looked at some late minute hotel deals at our desks during the day we will check those hotel’s reviews on a tablet in the evening at home.
This constant transition between our phones, tablets, PCs, laptops… while deciding which hotel to go for or which product to buy has become normal behaviour. It is, however, a nightmare for brands trying to track, understand and therefore influence customer behaviour during a purchase path across multiple devices.
So, cross device tracking is, simply put, the ability to identify your users as they move from one device to the next during their journey from investigation to purchase. Cross device tracking empowers brands to target their customers accordingly with a complete understanding of exactly where that customer is in their customer journey. Brands can therefore ensure they are delivering the correct user experience that all customers demand irrespective of device. Without effective cross device tracking can any brand claim to truly understand their customers, to genuinely personalise their communications?
According to Google 93% of users that research on their mobile phones during their purchase path go on to complete a purchase although very few actually complete it on the same device (mobile). The majority either purchase in-store or via tablet/desktop as shown in this extract from the Google/Nielsen Mobile Path to Purchase custom study.
The advertising world and in particular mobile advertising has been banging its head against the wall with the dilemma of cross device tracking for a while now. But this is also a significant problem for every single marketing and ecommerce department.
While there are a few brands making headway, most still only track PCs. With the rise in appetite and endeavour to capture even more customer/behavioural data to improve the customer experience, it’s somewhat ironic that the ubiquitous use of multiple devices has created huge blind spots that didn’t exist previously. Now actually hampering the ability to capture accurate customer/behavioural data.
In this diagram from comScore, the morning and the evening would be those blind spots (if tracking PCs only).
Right now the onus is on the customer to make it known to the brand that they are an existing customer and don’t want to be treated like a new one… In the fickle world we live in, that’s not going to work long term!
Not having cross device tracking is like not be able to track certain parts of your website. Imagine a few years ago, when desktop was still king, not being able to track your product pages for example. Baskets and sales would happen without any understanding of what content, product or categories were browsed prior to purchse and influenced the sale… Nobody would put up with that because without that knowledge it would seem like total madness to build a customer centric marketing strategy and therefore do the job of any modern marketer.
Yet that is what is going on at the moment. As customers alternate between devices they create blind spots for marketers who are trying to build as accurate a picture as possible of that very same customer to help improve the experience for that customer!
So without cross device tracking you cannot implement a customer centric marketing plan, in a very practical sense and looking at two mature channels in email and web, the limitations are obvious:
Your communications will not be as relevant or personalised as they could be if you have no idea what is being browsed on another device and is therefore of interest to that customer, you simply cannot display that engaging content
Your website and mobile site will not promote the correct customer experience because you do not know where in the purchase funnel a customer is or what category is of interest
Multi device shares many synergies with multichannel marketing in that the industry is striving to mesh all the channels/devices (and interactions with those channels/devices) together to harmonise the customer experience. Building and implementing a multichannel marketing strategy without very seriously understanding how users and customers are going to be tracked from one device to another is more of a punt than a strategy...
Best sort out that cross device tracking then!