According to a new global survey by Accenture, 78% of marketing executives believe corporate marketing will undergo a fundamental transformation over the next five years due to the use of analytics, digital and mobile technologies, topics that where in the limelight of MediaBUZZ’s recent 8byEight event on Digital Marketing.

"As marketing executives are increasingly embracing digital, they can be catalysts to help their company take advantage of the wider digital opportunity and protect against broader digital threats," stated Brian Whipple, senior managing director, Accenture Interactive. "Marketing executives are well positioned to assume this role because the opportunities, as well as the potential and real threats, are all about the customer, the brand, the interface with the customer and how the customer is empowered. To be part of their enterprise's digital transformation, marketing executives should extend their vision of marketing beyond traditional boundaries", he added and we can’t agree more.

Indeed, companies have to improve their ability to build long-lasting customer relationships, design and deliver branded customer experiences, and make use of multiple channels, including an increased leverage of digital channels, which was discussed in detail by two experts in this field during our 8byEight event.

How to build brand trust with customer experience was the topic led by Clement Teo, Senior Analyst, Forrester Research, who was one of the eight moderators at MediaBUZZ’s e8byEight event on Digital Marketing, who summarized his sessions with the following three conclusions:

  1. The brand has to deliver on its promise: Customers today are fickle and a bad customer experience will damage the brand. So, if the brand fails, it has to recover promptly with accurate information shared across all channels.
  2. Co-create your innovation with customers to build trust: Allowing a loyal set of customers to test-drive your latest product pre-launch will help turn them into advocates and ambassadors of the brand, and also shape the product/service for the general public when it launches. That way, your launch product/service will already incorporate early feedback and shows greater alignment with market demand.
  3. Constant multi-channel engagement is key to ensuring a great customer experience: Engage with customers pre-sales, during, and post-sales to ensure consistency of the experience through omni-channels. The loop needs to be closed to receive feedback and improve the customer life cycle. More and more of these engagements today are driven by mobile moment, informed by data insights and analytics.

Dr. Valdew Singh, Director from the Centre for Technology Innovation & Commercialisation at Nanyang Polytechnic, moderated the topic “Omni-channel Retailing: How to facilitate a seamless approach to consumer experience & to manage a new breed of shoppers?”

He affirms that with rapid development in technology the traditional ways of retailing are changing. We now see the sudden rise of “omni-channel” which it is being touted as “the next big trend”, he claims. Simply put, he explained, a retail group needs to operate and respond to customers effectively across all channels in real time, whether it’s at the store, online, on mobile, on TV or whichever medium the customer is interested in using for his buying decisison.

Omni-channel can provide a unified customer experience - i.e. whatever channel the customer touches shows him the same stock, at the same price, with the same promotions, merchandised in the same way, and that connection is made and updated in real time.

But with great power come great responsibilities! - The ability to truly engage with customers, no matter what the channel, and yet provide a seamless and integrated and updated experience, will be a challenge. And that’s why technology and marketing must come together: Technology to ensure proper systems are in place and aligned to provide the necessary support, besides offering a consistent and integrated view for marketing to communicate in the most powerful and effective way to the consumer.

Dr. Singh further pointed out:

  1. Mobile technology has armed customers with company information and product insights that rival store associates’ knowledge. Thus, staff need to be more knowledgeable about their merchandise and related production processes. They should now serve as retail or brand ambassadors to promote the products/services and company.
  2. By taking a trust-appropriate, permission-based approach to marketing, retailers can leverage strategies that use emerging technologies like proximity-based marketing and eligibility verification to deliver personalized messages to targeted audiences, e.g. opt-in, customer managed relationship model (how much or how little they are willing to share).
  3. Not to cannibalize channels for sales but look to complement and strengthen them, so as to effectively engage customers across multiple touch points.
  4. Not to activate campaigns in silos – instead analyze what channels and devices customers are using, and then aim to be there and be relevant to customers at those touch points.
  5. Close communication and collaboration between the IT and marketing departments and sales staff are needed with little confusion about goals and strategies. A clear and thorough understanding of the customer, or target market, is required to be able to make appropriate decisions.
  6. Rationalization, optimization, simplification, standardization and integration of processes and information flow, i.e. systems alignment and transformation, is needed
  7. The driver for omni-channel marketing seems to be the marketer. Whilst marketers are getting in the game to drive new ways of converting customer traffic, IT departments fear of losing control with all the new technologies that promise instant capabilities.

We have to keep in mind that a good customer experience implies an ongoing dialogue and continuous engagement. Today’s marketing decision makers, therefore, should focus more on creating multi-channel, personalized experiences for each customer across the brand by continuously reviewing the data and shifting tactics and technologies as needed. As Accenture emphasized in their report: “Integrate marketing channels with real-time analytics, invest in agile technologies and cloud-based services, and reorient the marketing model so that new talent with all the necessary skills in analytics, mobile and digital put digital marketing to its most effective use in boosting the customer experience.”

By Daniela La Marca