In the Wild West of Digital Marketing, This North Star Should Guide You | Inc.com – Inc.

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In many ways, digital marketing can feel like the Wild West. Despite decades of exploration into the vast digital landscape of the World Wild Web, there is still much to be discovered as intrepid gangs of cowpokes invent new and exciting ways to wrangle the herd. But while the ever-evolving world of digital marketing can be rewarding, it can also be riddled with uncertainty, risk, and drought if you make the wrong move. After all, there’s always a coyote or two looking to pick off the steer, stealing once hard-earned attention for their own. 
But just as the Wild West was won, the digital realm can also be yours for the taking. All you need to know is how to navigate the expanse of opportunity. You see, like explorers of the past, successful marketers don’t let the unknown get in their way. They saddle up and take off, certain that their North Star will keep them on course as they make their way to the promised land.  
What is that North Star which guides great marketers in the dead of night, you ask? The answer is less about what, and more about who–your customer.  
Customer-centered marketing is not a new concept, but it is often treated as an afterthought for businesses today. In fact, while 58 percent of marketers believe that the customer should be their primary focus, only 14 percent feel that their organizations make customer-centricity a priority.  
Faced with the randomizing tasks of an omnichannel environment, it can be easy to place the onus of understanding the customer at the feet of CX teams, but that would be a mistake. The truth is that the marketer’s role doesn’t end once a lead has moved into the sales funnel. Great marketers are those who choose to venture further.  
Success should not be measured only on metrics like the amount of content published, onsite traffic trends, or social engagement, to name a few. While these data points certainly matter, they don’t show us everything; nor can they be counted on to correlate absolutely to the quality of leads coming in. Great marketers know how to look at the whole picture, and that involves traversing beyond the immediacy of simply collecting leads. 
With 91 percent of modern audiences preferring a personalized experience from brands, it’s no wonder marketers have become reliant on cookie-driven data to fuel their strategies. Of course, a renewed focus on consumer-choice in data collection has made it increasingly harder for marketers to leverage cookies as they once did. So, what’s the solution for marketers keen to adapt? Gain a deep understanding of the customer and let that knowledge guide every choice moving forward. 
Marketers that put the customer at the center of decision-making drive 60 percent more profitability for their organization than those who don’t. Period.  
By identifying customer needs, interests, motivators, and differentiators, great marketers equip themselves to develop personas more effectively for each audience they want to attract. Only after obtaining a thorough understanding of their audiences will these marketers act, using codified customer segments to inform every detail of their digital marketing campaigns. 
With each year that passes, it seems that the realm of digital marketing continues to expand with new opportunities ripe for the taking. But customer-centricity isn’t simply another new frontier to explore; rather, it is the method in which to navigate that exploration. When harnessed properly, customer-centric marketing can be your answer in the face of uncertainty, a shelter from risk, and the best guide to water when drought can’t be avoided. Do you have what it takes to cowboy up for your customers?

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