Although the payoff of the event, “Connect, Engage, Deliver” was set at a very high level, the content the speakers brought to the stage was very hands-on and unusually specific. How can marketers embrace the opportunity of engaging with “the empowered customer”? That question – posed by Principal analyst Shar VanBoskirk – unveiled the real theme of the two-day conference: the consumer, the individual, the person on the other end of the line. Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways from the event when it comes to marketing to the empowered consumer:
- Get over the ambition of a 360º customer view. Google’s director of data and management Stephen Yap insisted that marketers focus on real-time interaction based on the data available at that point and stop holding onto the highly unlikely promise of a “complete” view.
- Adopt “business to human” marketing. A clever phrase introduced by GE’s Linda Boff, also showing the fact that treating your customers as actual individuals is challenging for most marketers.
- Embrace a democratized data paradigm. With the proliferation of customer data comes great responsibility – that according to Sheila Colclasure, Privacy officer at Acxiom and to Forrester Principle Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo. In the words of the latter, the friction between the goals of the marketer and the value a consumer perceives from the marketers action became clear. And while getting identity right is foundational for the execution of a successful contextual marketing strategy it does not mean the marketer owns the identity of the user by default.
- Marketing clouds are vastly overrated. Rusty Warner explained that although most of the traditional technology vendors have refurbished their 1st and 2nd generation legacy platforms and acquired products into fancy “Clouds”, they have not been living up to their promise.
- Integration needs some serious improvement. Tina Moffet projected that a staggering 90% of enterprise CMOs agree with the statement that their companies fail completely in “integrating customer data across channels”.
So what do I take away from this? It is certainly not that truly individual and contextual marketing is too big of a challenge. The advice from Google, the market leader in this, was very, very clear. It is a challenge we must rise to. Despite our aspirations, a marketer can never be 100% accurate said Yap. Yet, any hesitation to take the opportunity to act will set you up for failure. Waiting means missing the immediacy of the interaction in real time.
Do or do not… there is no try. And that’s what a lot of practitioners who were also presenting at the event have been doing. They told the real stories right out of the trenches of operating daily digital commerce and marketing. With a lot of humor Walter Levitt, Chief Marketing Officer of Comedy Central, took attendees through the recent history of the network and how it has abandoned the concept of the linear TV screen and traditional marketing. Internally, words like “Fans” and “Franchises” are used instead of “Viewers” and “TV shows” and only content that meets the strict requirements of “share-ability” gets produced.
Delia Vallejo, Head of eCommerce and Digital, Keurig Green Mountain shared her company’s balancing act between online and offline, between a direct e-commerce channel and an indirect retail channel, as well as the differences between the web and the mobile experiences and between a traditional and subscription based business model.
Mary O’Brien, Vice President, Marketing took Saucony from ranking seventh in the “running specialty” manufacturer to ranking third by nurturing consumers’ obsession with the brand, products and their love of running, building persona’s and drawing them into the story – all in real time.
And there were many others – more than can be shared here. All demonstrated courage and perseverance and all could claim initial success and showed even great aspiration to do better. Collectively these marketing practitioners underlined that the future of marketing hinges on the ability to identify, understand, and interact with customers on an individual basis. If you are on the same path, I invite you to reach out to BlueConic because I am sure we are able to give you a push in the right direction. And oh, yes, we do have a platform that actually does what we have promised: collecting and unifying rich profiles to determine and activate the optimal interaction with an individual, based on both implicit and explicit intent. And it was built for this very purpose. That might help too…