Cross-device tracking … the cornerstone for bridging the gap between online and offline marketing

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It is not a big secret that the greatest advertising impact is achieved by delivering the right message to the customer at the right time and place. The exciting question is obviously how to get the necessary holistic information about the customer and his behavior. While the “tracking” of customers via cookies, Facebook and Google log-ins already works extensively in the online world, the smartphone is intended to bridge the gap to the offline world. After all, the smartphone is always there when the customer moves through the (shopping) streets of his city. So some are already predicting the breakthrough in “cross-device tracking”(ie cross-device tracking of customer activities on the PC, smart TV, mobile phone, tablet …). But is it really that far … and who will benefit from this information and how?

Obviously, companies such as Google, Apple and the like, which offer comprehensive services on all devices with search engines, operating systems, end devices and marketplaces, are logical candidates. However, access to this customer data is only very indirect and also very cost-intensive (e.g. paid advertising). In-store systems such as iBeacon offer retailers a great opportunity to connect digitally to their customers at the POS … but for this the customer must first have found the way. Many therefore rely on mobile apps to go directly to the customer’s end device and interact with it there.

However, you should be aware that considerable marketing efforts as well as a well-linked interaction strategy and well -thought-out tracking methodology are required to conquer a place on the smartphone and to maintain it permanently. Above all, there are interesting usage options for the user so that the app is also used actively.

This ranges from quite conventional factual-economic incentives such as offers and loyalty programs such as those at Duane Reade (US drugstore chain), through practical connections between the online product catalog and POS systems such as those at Mammut (outdoor clothing), to progressive new design options for “customized” individualized sports shoes at Adidas.

Which approach is the right one naturally differs according to the company, product area and target group. But it is definitely essential to actively involve the user in the purchase decision-making process and to give him clear added value through information, offers and participation. Because the exciting question remains which tracking the customer allows for the respective app. Even if many inexperienced users are still very liberal with data releases, the operating systems are gradually becoming more restrictive. So one goal must be to give the customer a valuable incentive to release his (usage, contact, location data). Creativity is allowed and in demand … the examples show that.