Yes, we need to be customer-obsessed with ecosystems to support this customer-centricity
No, all data is not created equal, but in it lies the power
Footprints are the new fingerprints
I was recently one of approximately 200 marketers who attended the Canadian Marketing Association’s (CMA) CMAfuture event in Toronto. Focused on the future of marketing amidst digital disruption, we heard three fascinating presentations on how technology has changed the way we do just about everything, from shopping to transportation to consuming content and beyond, and the opportunities and challenges that come with it.
As marketers, we know that today, customers have more power than ever over how they spend every dollar. They go online to research products, consulting others, and using digital assistants to find the best products and the best value, even for seemingly simple purchases like toothbrushes and baby wipes. And because they use technology to do it, they provide us with more information than we’ve ever had, allowing us to understand them better, personalize our interactions and create completely new customer experiencesin both the consumer and business space.
Digital footprints are a marketer’s secret weapon
Craig Thornton, Vice President of Business Mobility at TELUS talked about the incredible impact Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have had on our lives. He also addressed the rising global influence of Asian giants such as Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. Together, these global corporations have created the infrastructure and platforms that have disrupted traditional business models, allowing innovators to create new categories and fundamentally change how we search, buy, and communicate.
In a world where digital disruption is the norm, how can businesses avoid falling victim to the same fate? How can we, as marketers, leverage the positive effects of digital footprints to learn about our customers and create highly personalized interactions that not only meet, but exceed customer expectations?
Part of the answer is automation and the data it delivers—and there’s tons of it. We have more information about customers as a whole and as individuals than we know how to handle, manage or interpret. What do we do with it?
Wrong-term data vs right-term thinking
David Phillips, President and COO of NLOGIC Canada, focused on the power of data. He explored why almost all of the data analysts got the last US election so incredibly wrong, but one got it right. Instead of looking at short-term data from polls, Allan J. Lichtman used a historically-based prediction system founded on the study of every presidential election from 1860 to 1980—and he predicted a Trump win.
As David told the audience, we have to know when to rely on short-term data and when we need long-term data instead. The issue isn’t which is right, but which one is right for our current purpose—and context always matters. “Wrong-term data” exists and “right-term thinking” needs to be our focus.
When did our customers become so demanding?
Kristina Elkhazin, Head of Industry for Retail at Google Canada, demonstrated how the artificial intelligence (AI) built into Google Home allows consumers to converse naturally with their digital assistants, using the device to check the weather, tell a joke, check product availability, create a virtual shopping list and much more. She also highlighted that, thanks to technology, today’s consumers are curious, demanding and impatient. Once they’ve done their research, they demand an online experience that allows them to make their purchases in mere seconds (and yes, a webpage must load in less than 3 seconds). We have to be ready and able to deliver.
So now what?
I came away excited about the opportunity that we as marketers have to become all-round specialists. We need to be customer-obsessed, with ecosystems to support customer-centricity. This includes knowing our consumers better than ever before and being able to influence business decisions cross-functionally. This partially comes from recognizing and using data signals that are intent-oriented, and architecting teams that are channel-agnostic. That’s the only way we can deliver on our mandate to drive sales now and in the future.